Described as a “true musical talent and professional” (Ivan Trevino, Composer), Eric Willie has a varied career as a solo performer, chamber musician, orchestral player, arranger, and teacher. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, at several Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, and on live broadcasts, such as Nashville’s NPR Station “Live In Studio C.”
Dr. Willie regularly performs with the Nief-Norf Project and the Legal Wood Project. Most recently, he opened the 2016 Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention (PASIC) with a performance of Franco Donatoni’s “Mari” for Solo Marimba. He has performed at the Big Ears Music Festival, eight PASICs, multiple Eastern Trombone Workshops, the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival, the World Saxophone Congress, and the Music for All National Percussion Festival. As an orchestral musician, he is a section member of the Winston-Salem Symphony, and has additionally performed as a percussionist with the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Ballet Orchestra, Greensboro Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic, Murfreesboro Symphony, Bryan Symphony, and the Beloit/Janesville Symphony.
An avid promoter of new music for percussion, Eric recently commissioned and performed the world premiere of “Flow,” by Ivan Trevino at the 2013 Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention. Prior, Eric performed the world premiere of John Mackey’s “Drum Music” (2011), a concerto for solo percussion and wind ensemble. In addition, Eric has commissioned and/or premiered works by Christopher Adler, Michael Burritt, Doug Bristol, Eric Cha-Beach, Elliott Cole, Greg Danner, Christopher Deane, Paul Lansky, Anna Meadors, Marc Mellits, Leroy Osmon, John Psathas, Josh Quillen, Baljinder Sekhon, Adam Silverman, D.J. Sparr, Jason Treuting, Blake Tyson, Alejandro Viñao, Matt Walker, Jamie Whitmarsh, and James Wood.
Active within the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Eric currently serves as Chair of the International Percussion Ensemble Committee and Vice President for the North Carolina Chapter of the Society. In addition, Eric has initiated and coordinate the PASIC International All-Star Percussion Ensemble, served as President and Vice-President for the Tennessee Chapter of PAS, as a New Literature and Recordings Reviewer for Percussive Notes journal, and has hosted three Days of Percussion.
In addition to his talents as a classical percussionist, Eric is known for his marching percussion arranging and teaching experience. He has served as a Percussion Consultant with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps (2012-2013), and instructor and/or arranger for the Spirit, Southwind, Carolina Crown, and the Madison Scouts drum and bugle corps. The University of North Texas, University of Kentucky, and the Murray State University Drum Lines have performed his marching percussion arrangements. He has also instructed for the University of North Texas “A” Line, Music City Mystique, and as Faculty for the Music for All World Percussion Symposium. As a clinician, Eric has appeared at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, IL, several days of percussion, as well as several state music educators’ conventions throughout the midwest and southeastern United States. His educational articles have appeared in The Instrumentalist and Percussive
Notes, and he is sponsored by Pearl/Adams, Innovative Percussion, Evans Drumheads, Meinl Percussion, and Black Swamp Percussion. His music has been published by Innovative Percussion and TapSpace publications.
Currently, Eric is the newly appointed Director of Percussion Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he directs a comprehensive percussion program. He directs the classical percussion ensemble and steel band, and serves as a member of the graduate faculty.
Eric and his wife, Rebecca (assitant concertmaster with the Winston-Salem Symphony), reside in Greensboro, NC, with their son Aiden, daughter Elina, dog Lucy, and their cats Mouki and Peaches.
DR. JASON KOONTZ – Cajon, Gyil (Ghanaian Xylophone) and other West African Percussion Instruments with the West Kentucky Honors Cajon Ensemble
Dr. Jason Koontz has served as director of percussion studies at Eastern Kentucky University since 2000. He currently teaches applied percussion, percussion ensemble, percussion methods, music appreciation, world music, and directs both the EKU Percussion Ensemble and the EKU Steel Band.
He has traveled to perform and study world music/percussion in Europe (England, Holland, and Switzerland), Japan, Taiwan, Trinidad, Africa, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. Koontz has also performed with groups such as Global Rhythms, Blast, Birdsong Steel Orchestra, Silver Stars Steel Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops and Ballet Orchestras, Lexington Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, Lexington Theater, the Art of Rice Traveling Theater (Indonesia), Tonus Percussion Trio, Resonance Percussion Sextet, Star of Indiana drum and bugle corps, Brass Theater, and the Southwind drum and bugle corps.
He is currently the Co-Director of the Birdsong Steel Orchestra’s “Panorama Educational Program” (Trinidad), Treasurer for the Kentucky Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society, a member of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention world music planning committee, a member of the Kentucky Music Educators Association, and is endorsed by Vic Firth Inc., Pearl, and Coyle Steel Drums. His compositions and arrangements for steel band and percussion ensemble are published by Drop 6 Media and Coyle Steel Drums, and Pan Ramajay Productions.
From contemporary chamber music to the traditions of the pageantry arts, percussion artist and pedagogue Dr. Brandon Arvay has appeared in some of the most visible venues in his profession. Having toured throughout the United States and Asia, he holds degrees from the University of South Carolina (B.M.E.), Colorado State University (M.M.), and the University of Kentucky (D.M.A.). Currently Percussion Instructor at Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, he is also Section Percussionist with the Lexington Philharmonic, staff Percussion Arranger for 16Parks Music, member of the Arvay/Younglove Duo, PR Manager for Global Première Consortium Commissioning Project, and Founder/CEO of Arvay Media.
