Department of Music

Program Notes: Wind Symphony & Percussion Ensemble - 04/21/2023

Program annotations for the Brown University Wind Symphony & Percussion Ensemble's performance on Friday, April 21, 2023 in Grant Recital Hall.

Percussion Ensemble

Influential Motives (2011) by Ray Flores

TD Orchestra

What Makes Us Human (2023) by Tatsuya Daniel

Wind Symphony

Concertino for Four Percussion and Wind Ensemble (1997) by David R. Gillingham (b.1947)
Marching Song of Democracy (1916) by Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
Vientos y Tangos (2004) by Michael Gandolfi (b.1956)
Of Our New Day Begun (2015) by Omar Thomas (b.1984)

About the Musicians


Grace Marshburn (piccolo)
Alejandro Gonzalez-Palmer
Dixi Han
Khalil Desai
Mason Zhang
Yiyang Xu
Ning Lan


Jillian Belluck
Megan Carlson


Seth Peiris


Gordon Sherman
Valentin Garcia
Erin Morissette
Ayushman Choudhury
Jordan Feldman
Bryce Gray
Jared Sonkin
Tyler Alexander
Dana Lee

Bass Clarinet

Matthew Rossman
Nathaniel Scott

Alto Saxophone

Timothy Chen
Zeno Chen
Yongkuan Zhang
Jinho Kim
Roshan Parikh

Tenor Saxophone

Haley Damon
Shane Weiner

Baritone Saxophone

Weston Poe


Bailey Smoko
Nikhil Reuben
Levi Neuwirth
Patrick Jennings


Susan Tang
Harshil Garg
Annalies Kleyheeg


Cedric Sirianni
Gareth Mansfield
Logan Tullai
Olivia Cartaño
Victoria Rose


Ethan Vivoda-Sadee


Milan Pandey


Megan Ball
Tats Daniel+
Jonathan Dou
Kate Javerbaum
Ian Gurland*
Ryan Lee
Dawson Phillips*
Peter Popescu*
Ryan Sawyer
Alexander Zhou*

(*percussion ensemble only)
(+percussion section leader)

Piano – Linda Xu (Brown, 4/21 concert), Claire Southard (MIT, 4/22 concert)  Choir Synth – Ayushman Choudhury (Brown, 4/21 concert), Charlotte Wickert (MIT, 4/22 concert)  Electric Guitar – Sebastian Franjou (MIT)  

Electric Bass – Hermand Duverne (Brown)  

Drum Set – Ari Weingarten (Brown)  

Marimba 1 – Dawson Phillips (Brown)  

Marimba 2 – Ryan Sawyer (Brown)  

Vibraphone 1 – Daniel Villagran (MIT)  

Vibraphone 2 – Peter Popescu (Brown)  

Xylophone – Megan Ball (Brown)  

Glockenspiel – Frank Wang (MIT)  

Chimes – Kate Javerbaum (Brown)  

Crotales – Austin Xiang (Brown, 4/21 concert), Lisa Blomberg (MIT, 4/22 concert)  Concert Snare Drum – Jonathan Dou (Brown)  

Concert Bass Drum, Bell Tree – Ethan Vivoda-Sadee (Brown)  

Concert Toms – Ian Gurland (Brown)  

Triangle – Ryan Lee (Brown)  

Tambourine – Erin Morissette (Brown)  

Suspended Cymbal – Tats Daniel (Brown)  

Crash Cymbals – Rila Shishido (MIT)  

Congas – Jillian Belluck (Brown)  

Bongos – Krishnan Raju (Brown)  

Cabasa – Alex Gonzalez-Ayala (MIT)  

Guiro – Bailey Smoko (Brown)  

Claves – David Jin (MIT)  

Hand Clap – Phoebe Hong (Brown)  

Maracas – Kanayo Duru (Brown)  

Timpani, Mark Tree – Alex Zhou (Brown)

There is no musical institution more imbedded in American history than a concert band. With its strong sense of community and participatory consensus, the Brown University Wind Symphony & Percussion Ensemble reflect the unique ethos of the college itself. Students from very different concentrations—from Engineering to Egyptology—play, conduct, and compose new music for the band, making it one of the most diverse groups in the department. In addition to standard works by Holst, Mozart, and Hindemith, the group performs new pieces written for unique combinations of instruments.

