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Review: UTM Percussion Ensemble shows talent and dedication

By Aimee Bilger
On October 30, 2012


UTM's Percussion Ensemble presented their fall concert on Oct. 28 with special guest Kyle Dunleavy.

"This concert is going to be really good. We have six pieces that we have worked really hard on, said Katherine Felthauser, Sophomore Music Education major, beforehand.

The concert, indeed, lived up to those words. The ensemble gave off an energy of excitement, and each student played with movement and enjoyment.  Dr. Julie Hill, Associate Professor of Percussion, directed the ensemble with strength, passion and control. After hearing the first two pieces, I knew that the rest of the concert was going to be amazing.

Dunleavy took the stage with a laid back approach, playing a solo piece "Baby Ashley" by Boogsie Sharpe. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, this amazing musician overwhelmed the audience that was filled with family and friends.

According to the website of Kyle Dunleavy Steel Drums, Dunleavy is known throughout the United States as one of the top "next generation" steel drum builders and tuners and has been crafting steel drums since 1996. He started his music career as a percussionist and went on to receive a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut.

Dunleavy began his close work with steel drums at Panyard, Inc., where he received experience and training from world-renowned master tuner Roland Harrigan and his crew of craftsmen from Trinidad.   Within a few short years, Kyle became Head Tuner for the company. During this time, Kyle was awarded the opportunity to study steel pan tuning with the legendary Ellie Mannette

Kyle founded Kyle Dunleavy Steel Drums in 1999 and since then has been building and tuning steel drums for performers and steel bands throughout the United States and beyond. Dunleavy regularly travels to Trinidad to study and perform with the best steel pan orchestras in the world.

"What's interesting about this is Kyle was brought in to tune our steel drums. He is on his way to a convention in Texas, but he offered to play with us out of the kindness of his heart," Hill said.

Students also enjoyed his visit.

"He is an incredible steel pan player; our program is more concert-oriented, whereas Mr. Dunleavy plays in a more group-oriented program. This makes his approach to music unique," said Keegan Paluso, Senior Music Education major from Memphis, Tenn.

"Mr. Dunleavy is an amazing musician. It's interesting that he refurbishes these instruments that he plays. It shows such an intimacy of knowing the instrument. He has a true genuine art to make and play these instruments," said Rick Drewry, Junior Music Education major from Smyrna, Tenn.

To end the program, the entire ensemble, along with Dunleavy, took the stage for their final piece, "Number 2," by Dave Longfellow. By the motion and movement of heads in the audience, you could tell that everyone was getting into the beat and sound effect of this piece.

There is nothing like good music, but when you have musicians playing what they love and showing how they love it, it incorporates an enjoyment that's hard to explain. I look forward to the next concert series.

For more information about UTM Percussion, visit or email:

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