Having an eclectic background, Brandon has taught chamber music, percussion repertoire, percussion pedagogy and literature, and marching percussion at every level. Brandon’s teaching honors include a Gold Medal with Palmetto Percussion at the 2010 WGI World Championships and numerous High Percussion awards. He has been a resident instructor at Wayne State University and the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, and regularly presents lectures and workshops throughout the United States. Brandon has numerous appeareances as a guest on the @Percussion Podcast, Pete’s Percussion Podcast, and is a contributing author for the PAS Educators’ Companion, Bluegrass Music News, Dansr, and serves on the PAS Education Committee.
As a performer, Brandon has appeared at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the American Bandmasters Association Convention, the College Band Directors National Association Convention, the International Saxophone Symposium, and State MEA Conventions. In his travels, he has performed throughout China and was featured on China Central Television. Brandon has collaborated with some of the world’s most respected performers (Marvin Hamlisch, Itzhak Perlman, Christine Brewer, Glenn Kotche, SO Percussion, Wycliffe Gordon, Matthew Morrision, Frederic Macerez, Miles Osland, Anders Astrand); conductors (George Daugherty, Gary Green, David Holsinger, Donald Portnoy, Wes Kenney, John Nardolillo, Scott Terrell); composers (Lewis Nielson, Adam Schoenberg, Baljinder Sekhon, Steven Snowden, James David).
He has commissioned works by Baljinder Sekhon, Eric Wubbels, Steven Snowden, Joe W. Moore, and Stephen Gorbos, and has played on a wide-range of audio recording projects, including the Ignite Series (C. Alan Pub. Co.), the Kollective Percussion Ensemble, Maiden (Classical Heritage Foundation), the UK Percussion Ensemble, and the self-titled album by the rock group Von Voigt. Brandon is an endorser for Innovative Percussion, Grover Pro Percussion and is a Yamaha Performing Artist.
For more information on Brandon’s activities, please visit www.brandonarvay.com.
Adam Hopper (b.1985) is an active percussion educator, composer, and performer in southern Kentucky. He is currently the director of percussion at Southwestern High School, and the director of bands at Southern Middle School in Somerset, Kentucky.
Mr. Hopper is involved in many aspects of the percussion landscape. An active performer and clinician. He has recently performed with Sacred Winds, The Orquesta Sinfonica Cristiana de El Salvador, Christine Anderson, The Almeida Duo, The Country Gentlemen Jazz Band, and serves as the principal percussionist in Somerset Big Band. He has presented clinics at a variety of schools and universities in the United States, El Salvador, and Brazil. Mr. Hopper is also an active composer and arranger, having written for and taught various groups at the middle, high school and university levels in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. Mr. Hopper’s compositions “Right Track”,“Ghost Garden”, “Bolado” and “You Can’t Get There From Here,” as well as his collection of snare drum solos, “Five on 5” are published through C. Alan Publications. In 2015, Mr. Hopper was named the the winner of the Heartland Marimba Festival’s Young Composer Competition for his piece “Island Market.” In 2016, Mr. Hopper completed a consortium series of marimba solos and quartets for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro entitled “The Bridge. Mr. Hopper also runs his own publishing company, Hopper Percussion, which specializes in custom arranged percussion works and commissions.
Since taking the position at Southwestern High School in 2009, Mr. Hopper’s groups have consistently earned proficient and distinguished ratings at festivals and competitions across the state and region. Mr. Hopper directs the award winning Indoor Drumline, Percussion Ensemble, and Batucada Brazilian Ensemble as well as overseeing the marching and symphonic percussion sections. Mr. Hopper’s groups have performed with touring productions of “The Music Man,” the Campbellsville University Steel Band, the Elk Grove Percussion Festival in Chicago, Illinois; The Lassiter Percussion Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia; The KASA Conference in Louisville, Kentucky; the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; the 2017 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana; and a variety of other performances around the region.
Mr. Hopper holds a Bachelor’s in Music Education as well as a Master’s in Percussion Performance from Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky. He has professional affiliations with the Kentucky Music Educators Association, and the Percussive Arts Society. Mr. Hopper is a proud endorser of Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Beetle practice pads, and Meinl Cymbals. He currently resides in Somerset, Kentucky with his wife Sarah and their cats Bossa and Thelonious.
Percussionist Katelynn Ward maintains an active presence in the state of Kentucky as a performer and educator. Ms. Ward has worked with band programs such as Muhlenberg County, Madison County, Scott County, and McLean County High Schools. Ms. Ward has previously been a clinician and performer at the WKYPF 2015 and 2016.
Ms. Ward is a graduate of Muhlenberg County High School where she studied under Percussion Director Rick Gardner. An alumnus of the Kentucky Governors School for the Arts, she was an All-State percussionist for 3 years and also a member of the KMEA All-State Percussion Ensemble.
Ms. Ward is currently pursuing baccalaureates in Music Education and Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance degrees from Eastern Kentucky University under the direction of Dr. Jason Koontz. During her studies at EKU, she has been a member of numerous university ensembles, such as Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the Marching Colonels Marching Band, Symphony Orchestra, Steel Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Basketball Pep Band. She has been a member of the Dean’s and President’s lists throughout her time at EKU. She is also a member and the current treasurer of a nationally renowned women’s music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, Eta-Sigma chapter. Ms. Ward has been able to perform in other states of the country, and compete internationally with Birdsong in Panorama 2016 during Carnival in the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Ms. Ward was also able to compete with Laborie Steel Orchestra at St. Lucia Panorama 2016 where the group won the national panorama champion title. At EKU, she was also a finalist in the 2017 Concerto Competition. Her career goals include attaining a Master’s Degree and teaching percussion.