Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Ensemble Will Debut Local Percussionist's Music

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Ensemble Will Debut Local Percussionist's Music

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Faulkner, Shorelines correspondent

Percussionist Bob Zopp's love affair with drums has come full circle.

One of the 35-year-old Atlantic Beach resident's first on-stage experiences with drums came during a performance of Prokofiev's children's classic, Peter and the Wolf. From there, he's played big band jazz, country with Sherwin Linton, and even survived the gigs and mascara expenses with some cosmetically conscious hair-metal rock bands during the '80s.

After off-and-on years on the road, Zopp moved to the Beaches to be near the ocean, to enjoy Florida's warmer temperatures and to be closer to his parents, who live in Ocala. He's working a day job and composing classical pieces for percussion. He still plays in pop music bands, and currently mans the kit in Boogaloo Bob & The Rigamarole.

Tuesday night, he'll have a different kind of performance. The University of North Florida Percussion Ensemble will debut one of Zopp's pieces, Celebration of the Ants. Zopp said he feels incredibly grateful to percussion ensemble director Charlotte Mabrey for selecting the piece.

"Performance of new music, if you're a composer, is something you have to deal with," Zopp said. "There's a lot of tradition in this field, which is good, but there also needs to be new music performed."

Zopp said after he settled into his new home, he began contacting local universities to find out who has a good percussion program. He's communicated with Mabrey via phone and e-mail and sent her four pieces for consideration.

"She was very responsive to my submission and very encouraging in the performance of new music for her ensemble," Zopp said. "I am greatly appreciative of her support."

Mabrey said she's been trying to locate more local music to perform. She and the ensemble have already performed pieces by Avondale resident Tony Steve in the past, and will do so again at the Tuesday performance. She complimented the combination of instruments in Zopp's work as well as its sense of innocence.

"It sounds just like the title, Celebration of the Ants," Mabrey said. "It's very pure, almost childlike, but in a good way. He was trying to write in that tone."

Celebration developed as Zopp witnessed a formation of ants marching along the sidewalk in a park. He said his piece tells a short musical story about a group of ants who decide to raid a picnic.

"If you think of it as animated, it really helps," Zopp said. "You can get this mental picture of this group of ants, all with their own little agendas and drawing up plans about how they're going to go about doing this. The song is short, it's four minutes. It's broken up into three sections. . . . In this story, the ants are the good guys. That's the thing to remember."

Zopp said like many composers before him, he's found inspiration in nature. …

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