Woonsocket, Rhode Island native, Kevin Plouffe earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from the New England Conservatory in 1992 and a Master’s Degree in Music Education with an emphasis in conducting from the University of Rhode Island in 1994.  Kevin served sixteen years as band director at Woonsocket High School, where his responsibilities included directing the marching band, concert band, jazz band, and percussion ensembles, as well as serving as the music department representative.  Kevin taught in the Killingly, Connecticut public schools for seven years. He was the band director and jazz band director at Killingly Intermediate School, where he taught band to 175-200 students yearly in grades 6-8. His middle school bands have consistently won awards at local music festivals. He was also the Killingly High School assistant marching band director and drum line instructor. Currently, he is the band director at North Smithfield High School. There he directors the award winning concert band and jazz ensemble.

Kevin Plouffe has been active at Brown University for the last 21 years teaching percussion through the applied music program, coaching the Brown University Wind Symphony Percussion Section, and conducting the Brown University Percussion Ensemble.  He also served as guest conductor of the Brown University Wind Symphony on numerous occasions before assuming the podium for the 2019-2020 academic year.

He is past president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society, a position he held for over ten years.  Kevin is the current vice president/treasurer. He founded the RI-PAS Percussion Ensemble adjudication festival, which has been running annually since 2001, attracting secondary level percussion ensembles and guest artists from throughout southern New England.  He is the founder of the Blackstone Valley High School Jazz Festival at the Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre.  His past experience includes, Band Director at Norwood High School, Director of Rhode Island Music Educators’ Association Junior All-State Jazz Ensemble, Director of the Quabbin Valley Middle School Honor Band, Director of the Massachusett Central District Middle School Honor Band, and faculty member at the University of New Hampshire Summer Youth Music School. He has performed with numerous orchestras throughout New England: the RI and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, the Worcester Symphony Orchestra, New Bedford and Plymouth Symphony and Theatre by the Sea to name a few.  Kevin resides in Mapleville, RI with his wife, Diane who is the director of music, an accomplished string teacher and orchestra director, in Franklin, MA, as well as a free-lance violinist, and his two daughters.

About the Program

Ray Flores has been an educator for 24 years and is the Head Director at Briscoe Middle School in Northside ISD in San Antonio, TX. He has also been named Educator of the Year for his campus twice in the last 12 years.

His primary instrument is percussion, and his experience ranges from concert bands, jazz band, steel drum ensemble, percussion ensembles and marching band. His marching band arrangements have been consistent First Division award winners at UIL as well as UIL State Marching Contest. Ray is also an accomplished concert band director and has had consistent success at UIL Concert and Sightreading Contests.

As a composer, Ray composes for a wide genre. His percussion ensembles are published by Row-Loff Productions & Flo Flo Music. Several of his compositions are on Prescribed Music Lists in several states including the Texas UIL PML. He also does commission work for full orchestra, concert bands and even has written music for digital media.

Tonight, about 30 TD Orchestra members will premiere one of the pieces on the  orchestra’s next album live in the USA; the piece is called What Makes Us Human and will be  dedicated to the TD Orchestra music schools around the world, and to all of the people and  communities they serve. The piece is scored for concert percussion, piano, synthesizer, drums,  electric bass and electric guitar. There will be two performances of the piece – one at Brown  University (Providence, RI, USA) on Friday, April 21, and one at MIT (Cambridge, MA, USA) on  Saturday, April 22, both starting at 8pm EDT. The orchestra will perform What Makes Us Human live in July while on tour in Papua New Guinea. 

Tatsuya Daniel (b. 1998), aka Tats, is a PhD candidate in the physics department at Brown  University, where his research is in theoretical astrophysics and cosmology; he also works with  a quantum computing group at Chapman University in Los Angeles. Tats received his bachelor’s degree from MIT in 2020, where he studied physics and math, and was also a percussionist in the MIT Wind Ensemble and MIT Symphony Orchestra. Tats is still very active in the music scene throughout Boston and Providence, being involved with several music groups including the Brown Wind Symphony, Brown University Orchestra, Concord Orchestra, Kendall Square Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, and still playing with MIT groups.  

