Percussion students perform self-written works inspired by Miles Davis, Basquiat, Dial

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Percussion students from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music show off their composition and performance chops in the UGA Percussion Ensemble’s first fall concert in Ramsey Concert Hall on Wednesday, October 11, at 3:30 p.m. 

The ensemble will perform all original compositions, written by the performers themselves and inspired by the artwork of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Miles Davis and Thornton Dial. These artists were selected as part of an assignment given to the ensemble by its directors, Timothy K. Adams Jr. and Kimberly Toscano.

“These particular artists were chosen because we feel their contributions were pivotal in the direction art and music moved in the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Adams, percussion area chair at the Hodgson School. “They touch the human condition from opposite ends of the spectrum from our perspective.”

Seven percussion students, divided into an undergraduate quartet and graduate trio, were given two parameters for the assignment: compose three original works inspired by each of the artists and have each piece be between three and four minutes long. 

“Other than these guidelines, we have been completely free to choose works of art that speak to us directly as musicians,” said Trevor Barroero, a graduate percussion performance student. “The composition process for each of our works has varied from true improvisation to more structured, written-out composition.”

Works of art from Basquiat, Davis and Dial will be shown during the performance so that audience members might gain some insight into the students’ compositional thought processes.

“We thought this assignment would be a great challenge to make an attempt at getting to the bottom of what these artists were thinking in their masterpieces and how the art made the students feel,” said Adams.

This performance is presented admission-free.

The Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia sponsors more than 350 performances each year. Go to to view the school’s performance calendar, subscribe to the weekly email newsletter, and learn more about the School of Music.