This week, percussion students from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth are being recognized with an international honor. The TCU Percussion Orchestra will head to Indianapolis to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention.
At PASIC, percussionists, drummers, enthusiasts, performers and educators from around the world all head to Indianapolis to attend a four-day convention. PASIC draws about 8,000 to 10,000 attendees annually. TCU Percussion Orchestra are this year’s special performers at PASIC.
“This is the result of a competition win, from one that we entered last year,” says TCU Percussion Orchestra director Brian West. “University percussion ensembles from around the world can enter. You send in a recording of yourselves playing. It’s not marked, so the judges don’t know which school is which. A panel of expert judges scores them and if you win, you get to come the next fall and play at the PASIC convention.”
This year marks the fifth time TCU Percussion Orchestra will be performing at PASIC. They have won the competition five times over the course of the past 15 years, as each contestant is only allowed to enter once every three years. During their PASIC performance, TCU Percussion Orchestra will perform four pieces, three of which will be premiere performances.
“You get an hour to perform,” West says, “and we’ll be performing some works that are very special to us that we've commissioned. TCU is actually responsible for those seeking out composers and asking them to write music for us.”
In addition to performing via a large platform, PASIC also provides several great networking opportunities.
“It's exciting because the students get to see all these wonderful presentations from some of their favorite drummers and favorite professors from around the globe,” West says. “There are concerts and clinics that happen all day long, and they get to go see these things. We are one of the groups that get to perform, and then in their spare time, they'll get to hang out and go see some of these other amazing performances from different groups and artists.”
While playing PASIC is in itself a big honor, West believes that watching his organization grow together collectively has been the best part of this process. He hopes that each member of the TCU Percussion Orchestra takes away skills and lessons that they will carry with them throughout the course of their careers.
“The orchestra members are really bonding over the experience because they have to work so hard together to get through it,” West says. “Adversity brings folks closer together, and the students are having a wonderful time growing as musicians but also as people, and through friendships. Throughout the whole process, it’s been a real joy to watch the students grow.”