Music senior goes out with a bang in percussion solo

Music student Samson Lawrence performs a marimba solo, among other percussion pieces, for his senior recital Wednesday night. Vanguard Photo | Matt Hintz

Samson Lawrence played percussion solos and an original arrangement for his Wednesday, Oct. 30, senior recital.

He described his performance as “a hodgepodge of contrasting musical styles” he discovered during his time at SVSU.

His played his first two pieces, “Odessa” and “Two Mexican Dances for Marimba,” on the marimba. For his third piece, “Rebonds B,” Lawrence played various percussion instruments.

Lawrence’s fourth piece, “Mourning Dove Sonnet,” featured the vibraphone. He described the piece as being a contemporary solo that “uses extended playing techniques.”

Lawrence was then joined by three fellow musicians for his arrangement of the jazz ballad “Rain, Rain Go Away.”

Lily Reyes, a music education senior, played bass for Lawrence’s arrangement. She said she was glad to have been part of his recital and enjoyed his interpretation of the piece.

“I thought his arrangement … gave the original, which is just piano, more character due to the different timbres from the various percussion instruments,” she said.

Josh Braley, a computer science junior, played the drums for the joint piece. He said their biggest struggle in rehearsing the arrangement was finding time all four musicians were available.

“We are thankfully all skilled musicians, so we were able to put things together despite life getting in the way,” Braley said.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, a drumline coach, played the marimba for “Rain, Rain Go Away.” He praised Lawrence’s ability to take on the original piece and transform it into something new.

“This was originally a piece for piano, bass and drums,” Fitzgibbon said. “He did a great job figuring out how it could work on mallet instruments.”

Lawrence then played “Variations on Japanese Children’s Songs” on marimba and “Hands Down” on the bongos.

He said his greatest challenge was running through all seven pieces, six of which were solos, consecutively.

“Playing one full piece of music takes a good amount of physical and mental endurance,” he said. “That’s especially true if you’re performing seven different pieces in one limited time frame.”

Fitzgibbon said Lawrence took on a lot with the pieces he performed for his recital.

“The pieces he chose for his recital were very challenging,” Fitzgibbon said. “It was a ton of work preparing them. In the end, he was able to deliver an incredible performance.”

Reyes agreed that Lawrence’s performance was proof of his talent.

“(Lawrence) is a very hard worker and an amazing percussionist, so I really didn’t expect anything less from him,” she said.

Lawrence said the recital was a chance to share his love for performing music with the audience.

“Playing a piece of music that I enjoy has always significantly motivated me on a personal level, so it (was) my pleasure to share my energy and passion for music with them,” he said.

He said students should step outside their comfort zones, just as he did for his recital.

“You may not sound great the first time you try … and that’s perfectly all right,” he said. “The important thing is to keep trying. The more experience you gain with anything you do, the more comfortable … you become.”

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