Professor Andy Baldwin, instructor of percussion at Northwestern, had an idea. His idea was to put orchestral and band instruments on the bench, and instead offer an ensemble featuring only percussion and rhythm instruments. With this dream, the 2023 NW Percussion Ensemble was born. Usually in an orchestra or symphonic band, percussionists are at the back of the stage, providing rhythm to accompany the string and wind instruments. In these settings, percussionists are heard but not seen. A percussion ensemble, however, is a group of musicians that play pieces solely on percussion instruments, such as the toms, snare drum, marimba, piano, bass drum, xylophone and triangle. It offers musicians that are used to hiding behind tubas the chance to take center stage and perform music that shows off the unique sounds and capabilities of percussion instruments. These types of ensembles have existed for hundreds of years, whether it be in traditional drum circles or classical groups. There has always been something enticing about music derived solely from rhythm. According to Professor Baldwin, “…the symphony orchestra had its couple hundred years, band has had its hundred years, but we are now in the age of percussion and rhythm ensembles.” This is the era of innovation and new music for drummers, which makes NW’s ensemble especially relevant. If there’s one person that would know about the history and trends of percussion, it’s Professor Baldwin. After completing a masters degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, he has workedwith the NW music program teaching lessons and provided support to the percussion section for several years. He also serves as a music adjunct for Dordt. Despite that one shortcoming, he has years of experience among renowned ensembles around the country, including the Piano Guys, Olivet Nazarene University Percussion Ensemble and the Salt Lake Symphony to name a few. With Professor Baldwin’s reputation and experience, the NW ensemble is sure to achieve a high standard of musicianship.This year’s ensemble is seven members strong, each representing a variety of abilities and talents. While some of these students have been playing classical drums for years, others have once seen a cowbell. Freshman Nathan Jensen says that he “decided to sign up because percussion ensembles are given so much freedom to make unique music. Being a percussionist doesn’t mean just hitting stuff; it is a vast area of potential to use random objects and make music from them.” Professor Baldwin shares a similarvision for the ensemble, and aims to show the versatility of percussion instruments through pieces featuring keyboards, hand drums and traditional concert instruments. The percussion ensemble will be performing alongside the NW Jazz Band on April 22 at 7:30 p.m., so be sure to support the music department in their endeavors to bring joy and art through bold instrumentation and sounds.