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Ohio State faculty member gains international recognition for inspirational percussion

The spotlight is shining on Ohio State — on its percussion division, at least.

Susan Powell, a percussion faculty member in the OSU School of Music, is bringing OSU into the international percussion spotlight to showcase her arrangements for the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The convention will be held Nov. 9 to Nov. 12 in Indianapolis.

Powell is holding a preview recital to showcase her performance at OSU Monday in Weigel Auditorium at 8 p.m.

The PASIC was established in 1961 and is considered the world’s largest percussion organization, networking percussionists and showcasing the world’s many talents. It has 50 U.S. chapters and 28 international chapters, according to its website.

To be selected to perform at the conference requires applicants to undergo a very competitive application process. After submitting her application last December and being accepted, Powell credits her success to her unique musical combinations from xylophones with sounds from everyday objects, such as flower pots.

“I believe I stood out because I’m doing something different with the sounds from the instruments,” Powell said. “I’m bringing the xylophone from the back rows of the orchestra to feature the sounds at center stage.”

Powell says she grew up loving the different rhythms and sounds that objects made, especially from the piano and tap dancing.

She transposed the sounds to the xylophone and believes she took the chance to “be the champion of something different,” Powell said.

The recital at OSU will showcase Powell’s program for the PASIC with compositions and assistance from fellow percussion members.

The Shiraz Trio, which will perform at the showcase, consists of Powell, Joseph Krygier, OSU percussion faculty member, and Scott Herring of the University of South Carolina.

Herring said he met Powell while they were doctorate students at Northwestern University. He says he is looking forward to traveling to OSU to share the stage with a talented percussionist.

“My main reason is to support Susan Powell,”  he said in an email. “She’s one of the virtuoso percussionists of our generation. Sharing the stage with her is always an honor.”

For one of Powell’s students, Juan Mendoza,  a second-year doctoral student in musical arts, Powell is an inspiration for him and her percussion students.

“It’s normal for her to think outside the box for creating her inspiring, music-making compositions,” Mendoza said. “Her amazing talent is what got me to attend OSU because I wanted to be her student. To this day, she continues to inspire me to reach the spotlight.”

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