The Yale Percussion Group: unplanned and unbelievable

This past Saturday night, on a whim, my wife, daughters and I attended a performance by the Yale Percussion Group under the artistic direction of Robert Van Sice. (More here.) We only knew about the concert because my daughter’s composition teacher suggested it as way for her students to earn extra credit and as a topic for their quarterly concert reviews. We had no idea what to expect. I attended one percussion recital during my one year as music performance major but that was it for expectations.

The group is comprised of artists from around the world who have come for graduate study under Mr. van Sice. The members of the current iteration of the Yale Percussion Group are: Candy Chiu, Leonardo Gorosito, Denis Petrunin, Michael Zell, John Corkhill and Ian Rosenbaum. Flutist Daria Nikolenko played L’histoire de tango but I’m not sure if she is a formal member of the group.

The performance was nothing short of extraordinary. Beginning with the precision and humor of Musique de Tables (played on an amplified table) and ending with the whimsical theater of Dressur performed with what appeared to be numerous homemade and found objects, the evening was two hours of surprise, joy, and celebration of musical expression. A performance of Musique de Tables from the 2009 Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention can be seen here.

The program:

Musique de Tables (1987) by Thierry De Mey
L’histoire du tango (ca. 1985) by Astor Piazzolla
Rogosanti (1986) by James Wood
Third Construction (1941) by John Cage
Dressur (1976/77) by Mauricio Kagel

Upcoming events can be found at:

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2 Responses to The Yale Percussion Group: unplanned and unbelievable

  1. Michael Zell says:

    Dear Bruce,

    My name is Michael Zell, I’m one of the current members of the Yale Percussion Group. Thank you for coming to our concert in February, we are thrilled that you enjoyed it.

    I have a YouTube page with several videos from other YPG concerts, as well as a few additional percussion videos of my own. If you’re interested, please check them out here:



    • Bruce says:

      Hi Michael,

      It was truly an inspirational experience – to watch such dedication and passion first hand. My daughter attends the Educational Center for Arts (cello) and, with all the other distractions that high school kids have, the opportunity for young musicians to see world-class caliber musicians – in such an intimate venue – can help them see their own possibilities. Thanks for reaching out and for the link – I’m heading there now.


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