MARSHALL - Marshall Public School music director Chad Przymus promises that the upcoming Beats 2012: Unleash the Beats concert will be quite remarkable.
"We want, in this concert, for the audience to feel like they're in an African rain forest," Przymus said. "A lot of the music strives to create that feel. There's a lot of aggressive stuff, but then there's very soft, sensitive things too. It's a lot of fun."
The 7th annual percussion event, Przymus said, will be spectacular, both musically and visually.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Jeff Dorman, left, and Kiley Maki plunk away at the marimba during “Caribbean Samba.”
"(Marshall High School teacher) Dan Smith heads up all the visual aspects of this," Przymus said. "Really, the combination of what I do musically and what Dan does visually is what creates a production rather than just a recital."
Approximately 50 students in grades 6-12 are involved in the Beats concert, which Przymus calls the culmination of the winter percussion program that involves the middle school and high school students.
"I teach and instruct all the music in percussion," he said. "We strive to create a well-rounded program for students to experience different elements of percussion."
Throughout the year, the groups do different pieces from all different types of music traditions.
"I mix the students around so they play a variety of percussion instruments," Przymus said. "This year's piece is called 'Unleash the Beats,' so it will have really a jungle feel to it. The kids have spent hours and hours practicing. It has the potential to be the best Beats concert we've ever done."
Marshall High School junior Thomas McCoy said he's in seven or eight ensembles.
"I'm playing the timpani, the marimba, the vibraphone and some hand drums for a couple of songs," McCoy said. "It's really fun and energetic. It's different than last year. It's gonna be rocking."
Above all, McCoy is looking forward to a Beats piece called "Cyclone."
"That's going to be the fun one this year," he said. "It's definitely different than a normal song would be."
MHS senior Meghan Carmody convinced Przymus to let them play "Cyclone."
"I picked this song out," Carmody said. "I listened to it on You Tube and thought it was awesome. We found the music and ordered it."
During the song, there are two marimbas back-to-back, with four people playing music on them.
"Cyclone" is a college level piece, McCoy said, but everyone loves it and worked hard to learn it.
"It's really a learning experience going from the songs we played before into stuff like that," he said.
Carmody said the difficult song ideally goes with the theme "Unleash the Beats."
"It really goes with it because we're playing songs harder than we've ever played before," she said. "It's an African theme, so hand drums are a really big part of it."
Carmody, who plays the marimba in nearly every one of the six ensembles she's in, is also excited about playing her solo.
"I've had it since December," she said. "It's called 'Irrelevant.' Mr. Przymus said he went to a concert and said it made him think of me. I really like it."
MHS senior Kiley Maki is looking forward to the performances this weekend.
"I'm in a variety of stuff, everything from the drumline show that we have and percussion ensembles," Maki said. "I play a little bit of mallet and on the drum set."
Maki's favorite would have to be the tenor quartet.
"It's been kind of like a tradition that we've had four tenors," he said. "This year, we only had three, so we had Jeff (Dorman) play, even though he normally plays snare. It's one we can kind of have fun with."
In addition to doing the Tiger Groove show, like the one that is done at basketball games, Dorman said he is playing a solo.
"It's called 'Snare Con Queso,'" he said. "I felt like it fit really well because it's got like a hand-drumming, bongo kind of feel to it."
Along with the facility, Przymus feels fortunate to have a big variety of percussion music, instruments and interest.
"When Dan and I were walking around looking at the brand new theater seven years ago, we thought about what we could do with it," Przymus said. "The Beats concert was just an idea that came out of it."
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance from percussion students. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts at Marshall High School.