This past Saturday, the Verona High School Percussion Ensemble performed at the new North Jersey Percussion Festival in Montville.
The festival was organized under the auspices of Mantra Percussion, a cutting edge percussion ensemble from New York City. The VHS students performed for the public and members of Mantra group, who also taught a hands-on master class for the student musicians. Participants included middle school, high school, university, and professional percussion ensembles and soloists from the Montville, Ridgewood, and Randolph public schools as well New York University, Rutgers University, Bard College, New Jersey City State University, Queens College, SUNY Purchase, Stony Brook University, and Rowan University. It was not a juried festival, but rather a chance to listen and learn from percussionists across the area.
While VHS has a drum line that performs with the marching band in the fall, the Verona High School Percussion ensemble focuses on concert percussion. Last year, it performed Christopher Rouse’s Ogoun Badagris as part of the Rutgers Percussion celebration. Rouse is the resident composer for the New York Philharmonic. This year’s Verona ensemble–Eric Foy, Chris Buneo, Skyler Fortgang, Ryan Lavoie, Seamus Elliott and Dustin Nguyen–performed Thom Hasenpflug’s Bicksa at the Montville festival.
You can watch Verona’s performance below. We’ve been told that, after listening to it, the Mantra member said, “How did you do that?”