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07/24/2012

Winthrop Percussion Ensemble Wins Distinguished Award

Quick Facts

 The 12-student ensemble will perform at this year’s Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Austin, Texas, the largest annual gathering of percussionists in the world.
 Winthrop is the first university with a population of less than 20,000 students to win the competition.
 Past winners have included the University of North Texas Indonesian Gamelan Ensemble, the University of Wisconsin-Madison World Percussion Ensemble and the Indiana University World Percussion Ensemble.

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Michael Williams
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Thanks to the innovative featured use of the instrument mbiras, or “thumb pianos” from Zimbabwe, Winthrop University’s Percussion Ensemble has won the 2012 World Music Percussion Ensemble Competition Award from the Percussive Arts Society.

Michael Williams, music professor and director of the Winthrop Percussion Ensemble, said this is the percussive equivalent to an NCAA national championship.

“It will definitely put Winthrop on the map in the percussion world,” he said. “We will perform a full-length showcase concert at a convention of well over 6,000 attendees from around the world. This is the highest honor any collegiate percussion group can receive.”

The 12-student ensemble will perform at this year’s Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Austin, Texas. It is the largest annual gathering of percussionists in the world with approximately 100 performers/ensembles chosen from more than 1,000 applicants. Past winners have included the University of North Texas Indonesian Gamelan Ensemble, the University of Wisconsin-Madison World Percussion Ensemble and the Indiana University World Percussion Ensemble. 

Winthrop is the first university with a population of less than 20,000 students to win the competition, said Kenyon Williams, non-voting chair of the Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Committee. Being chosen to perform at the showcase is an incredibly competitive process and a great honor, he added.

“Winthrop's application video had a new spin in that it heavily featured mbira performance, a particular specialty of Michael Williams, which would make it the first ensemble to apply that had this African instrument as an intrinsic part of the application,” he said. “I believe all the judges found a certain appeal in that.”

Entering its fourth year, the international competition is for ensembles that specialize in world, global, or ethnic percussion. Schools nominate themselves and must submit a 30-minute DVD from a live concert performance filmed within the previous year. 

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