Looking back to TCU Percussion’s PASIC experience


TCU Percussion at PASIC. (Photo courtesy of TCU Percussion.)

By Caleb Gottry, TCU 360 Staff Writer

Over 30 percussion students traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana from from November 9-12 to represent Texas Christian University at PASIC (The Percussive Arts Society International Convention), one of the largest percussion and drum events in the world.

Not only were they in attendance, but, for the sixth time since 2000, they were invited to present a showcase concert on this international stage. 

The TCU Percussion Orchestra received this invite after being one of three winners in the International Percussion Ensemble Competition (IPEC). An ensemble can only earn the invite to present an IPEC showcase concert once every three years, and TCU Percussion has maintained a consistent track record, performing a showcase concert at PASIC in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2022. 

“This work started years and years ago and continues every day and every semester,” said Brian West, professor and coordinator of percussion at TCU. “Basically, it is how we do things in the TCU Percussion Studio. We work very hard to prepare our students for the life of being a professional musician. We don’t work extra hard one semester, we work hard every semester, and our students leave TCU very well poised for success in their music careers.”

After several months of preparation and a farewell concert in The Van Cliburn Concert Hall, TCU Percussion faculty and students hit the road. On the way to PASIC, they performed at Forney High School in Forney, TX and at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, IN. 

“We didn’t use their equipment. We packed our truck and we practiced unloading our truck with all of our jobs, setting up all the equipment, which was so much equipment. Every marimba, we had to set up from scratch.” said Hezan Daroona, a first-year music education major with percussion focus, “When we got to PASIC, it just felt like we were doing it again. We knew it was the last time, but we were prepared in the logistical sense and, when it comes to performing, we had just played it so many times.”

During the convention itself, the TCU Percussion Orchestra I and II performed an hour-long concert for a record crowd. TCU Percussion commissioned five new pieces for this concert, West explained, including one by TCU alumnus Jacob Remington and one by current TCU student Harrison Collins. 

Several percussionists also chose to compete at PASIC in the Concert Chamber Percussion Ensemble Competition and as soloists and two smaller ensembles in the Individual and Ensemble Competition. Many of the pieces performed were written by current TCU students or TCU alumni. As soloists, TCU students placed first, second and third in the keyboard division and first in the tenor division.

“They chose to enter other competitions while they were there,” said West. “These decisions were made by the students themselves […] This was a lot of extra work, but they wanted to have these experiences while there at PASIC, and they did quite well!”

Several students spoke very highly about the experience at PASIC. Not only was this a prestigious performance and competitive opportunity for TCU Percussion, but students were able to attend concerts and clinics put on by some of the top performers and educators in percussion from around the world. 

“The thing about PASIC is that it is incredibly filled with people that are so willing to talk to you and willing to socialize. It’s a major connection opportunity,” said Isaac Chiang, senior music education major with percussion focus. “Educators and professors that maybe I’ve never talked to, but only heard of, I got to see them. Whenever they were available, I could walk up to any one of them and just introduce myself and talk to them. It was a great opportunity to build those connections that are important for the future.”

TCU Percussion will continue to perform at a high-caliber level in the hopes of returning to PASIC in three years to once again represent TCU at this international event.