In November 2022, Tats founded the Tatsuya Daniel Orchestra, a growing group of currently over 100 musicians across the United States, many of whom study or have studied at institutions such as MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, UChicago, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music. The TD Orchestra’s mission is to perform and record brand new music by contemporary composers, to collaborate with musicians and artists around the world, and to establish music schools in many different countries. The TD Orchestra has collaborators throughout Africa, Asia and Europe, and it has already established music schools in Uganda, Ghana, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines; the schools, which offer instrumental, vocal, dancing and music theory lessons to thousands of students, are the first of their kind in these countries. The TD Orchestra music school program is expanding rapidly around the world, and the TD Orchestra is currently working on a new album that Tats has composed, which is scheduled to be released in 2024 and performed live in Boston shortly after its release.  

To learn more about the TD Orchestra, visit their website:, and one can also contact Tats directly via email:, if interested in  joining, collaborating with or supporting the orchestra.  

—program notes by Tats Daniel

The original conception of this work, Concertino for Four Percussion and Wind Ensemble, was commissioned by the Oklahoma State University Wind Ensemble, Joseph Missal, conductor and Wayne Bovenschen, Professor of Percussion studies. The Concertino or “small concerto” seeks to exploit keyboard, membrane, and auxiliary percussion instruments with the marimbas, xylophone, timpani, vibraphone, and bass drums as the featured instruments, assisted by crash cymbals, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, bells, chimes, triangle, and hi-hat to enhance both the ensemble and the solo instruments.

Two thematic motives are used as a point of departure for this work. Both appear in the slow and mysterious introduction. The first, played by the marimbas, is dramatic, and the second is haunting and played by the vibraphone and bells. The following Allegro is structured similar to a rondo with recurrences of both themes interspersed by episodic sections. The first theme, however, is transformed into a very lively arpeggiated tune played by the xylophone and marimba. The coda is marked by a relentless rhythmic competition of two sets of bass drums which accompany the primary thematic material as first heard in the slow introduction. The work draws to a resounding conclusion when the second haunting theme is stated dramatically in tour de force by the brass.

—program note from University of Missouri Wind Ensemble concert program, 3 December 2015

Grainger was inspired to write his Marching Song of Democracy while attending the Paris Exhibition of 1900.  A variety of artistic, philosophical, and musical sources were involved. These included the poetry of Walt Whitman (“A Backward Glance O’er Travl’d Roads” - Leaves of Grass), a statue of George Washington, and direct first acquaintance with John Philip Sousa and his band. Grainger first conceived his Marching Song in a setting far different from standard instrumental ensemble:

My original plan was to write my “Marching Song of Democracy” for voices and whistlers only (no instruments), and have it performed by a chorus of men, women and children, singing and whistling to the rhythmic accompaniment of their tramping feet as they marched along in the open air.  But a later realization of the need for instrumental color (inherent in the character of the music from the first) ultimately led me to score it for the concert hall. An athletic, out-of-door spirit must, however, be understood to be behind the piece from the start to finish.

The vocal parts are sung to “word-less” syllables such as children use in their thoughtless singing; firstly, because I thought that a more varied and instinctive vocalism could be obtained without the use of words in music of a polyphonic nature (a freely-moving many-voicedness is the natural musical counterpart of individualistic democratic tendencies), and secondly, because I did not want to pin the music down, at each moment, to the precise expression of such definite and concrete thoughts as words inevitably convey, but aimed at devoting it, rather, to a less “mental” immersion in a general central mood…

The work, which perhaps it might not be amiss to describe as a kind of modern and Australian version of the “Gloria” of a mass, carries the following dedication: “For my darling mother, united with her in loving adoration of Walt Whitman.”

—program note from the orchestral score of Marching Song of Democracy, Percy Grainger


He began the band score on July 4, 1948, and completed it later that month while on vacation at his sister-in-law’s home in Segeltorp, Sweden. Grainger’s Marching Song is a sprawling tone poem which encapsulates the post-romantic expressive qualities of Wagner, Richard Strauss, Mahler, and Bruckner. But the music is infused with Grainger’s own original compositional techniques and humanistic spirit.

