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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Oct. 22, 2004

UI Percussion Groups Present Nov. 7 Concert

Three percussion groups from the University of Iowa School of Music -- the UI Percussion Ensemble, the Pan-American Steel Band and the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble -- will present a shared concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Musical director of the UI percussion ensembles is UI faculty member Dan Moore, who is currently on leave. For the Nov. 7 concert, the Percussion Ensemble and Pan-American Steel Band will be directed by graduate teaching assistant Virginia Armstrong. Directors of the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble are James Dreier and Paul Cunliffe.

The UI Percussion Ensemble performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th-century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. With an extensive array of instruments -- from traditional drums, xylophones and cymbals to just about anything that can be struck, scraped or shaken -- Percussion Ensemble performances are known for their variety and fast-paced programming, presented with humor, drama and old-fashioned showmanship.

For the Nov. 7 concert, members of the Percussion Ensemble will perform pieces including a Bach organ fugue arranged for marimba quartet by UI student Shelly May, a ragtime trio with interesting twists on a the familiar theme of the "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Portico," a large scale work for percussion orchestra by Tom Gauger.

The Pan-American Steel Band is an ensemble of students playing on steel drums, instruments based on 55-gallon oil barrels that were carefully crafted into tuned musical instruments. Originating on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, these tuned drums have a remarkable timbre that is immediately recognizable as a Caribbean sound. They characteristically play the infectious Calypso, Soca and Reggae music of the West Indies, as well as Afro-Cuban, American pop and other styles -- even including arrangements of classical music.

The steel band will perform their usual blend of traditional tunes and arrangements, including a Bela Fleck tune arranged by UI student Mike Amandes.

A joint effort of the UI School of Music and Dance Department, the Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble (ACDDE) studies the folkloric music and dance traditions of Cuba, which draws from both African and European roots and in turn has greatly influenced the music of North America and the world. Styles studied by the group include the rumba, guiro, bembe, palo, mozambique, conga de comparsa, yesa, bata and many others. The group grew out of a visit to Cuba by Dreier and Cunliffe to attend a workshop with leading Cuban musicians and dancers.

The performance by the Afro Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble will be a preview of a clinic/performance they will give later in the week at the Percussive Arts Society international convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,