SUU’S Percussion Festival Concert

Date: April 13, 2013
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Thorley Recital Hall, Music Building, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT
Category: Arts and Entertainment



APRIL 13, 2013

Maraca2 Percussion Duo

Photo credit: Maraca2 Percussion Duo. Photo: Kristen Lyseggen


Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah: Engage your senses as Maraca2 Percussion Duo and percussionist Ken McGrath push the limits of percussion alongside Southern Utah University faculty member, Dr. Lynn Vartan and the SUU Percussion Ensemble. This performance is one night only and will be a concert to remember. Experience these master musicians in this engaging and exceptional concert when Southern Utah University’s Department of Music presents their annual Percussion Festival Concert. The performance begins at 7:30pm on Saturday, April 13th and will take place in the Thorley Recital Hall located in SUU’s Music Building. The concert is free, and the general public is encouraged to attend.

Ken McGrath has played for musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and Wicked and has been playing professionally since his senior year in high school. He received his bachelor of arts summa cum laude in percussion performance from UCLA and his masters of music in percussion performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Additional studies are extensive, and since 1993 McGrath has performed as a freelance percussionist in Southern California. He’s performed with many orchestras and symphonies, and he is currently a member of the New West Symphony. He’s toured with the LA Philharmonic throughout North America and Europe and has contributed to many recordings and broadcasts including numerous world and US premieres. With the LA Philharmonic's New Music Group, he’s performed at the Lincoln Center, the Ojai Music Festival, and the Green Umbrella Series. He’s performed extensively with dance companies such as American Ballet Theater, Bolshoi Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet. Other performances range in variety from Aretha Franklin to Andrea Bocelli, Eric Idle to Antony and the Johnsons, John Williams, Brian Wilson, and The Muppets. McGrath can be heard on soundtracks for films and video games by composers such as John Williams, John Powell, and Michael Giacchino. In addition to his busy performing schedule, McGrath keeps an equally fulfilling teaching and adjudicating schedule: He was the head drum line instructor for the UCLA Marching Band, and he adjudicated Drum Corps International competitions. He’s taught as a faculty, a guest, and has adjudicated at multiple institutions of higher learning across California. McGrath currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at California State University Fullerton and Riverside City College, and he’s the Percussion Coach at Harvard-Westlake Upper School. McGrath also maintains a private teaching studio, and some of his many students have gone on to pursue advanced degrees from prestigious institutions such as The Julliard School, New England Conservatory, Shepherd School of Music (Rice University), and Boston University. Some of his students have even become professional performers and educators, themselves. For more information, visit

Maraca2 Percussion Duo is one of the United Kingdom’s leading percussion ensembles performing internationally from the Isle of Man to Argentina. Group members, Tim Palmer and Jason Huxtable met while studying at the Birmingham Conservatoire where they attained the highest degree classifications and where they now teach. Maraca2 performs regularly at international festivals and has appeared at events including the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, the International Marimba Convention in Minneapolis, the Fundación Cultural Percussion Festival in Argentina, and Royal Northern College of Music’s Day of Percussion in Manchester. Maraca2 has performed in Europe at festivals and music events including a recent televised live concert in Belgrade. Media appearances include coverage on the BBC including a live performance on BBC Wales. The range of events Maraca2 has presented is notable in its variety including performances in traditional recital settings, on classical-themed cruises, fashion shows, and at sporting events. Maraca2 wrote and performed the music for the opening ceremony of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at the National Indoor Arena, have performed in dance clubs, and have performed at the opening of an Autumn/Winter Armani collection. As passionate educators, Maraca2 is involved with projects across abilities and cultures ranging from improvisation workshops with primary school children to formal master-classes with doctoral students and professionals. In 2009, Maraca2 first toured the United States visiting major Universities and giving master classes and performances to great acclaim. In addition to their involvement in the duo, Palmer and Huxtable maintain a busy freelance schedule and regularly play with the region’s most established ensembles including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. For more information, visit

Lynn Vartan is known for her dynamic athleticism and energy on stage. She’s an international performer and educator, an advocate for diversity in music, and is currently the director of percussion in Southern Utah University’s Department of Music. Vartan received her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California with special honors and recognition. As a percussionist, Dr. Vartan has worked with numerous professionals including the Grammy Award-winning Southwest Chamber Music. She has commissioned and/or performed countless new works. As a recital soloist, Dr. Vartan has been featured on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series, the Different Trains Series, in residence at universities nationally, and on the Music at the Court series in Pasadena, California where she produced her own solo percussion concerts. As a concert soloist, she’s performed with various orchestras including the Hubei Opera and Dance Company of Wuhan, China, the Sierra Wind Symphony, the Helena Symphony, The Orchestra of Southern Utah, Southwest Chamber Music, The Helena Symphony, and has premiered new concertos by American and Chinese composers. Dr. Vartan has participated in cultural exchange projects with Vietnam and China, and anticipates the “East Meets West” project designed around her as a soloist in Wuhan, China spring 2014. Dr. Vartan has appeared on many recordings and is three-time Grammy nominated with Southwest Chamber Music in "Best Classical Album of the Year" and "Best Small Ensemble with or without a conductor.” As a devoted ensemble musician, Lynn is the percussionist for Southwest Chamber Music and has cofounded and performs with 61/4 with Shalini Vijayan and Exacta with Tambuco's Miguel Gonzalez.

The SUU Percussion Ensemble performs historically significant works for percussion, contemporary percussion literature, novelty percussion, and traditional non-western percussion music. The Ensemble is comprised of both music majors and non-majors and welcomes students with a variety of levels of experience. Many performance opportunities are available for members of the Percussion Ensemble including concerts, performances, promotional events for the College of Performing and Visual Arts, and additional concerts on and off campus including performing for high school and other music programs throughout the state of Utah.

As part of this evening’s performance by Maraca2 Percussion Duo and Ken McGrath, Dr. Vartan will play on one of her favorite pieces, Tribeca Sunflower. The SUU Ensemble will play Hiquita (with four players on one marimba) and will give one of the first performances on a piece called Kyoto, which was recently premiered by the Eastman Percussion Ensemble.

Experience the best percussionists from England, Los Angeles, and Cedar City in one incredible evening of rhythm, beat, and musicianship. For more information on the SUU College of Performing and Visual Arts events, please call the Arts Hotline at (435) 865-8800 or visit