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Artist profile: Patrick Roulet brings global music to WWU

Patrick Roulet, percussion area coordinator and assistant professor of music at Western Western Washington University, features Dan Piccolo on Oct. 21 at Western’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall in the first concert in the Global Spice series.
Patrick Roulet, percussion area coordinator and assistant professor of music at Western Western Washington University, features Dan Piccolo on Oct. 21 at Western’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall in the first concert in the Global Spice series. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Western Washington University welcomes Dan Piccolo, an American drummer, percussionist and composer, for the inaugural concert of the Global Spice World Music Series on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Western’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

Global Spice is a new concert series created by Patrick Roulet, percussion area coordinator and assistant professor of music at Western, to highlight music that blends Western and non-Western traditions and explores the fusion of world music with contemporary, classical, jazz and popular music styles. Each program will feature a visiting guest performer joined by local artists from Bellingham and elsewhere in the Northwest.

WWU alumnus Karl Olson, and Bellingham percussionists Melanie Sehman and Steve Sehman will also perform.

Roulet was on Western’s faculty as an adjunct instructor from 1994 to 2004.

Piccolo performs throughout the U.S., and has traveled several times to India to study drumming of the north Indian tabla as a disciple of Pandit Kuber Nath Mishra. He will be joined in the concert by Roulet, WWU alumnus Karl Olson, and Bellingham percussionists Melanie Sehman and Steve Sehman.

More about Roulet: prpercussion.com. Here’s more about him and the series:

Question: What you do teach at Western?

Answer: I teach percussion lessons and percussion class for music educators, direct the percussion ensemble, and I teach a large lecture class called Survey of Non-Western Music, which fulfills a general university requirement for undergraduates.

Q: Why did you return to Western?

A: After leaving WWU in 2004, I taught at Southern Utah University and Towson University outside of Baltimore. Towson had a larger music program and was in a major metropolitan area, but I missed the community feel and the terrific vibe of Western and the Bellingham community. When WWU announced a job opening last year, I applied and went through all the stages of the formal interview and was very pleased to have been selected.

In the spring we will have Valerie Naranjo, the percussionist from the Saturday Night Live Band and a master of Ghanaian music.

Patrick Roulet, WWU professor and concert series creator

Q: When did you become interested in music?

A: My father was my biggest inspiration and the reason I play percussion today. He is a recording engineer and semi-professional jazz drummer. I grew up hearing him play at his weekly Friday night gigs.

I was lucky to have grown up in Virginia in the suburban Washington, D.C., area, where I was surrounded by great music and terrific teachers. The principal percussionist of the U.S. Air Force Band moved into my neighborhood when I was in eighth grade. Soon after starting lessons with him I became very serious and decided to make a go of music as a career.

Q: What are some of the highlights of your career?

A: I have been fortunate to have performed regularly with the Seattle Symphony and was the principal timpanist of the Bellingham Festival of Music for five seasons. I recently performed with the Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra for their opening production.

Q: And you compose as well?

A: Over the past few years, I have published seven books of arrangements for marimba and vibraphone, including two books of Beatles songs.

I have a ferocious curiosity for music and am always trying to learn and master new things. About eight years ago, I traveled to Ghana to study drumming and the traditional xylophone of Ghana, called the gyil. It has been a great challenge for me to learn more about the music of the world.

Q: How did the Global Spice series come about?

A: I created the concert series to bring a global facet to the musical offerings of Western’s music department. Dan Piccolo has become an accomplished tabla player in addition to his talents as a drummer and classical percussionist.

Dan and I will be joined by members of the Bellingham musical community: Melanie and Steve Sehman and a former student mine from WWU, Karl Olson who is the drummer for the band Polecat.

Our program will center on the rhythm and compositional styles of Indian music as seen through the eyes of Western composers. Dan will perform on tabla, a pair of small tuned drums that form the main rhythmic instrument in north-Indian instrumental music.

Q: What’s next in the series?

A: In the spring we will have Valerie Naranjo, the percussionist from the Saturday Night Live Band and a master of Ghanaian music.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Read her columns at bellinghamherald.com/behind-the-scenes.

Global Spice World Music Series

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21

Where: Western Washington University’s Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Cost: $10-16, with discounts for students and seniors.

Tickets: 360-650-6146, tickets.wwu.edu.

Details: cfpa.wwu.edu/music.

More on Piccolo: http://www.danpiccolo.com/

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