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Artist Spotlight: Casey Cangelosi


Casey Cangelosi

Michelle Frech recently joined Classical 90.5 as an intern. She is a student of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville studying Music Business. Over the next few months Michelle will be writing for our website, focusing on some of her interests which include percussion music.

Award-winning percussionist Casey Cangelosi is an outstanding performer, composer, and educator. He is a truly versatile percussionist. He writes for everything from marimba to multiple percussion and performs his works with ease. Cangelosi has a few nicknames in the percussion world such as "The Paganini of Percussion." The Classical Marimba League calls him "a marimbist of magisterial power and insight." He has performed in festivals all over the world and has been a guest at over 30 schools. Percussionists around the world, including myself, look up to Cangelosi as an inpiration. His solid technique and flawless exhibition is something all musicians aspire to attain.

My main love and focus in percussion is marimba. I have trouble with my snare drum technique and it takes me longer to work through more rhythmic pieces with non-pitched percussive instruments. A snare drum exercise that would take my fellow colleague an hour to learn and perfect would have me in the practice room for about 3 hours, if not more. This fact made me stubborn when it came to listening to rhythmic pieces for non-pitched percussion. "Wicca" by Cangelosi was the piece that changed all of that. When I first heard "Wicca" it was as if this block in my brain that kept me from enjoying a world of non-pitched percussion instantly vanished. I fell in love with the piece and could not stop listening to it. Then I dived into Cangelosi's other works.

"Walking Left Handed" was another piece that caught my attention. This is another multiple percussion piece, but this one is played along with a recording. The recording is inspired by an interview with a woman who describes her effects of being on LSD. The piece requires both pitched percussion and non-pitched percussion. The performer plays in the dark with three candles lit and wears a head lamp. Blowing out the candles and turning the head lamp on and off is a part of the piece! This YouTube video is only part one, so be sure to continue to parts 3 and 4.

"Prelude in F Minor" is one of five preludes Cangelosi has written for solo marimba. His top right mallet sings the melody as his bottom three mallets accompany. He composed this specific prelude for his sister Amy. It is one of his many brilliant marimba pieces. Cangelosi is probably most well-known for his quick "White Knuckle Stroll" which is quite a challenging work. This prelude is still challenging, but it is much more lyrical and expressive.

You can hear Casey Cangelosi at the Kentucky Day of Percussion taking place at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts hosted by the Kentucky Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society on Saturday, February 28th from 10:00am - 6:00pm. Registration begins at 9:00am. Learn more at kydrum.com.