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RWCMD Percussion Welcomes New Faces

6 January 2015

Continuing its ambitious plan for the development and enhancement of its Percussion training provision, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is delighted to announce that the UK’s most virtuosic percussion duo, O Duo will be joining the teaching staff, with percussion guru Kevin Hathway as its inaugural Ev-entz Chair of Percussion.

“Percussionists are the unsung heroes of the music world”
Head of Percussion, Kevin Price

This term renowned percussionist She-e Wu has visited the College, giving a masterclass to students and performing with Royal Welsh College and Royal College of Music students in the Dora Stoutzker Hall. Colin Currie will be performing at the College in March.

The vibrant and exciting Percussion department at RWCMD offers performance opportunities embracing all musical styles set within a course of study which enables each student to work with leading professionals of international standing, creating versatile and employable future professionals. As part of the ongoing enhancement of the College’s world-class facilities, Percussion practice facilities have recently been developed with a large rehearsal suite, three purpose-built practice booths and a variety of new instruments.

O Duo’s Owen Gunnell in a percussion workshop

O Duo’s Owen Gunnell in a percussion workshop

Owen Gunnell, “The great thing about percussion is the variety of the instruments and the repertoire, whether it be playing the triangle in the Sorcerers Apprentice or the marimba in Steve Reich’s Sextet, percussionists have to be extremely versatile these days.”

Head of Percussion Kevin Price adds, “The ensembles at RWCMD, which include percussionists, is varied and diverse and includes six orchestras, two brass bands, a wind orchestra, brass ensembles and a specialist percussion ensemble – all requiring the commitment and expertise of specialist percussion students and tutors.”

The College also has excellent links with professional percussion artists both locally and internationally, with masterclasses punctuating the academic year and students receiving one to one tuition and specialist advice throughout their course from acclaimed professionals. Musicians with locally based orchestras WNO and BBC NOW provide tuition and mentoring support to students and offer unique access to rehearsals. Future collaborations include RWCMD percussionists accompanying outstanding soloists, BBC Symphony Orchestra principal Colin Curry, and International Marimba soloist, She-e Wu, in an evening recital.


Editors’ Notes

Among the three new full time percussion students is postgraduate Diogo Gomes, who arrived from Portugal at the start of term. “I was so happy to discover that Owen would be my teacher. His approach seems very similar to mine. He likes to have fun with the music and take some risks in his performance.”

Erasmus students Mattia Basi from the Conservatorio di Musica in Verona and Agnieszka Nowicka from the Academy of Music in Lodz, Poland also join the department this term.

Outreach work is an important part of the College’s training offer and percussion ensembles are ideally suited to take exciting, creative projects to children of all ages. In addition to his Royal Welsh College teaching, Principal Timpanist at Welsh National Opera, Patrick King, leads workshops and creates opportunities in the community which enable College students and local children to collaborate and explore percussion at every level. This investment of time and talent creates opportunities which can open professional doors and lead to life-changing opportunities, as reflected in the experience of graduate Matt Hardy, now Principal Timpanist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. As Matt says, “The orchestral and ensemble opportunities on offer at Royal Welsh College are the main reason why I’m now working in this orchestra.”