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Release: Immediate

Percussionists will honor Thomas L. Davis with UI concert April 19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Current and former percussion students from the University of Iowa School of Music will honor Thomas L. Davis, the long-time percussion teacher at the UI who retired last spring after 38 years on the UI faculty, by doing what he taught them to do -- play their instruments -- in a concert of music composed or arranged by Davis, at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will feature two percussion groups: the UI Percussion Ensemble, made up of current percussion students in the School of Music and directed by UI visiting faculty member Dan Moore; and an ensemble of percussion alumni, directed by John Beckford, a UI alumnus who is head of the music department at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

Davis, who regarded the Hawkeye basketball coach of the past 11 years as "the other Tom Davis" because he arrived on campus so recently, taught percussion and led the Percussion Ensemble at the School of Music from 1958 through 1996.

In addition to teaching percussion, at various times Davis directed the Hawkeye Marching Band and headed the jazz program at the School of Music. He has also been active in the Iowa City area as a jazz percussionist and vibes player and has made several jazz recordings, including some with Dick Schory's Percussion Pops Orchestra in the 1960s and '70s.

For the April 19 concert, the UI Percussion Ensemble will play "Fancy That," "Stompin' Thru the Rye," "Greensleeves" and "Mau Mau Suite," all arrangements or original compositions by Davis. The alumni group, featuring Davis' former students from as far away as Philadelphia, Seattle and Texas, will play Davis' "Panda Pause" and "El Races de la Camp Town," as well as a medley of Davis' favorite jazz tunes.

In addition, a brass ensemble will perform Davis' "Requiem and Ritual," and the two percussion groups will combine to end the concert with two of Davis' most popular arrangements, "Londonderry Air" and "Concertino on a Well Known Rustic Air."

A nationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore helped lead the SkyRyders Drum and Bugle Corps, taught percussion at Montana State University and studied for a doctorate in percussion at the University of Kentucky.

For the past 10 years Moore has toured as a member of the Britain/Moore Duo, whose CD "Cricket City" has been described by Pan-lime Magazine as "a brilliant collage of pan-marimba pieces."

Beckford teaches percussion and music history at Furman University. He studied percussion with Davis, earning bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the UI. While at the UI, he played with the Quad City Symphony, the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band and the Iowa Percussion Quartet. He also served as teaching assistant with the Hawkeye Marching Band.

In addition to his teaching duties at Furman, Beckford is principal percussionist with the Greenville Symphony. He is past president of the South Carolina Chapter of the percussive Arts Society and a regional artist for the Yamaha Music Corporation.

The UI Percussion Ensemble consists loosely of any students who are studying percussion at a given time. The instruments used in the percussion ensemble repertoire vary widely, including not only the drums and cymbals usually associated with a percussion section, but also gongs, woodblocks, xylophones, marimbas, and virtually any other instrument that can make a sound by being struck.