A concert of friends: UMD Wind Orchestra performs Baljinder Sekhon’s Double Percussion Concerto for Two Solo Percussionists and Wind Ensemble
This blog post is by Emily Schweich, a junior broadcast journalism major.
The UMD Wind Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Michael Votta, presents its first concert of the season, featuring Baljinder Sekhon’s Double Percussion Concerto for Two Solo Percussionists and Wind Ensemble. I spoke with Dr. Lee Hinkle, percussion lecturer and director of the percussion ensemble at the UMD School of Music, who is one of the two solo percussionists. The other is his former teacher and mentor Robert McCormick.
For Hinkle, sharing the stage with his mentor is a special experience. “I really became a player under his leadership...[Bob] taught me how to appreciate what is quality music, and he taught me how to navigate the industry.”
Hinkle and McCormick first premiered the piece with the University of South Florida Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in March 2014. Hinkle plays a five-octave marimba, McCormick plays a vibraphone and the two share a set of drums.
“The way that [Sekhon] uses the wind orchestra to accompany and complement the percussion is very creative and interesting,” Hinkle said. In some of the piece’s more lyrical moments, the percussion soloists use bass bows on the mallet percussion instruments, creating a unique fusion of timbres and colors.
The piece relies heavily on the percussion section within the wind orchestra as well. “There are a lot of sections of this piece where it almost becomes kind of like a percussion ensemble for a moment and then it goes back to being a full band,” Hinkle said.
For Hinkle, sharing the stage with his mentor is a special experience.
“I really became a player under his leadership,” Hinkle said. “Bob taught me how to listen to music. He taught me how to appreciate what is quality music, and he taught me how to navigate the industry.”
In high school, Hinkle studied percussion and voice but had little knowledge about the music business. He considered attending some smaller private schools for his undergraduate degree but, after a recommendation from his voice teacher, Hinkle auditioned for the University of South Florida on a whim.
“I just sort of fell into Bob’s lap, and he happens to be one of the best mentors and teachers that’s out there,” Hinkle said with a laugh.
Even after graduating, the two have stayed close.
“He has coached me through the job-seeking process and staying motivated about playing, just basically life advice from that point forward,” Hinkle said.
Sekhon himself will be in attendance for the performance and will have a “mini-residency” at the School of Music, where he will speak about his compositional process and work with percussion students studying his music. Sekhon and Hinkle have worked closely together for the past five years, as the UMD Percussion Ensemble has played almost all of Sekhon’s compositions.
“He’s also become a really good friend over the years,” Hinkle said.
Hinkle said he has also enjoyed rehearsing with Votta and the orchestra members, many of whom he has taught in lessons and in percussion technique pedagogy.
“Sounds like a concert of friends, in a way,” I said.
“Yeah,” Hinkle said. “I guess a lot of music concerts are.”
UMD Wind Orchestra’s first concert, featuring the Double Percussion Concerto, is Saturday, October 11 at 8PM in Dekelboum Concert Hall.