In the Marching Song Grainger follows his lifelong pattern of avoiding development and recapitulation. In a matter later used by Stravinsky, Grainger introduced succeeding new themes that were capable of maintaining inherent interest and forward motion. Some of the themes were borrowed from sketches for his great orchestral work, Warriors (bar 50), and were used later in the Pastoral movement of the suite, In a Nutshell (bars 47-50 and 80-85).

Perhaps to illustrate that the “march of democracy” is unending, Grainger begins the score with a unison “C” and ends with a unison, unresolving and unrepentant, “F#”. While the harmonic language includes some of Grainger’s densest chromaticism, it is also colored by a clashing contrapuntal style he called “free music” - lines that soar and cross freely with little regard for harmonic results (bars 85-99).

—program notes by Keith Brion, via the publisher G. Shirmer

Vientos y Tangos (Winds and Tangos) was commissioned The Frank L. Battisti 70th Birthday Commission Project and is dedicated to Frank Battisti in recognition of his immense contributions to the advancement of concert wind literature. It was Mr. Battisti’s specific request that I write a tango for wind ensemble. In preparation for this piece, I devoted several months to the study and transcription of tangos from the early style of Juan D’arienzo and the “Tango Nuevo” style of Astor Piazzolla to the current trend of “Disco/Techno Tango,” among others. After immersing myself in this listening experience, I simply allowed the most salient features of these various tango to inform the direction of my work. The dynamic contour and the various instrumental combinations that I employ in the piece are all inspired by the traditional sounds of the bandoneon, violin, piano, and contrabass.

—program note by Michael Gandolfi

Of Our New Day Begun” was written to honor nine beautiful souls who lost their lives to a callous act of hatred and domestic terrorism on the evening of June 17, 2015 while worshipping in their beloved sanctuary, the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (affectionately referred to as “Mother Emanuel”) in Charleston, South Carolina. My greatest challenge in creating this work was walking the line between reverence for the victims and their families, and honoring my strong, bitter feelings towards both the perpetrator and the segments of our society that continue to create people like him. I realized that the most powerful musical expression I could offer incorporated elements from both sides of that line - embracing my pain and anger while being moved by the displays of grace and forgiveness demonstrated by the victims’ families.

Historically, black Americans have, in great number, turned to the church to find refuge and grounding in the most trying of times. Thus, the musical themes and ideas for “Of Our New Day Begun” are rooted in the Black American church tradition. The piece is anchored by James and John Johnson’s time-honored song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (known endearingly as the “Negro National Anthem”), and peppered with blues harmonies and melodies. Singing, stomping, and clapping are also prominent features of this work, as they have always been a mainstay of black music traditions, and the inclusion of the tambourine in these sections is a direct nod to black worship services.

Of Our New Day Begun” begins with a unison statement of a melodic cell from “Lift Every Voice….” before suddenly giving way to ghostly, bluesy chords in the horns and bassoons. This section moves to a dolorous and bitter dirge presentation of the anthem in irregularly shifting 12/8 and 6/8 meter, which grows in intensity as it offers fleeting glimmers of hope and relief answered by cries of blues-inspired licks. A maddening, ostinato-driven section representing a frustration and weariness that words cannot, grows into a group singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” fueled by the stomping and clapping reminiscent of the black church.

In the latter half of the piece the music turns hopeful, settling into 9/8 time and modulating up a step during its ascent to a glorious statement of the final lines of “Lift Every Voice….” in 4/4, honoring the powerful display of humanity set forth by the families of the victims. There is a long and emotional decrescendo that lands on a pensive and cathartic gospel-inspired hymnsong. Returning to 9/8 time, the piece comes to rest on a unison F that grows from a very distant hum to a thunderous roar, driven forward by march-like stomping to represent the ceaseless marching of black Americans towards equality.

The consortium assembled to create this work is led by Dr. Gary Schallert and the Western Kentucky University Wind Ensemble.

—program note by Omar Thomas