The first lunchtime concert series of 2019 kicked off on 11 October with Division of Culture and Creativity (DCC) Foreign Intern Robert Runnels. Robert earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in percussion performance from The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota in the US.

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Robert Runnels

He has performed with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has recorded with the Belle Voce choir from St. Scholastica and has been featured as a guest artist at the annual Bring the Sing event in Duluth. While attending St. Scholastica he also taken part in numerous different bands and ensembles.

The programme started with a piece titled ‘Asventuras’ by Alexej Gerassimez. This piece was a snare drum solo using various implements (brushes, mallets, hands etc.) to explore the various tones of the snare drum. Throughout the piece he used many parts of the snare drum with multiple different techniques to create three diverse sections. Robert says, “It is a graduate level snare drum piece that represents the culmination of my technical study in percussion.”

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Robert performing ‘Asventuras’ by Alexej Gerassimez

He then moved onto ’Alchemy’ by Julie Hill which focuses on sound exploration. This piece had a variety of different sounds including a wood block, one large cymbal and one small cymbal.

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Robert performing ’Alchemy’ by Julie Hill

The third piece was ‘Etude in C Major’ by Clair Omar Musser. Robert explained that the marimba piece represents a point in his life when he decided he wanted to peruse Percussion and a major in music. He says, “My professor gave me a whole stack of music and I picked the hardest one, I then sat down and memorized it in an hour. I have never felt so motivated on a project before.”

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‘Robert performing Etude in C Major’ by Clair Omar Musser

The last piece that was played was by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic and called ‘To the Gods of Rhythm’. This piece of music is a mixture of musical traditions of the people of Africa and the Balkans. The Rhythmic chant is based on Balkan traditions while the Rhythms and the use of a djembe is from West African tradition. Robert explained how this piece represented a total shift in his personality. He explained how this piece was hard for him to play at first because it is so out of character and his comfort zone.

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‘Robert performing To the Gods of Rhythm' by Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic

The audience was left captivated by all of the wondrous sounds they had just heard and left the performance with smiles on their faces.

Robert says, “I am looking forward to learning more about the Chinese culture and traditional Chinese music as well as preparing a concert for next semester where I can incorporate some of the music that was played today.” He also is looking forward to working more with students and has hopes of starting an official percussion ensemble on campus.

The lunchtime concert series are organised every Friday at 12:15pm in C129. They feature student and staff performers as well as showcase both Western and Chinese works.

Reporter/Photographer: Lauren Richardson
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He
(from MPRO)