Professor plays to the beat of his own drum

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

It was standing room only as Professor Jamie Ryan performed his faculty percussion recital in the Black Box Theatre at the Doudna Fine Arts Center Tuesday evening.

One of the pieces, “Southern Cross,” was composed by Professor Brad Decker and was performed for the first time at the recital.

“It’s really exciting to bring a new piece into being and have it be such an excellent piece of music,” Ryan said. “(The piece) is very different from things that are normally played (at Eastern).”

Another piece, “Divertimento for Alto Saxophone and Marimba,” featured Jenelle Orcherton on the alto saxophone.

Terri Pelham and her husband, Barry Pelham, both said they really enjoyed the performance.

“I enjoyed the second movement the best,” Terri Pelham said. “I could identify with the rhythms of it.”

The recital consisted of “epic percussion works,” Ryan said.

“(The percussion works) are fairly difficult,” Ryan said. “Their scale is pretty massive, even if it’s for one single instrument or an array of 20 instruments.”

Ryan had also played many different forms of music in the past.

“I play all sorts of music,” Ryan said. “I play chamber music ¼ I play orchestral music, but I also play a lot of drums, like I play a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, Afro-Cuban music.”

The array of music in Ryan’s repertoire has left him unable to name a favorite.

“They’re all my favorite,” Ryan said. “A couple of pieces are, they’re really difficult, so they cause me a lot of frustration sometimes, so they might be my least favorite that one day.”

Like many performers, Ryan said he had personal standards of being accurate and playing the pieces musically.

“Somebody once said, ‘There’s only two kinds of music: good music and bad music,’” Ryan said. “I try to only do the former.”

Ryan said he hoped to have made an impact on the audience with his performance.

“If (audience members) have a strong reaction, which I’m hoping would be good, but even if it’s a strong bad reaction, that would be successful,” Ryan said. “… Even if they hear those other two pieces and say, ‘Boy, that really was offensive to my sensibility,’ then I may have done it right.”

To do the music justice and elicit a strong reaction were Ryan’s main goals for the recital.

“I guess some musicians would feel like they want the audience to be impressed,” Ryan said. “I just want to serve the music I’m playing and hope that people are interested in the music itself.”

According to Ryan, the most he wanted from the performance was a response from the audience.

“My least favorite thing about musical performance is an apathetic audience,” Ryan said. “You don’t know if it’s just the people who attend it and just weren’t feeling motivated that day to be engaged or if your performance just didn’t do enough for them to illicit a strong reaction.”

Ryan said he believed the performance achieved his goals.

“I felt like I represented the pieces well,” Ryan said. “It’s all music I really loved playing, and only one of the pieces is really a repeat for me. All of it was pretty new, so I feel really good about it.”

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].