Truman State University percussion rocks the beat

From hosting a guest percussion trio to taking a trip to a global percussion convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Truman State University percussion department is having an eventful year thus far, however, the fun doesn’t stop there. Several members of the department have been invited to take on projects or memberships with prestigious percussion organizations. 

“These are great experiences for them,” Michael Bump, professor and director of Truman’s percussion studio, said. “On a national stage, they’re getting to do great music and interact with great colleagues and other teachers.”

One such member is sophomore Alec Lamb. Lamb has been participating in Drum Corps International for two years now. DCI is considered “marching music’s major league,” according to its website. Lamb has spent the past two summers with the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps, a world-class corps based in Casper, Wyoming, playing timpani and vibraphone his first and second year, respectively. This year, however, he was invited to the Santa Clara Vanguard in California. SCV placed third in the 2019 DCI World Championship Finals and won in 2018, in addition to winning the Fred Sanford Caption Award five of the last six years.

“It was always a dream of mine to participate [in DCI],” Lamb said. “I originally auditioned at Troopers … because I had a bunch of friends who went through that program, but I’m ready for the competitiveness and higher-level intensity that was missing from years past.”

Another member pursuing big projects is sophomore Curtis Halbrook, who has been invited to participate in the Nief-Norf music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to its website, Nief-Norf is “a two-week residency and musical think tank for composers, performers and music technologists.” Halbrook will have the opportunity to build on his expertise in the contemporary music genre, as well as network with artists who are experts at their craft.

“I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge in the percussion world,” Halbrook said. “I’m very much looking forward to the people I’ll get to meet there and all the different things I’ll get to play while I’m there.”

Christian Kuhlman, senior and president of the University Percussion Society, was in the shoes of Lamb and Halbrook last summer. He participated in the Sō Percussion Summer Institute, a two-week experience working with renowned percussion company Sō Percussion to create, rehearse and perform contemporary percussion. 

“SōSI was probably the most defining musical moment, musical experience I’ve had in my life,” Kuhlman said. 

“I got to play with incredible musicians and composers from around the country and the world even, and [Sō Percussion] are some of my heroes,” Kuhlman said. “I’ve been listening to them ever since I was nine or 10 years old, and to get to be around them … and perform with all these great musicians … was just one of the coolest things I’ve ever been able to do. I think it’s really nice to see all [my younger colleagues] getting into these summer activities.”

Of course, in these programs, expectations run high. 

“I know it’s going to be very intense for a two-week camp, but I’m hoping to go in there and do my best, and show there was a reason I was accepted into the festival,” Halbrook said.

For those interested in supporting the program, there are concerts throughout the semester, with pieces of every style, including traditional chamber, contemporary chamber and steel pan. In addition, five studio members will be performing recitals this semester: seniors Jack Kasper, Kuhlman and Tony Lucas, as well as graduate students Hannah Gallamore and Adam McCann. There will also be fundraisers throughout the semester, including Beach Bash and bake sales.

“I look forward to continued expansion and growth, but I want to continue to express the great things we have already done,” Bump said.