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Scott Horey and his graduate percussion ensemble visit UMaine

On Wednesday night, the Minsky Recital Hall hosted Dr. Scott Horey, a University of Maine alumnus and his graduate students from the University of Science and Arts of Chiapas Graduate Percussion Ensemble.  

Horey is the director of the University of Science and Arts of Chiapas graduate percussion ensemble (abbreviated as UNICACH), and full professor of percussion at the school. His four students accompanying him to the United States are Sergio Lozano, Alena Rosas, Erika Osnaya Ruiz and Allison Mendoza, all of whom are pursuing their master’s of music with a focus in percussion.  

The four of them performed together on a singular marimba before performing another piece on two marimbas. The students performed with Horey as well as Jennifer Lang, a professor of violin at the University of Science and Arts of Chiapas.

Horey described the factors of choosing the pieces for the performance.

“[The piece] ‘Courage Has No Boundaries’ was especially powerful to perform during this concert, because of the very meaningful title and what it represents for all we have achieved together through the hard times of the pandemic in the past two years together,” Horey said.

Their performance showcased vibrant pieces of Latin music and Latin interpretations of pieces Horey enjoys.

“When I was a kid, the first types of music that really spoke to me were hard rock and heavy metal music, because it allowed me to express myself physically and emotionally and show strength and intensity,” Horey said. “Also, new age music (such as Yanni and Enya) as well as the classical music my mother was listening to gave me a sentimental, sensitive and calming reprieve that felt a nice contrast to the more energetic music. This music grew on me and became a very important part of feeling like myself.”

The graduate percussion quartet comes from a long line of excellence in one of the most important places in the historical development of the marimba, Horey’s specialty and passion. UNICACH, which is considered one of the best percussion schools in Mexico, has trained countless young marimba players and percussionists in the study of traditional Mexican marimba from Chiapas, including the classic marimba, contemporary marimba, solo contemporary percussion and orchestral percussion.

The ensemble performed a rendition of “Piece of My Heart” by Sting. Two members of the community joined them by playing the keyboard and the bass. Horey was on the marimba and Lang accompanied on the violin.

Horey’s graduate students were on full display, with every percussionist rounding out the music perfectly. Horey remarked that the music was going to sound different from what it would originally sound like at home in Mexico, because the marimbas they were playing on were factory-made. The marimbas they used in Chiapas were handmade, giving each instrument its own unique sound. 

Horey and his students greatly appreciated that UMaine gave them this opportunity and experience, which included teaching a percussion workshop to university students interested in cultural bridging in music.

“I have given many workshops and played many festivals of the years, usually as a solo artist,  but it has been especially powerful to work together and prepare with Jennifer and the four percussion students, because it involved so much teamwork, cultural exchange and musical blending,” Horey said. “We appreciate the chance to  share what we have to  offer and sincerely hope we left a strong and positive impression to  help inspire the students and campus community as we move forward during a time of change for our world!“

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