Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

NIU Percussion Ensemble invited to Costa Rica
for first International Percussion Ensemble Festival

May 4, 2009

NIU Percussion Ensemble

Members of the NIU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Robert Chappell and Greg Beyer, have been invited to perform May 28, 29 and 30 at the first International Festival of Percussion Ensembles in San José, Costa Rica.

Ensembles from Poland, Venezuela, Costa Rica and two from the United States were invited. Each ensemble will perform a concert at Teatro Nacional in San José, a joint concert combining all of the ensembles and one run-out concert in various cities throughout Costa Rica.

Chappell, Beyer and NIU graduate student Robert Houpe also will present percussion clinics for Costa Rican percussion students at the Universidad de Distancia in San José. NIU students traveling to Costa Rica include Houpe, William Cooley, Ben Runkel and Maggie Bergren.

The trip is made possible by a Howard Johnston Graduate Travel Grant and by generous donations made to the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

NIU’s connection to Costa Rica began in 2002 when the renowned NIU Steel Band was invited to perform at the Seoul Drum Festival. That year, Korea also was the host to the World Cup and, as part of the festivities, percussion groups from each of the 16 finalists countries were invited to perform at the festival.

At one venue, the NIU Steel Band and the Ensamble de Percusión de Costa Rica shared the stage.

Chappell, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and head of percussion studies, met Bismarck Fernández, timpanist with the Costa Rican National Symphony and head of percussion at the Instituto Nacional de Música. They exchanged cards and CDs and have since engaged in faculty exchanges, presenting master classes and clinics at the other’s university. In 2007, Chappell and Liam Teague, head of steelpan studies at NIU, performed a series of concerts and clinics in Costa Rica as part of the Festival de Flores de Diaspora Africana.

The NIU Percussion Ensemble concert in Costa Rica will feature a wide range of music that reflects the depth and richness of the percussion program at NIU, including historical works, new commissioned compositions and works featuring world percussion traditions from Brazil, India and Central America.

For more information, contact Chappell at