Marrs to lead last Percussion Ensemble concert, featuring iconic work


An upcoming performance will mark the end of an era in the University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts.

Dr. Stuart Marrs, longtime professor in the Division of Music and leader of UMaine’s Percussion Ensemble, will lead the latter group for the final time in their upcoming concert. The performance is scheduled for April 18 at 7:30 PM in Minsky Recital Hall, with a reception to follow in the Hudson Museum at the Collins Center for the Arts. The performance is free and open to the public.

Marrs will lead the ensemble through a number of noteworthy works, though the focus of the evening will be on Edgard Varèse’s Ionisation, a groundbreaking piece for 13 players using 40 percussion instruments.

Ionisation is the centerpiece of the evening for good reason, an iconic composition that Varèse himself called “cryptic, synthesized, powerful and terse.” It is also one of the centerpieces of Marrs’ own academic research – research that will be incorporated into this upcoming performance.

“I have made two research pilgrimages to study autograph manuscripts of this work: one to the New York Public Library, where a preliminary sketch for the work is housed in its special collections; and another trip to the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, where the final autograph manuscript is archived,” Marrs said. “I discovered many discrepancies between those documents and the various published scores and have endeavored to incorporate those findings into [this] performance.”

Other works to be performed as part of the program include Gainsborough by Thomas Gauger, Toccata by Carlos Chávez, Eight Inventions op. 45 by Miloslav Kabeláč and Descarga Cubana by Henrik Beck.

This concert provides audiences with one more opportunity to experience UMaine’s Percussion Ensemble as led by the man who has spent over three decades at its helm. The beat will go on, of course, but the rhythm will be just a little different without Stuart Marrs.