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Percussion on tap at Hancock concert

  • Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.

    Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.

  • Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.

    Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.

  • Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.
  • Percussionist Robert Schulz will lead the BeatCity Art Ensemble in a concert at the Hancock Meeting House on Sunday.

The town’s Meeting House will be rocking Sunday, when Grammy-nominated percussionist Robert Schulz leads his BeatCity Art Ensemble in a program featuring what Music on Norway Pond Artistic Director Jody Hill Simpson describes as “an avalanche of drums.”

BeatCity is a Boston-based trio that plays both classical and not-so-classical music. Schulz says the group is “as entertaining to watch as it is to hear.” He will play drums, marimbas, washboards, bongos ­— even a set of tuned phone books on a piece called “Improvisation and Canon for Three Two-Tone Telephone Books,” by Ward Durrett.

“There’s definitely a lot of percussion in this program,” Schulz said in a phone interview Tuesday. “By the nature of percussion, the music sort of has an exotic flavor. I’m guessing it will be new material for the Hancock audience.”

Schulz said the program will feature “a lot of show and tell,” as he will be talking about the unfamiliar pieces and will describe the instruments he’ll be playing.

“It’s always fun for the audience to learn more about the music, and they’ll get to know the players as well,” he said.

Although “Prelude, Allegro, and Pastorale,” a 1941 composition by Rebecca Clark, is a very traditional sounding piece for clarinet, viola and percussion, Schulz said the rest of the program is a bit more contemporary, “hopefully, with a lot of visual interest.”

Other compositions in the program include “Naturale,” a 1985 piece by Luciano Berio based on Sicilian melodies; “Emergence” by Stefan Hakenberg; and “Black Crow Viola Concerto” a new piece by the Korean composer Seung-Ah Oh.

Schulz’s percussion talents span a range of musical styles and ensembles. He serves as principal percussionist for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble and Opera Boston Orchestra. He has worked with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Ballet Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston and the Boston Chamber Music Society. In 2010, he recorded “Kick and Ride,” a concerto for drumset and orchestra written for him by Eric Moe.

Schulz’s BeatCity groups have performed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Lincoln Center in New York City, for Family Music in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival in Rockport, Mass.

For Sunday’s performance, the other members of the trio are violist Noriko Futagami, a Boston resident who is principal violist for the Albany Symphony and assistant principal violist for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and clarinetist William Kirkley, who has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony and the Santa Fe Opera.

Schulz said BeatCity is a constantly changing group, as he puts together different ensembles of musicians when he gets opportunities to perform.

“As a freelance musician, you have a lot of balls in the air,” he said. “In the case of the National Gallery of Art, for example, I got a call from their curator because they’d learned I knew something about the music of John Cage. They needed a performance to go with a show they were planning. Every now and then, these things drop out of the sky.”

The Hancock performance came about in somewhat the same way, he said, after he got a call from Simpson, whom he’d worked with years before.

“I met Bob about 25 years ago in Boston, when we were both just out of grad school,” Simpson said last week. “He played for the children’s chorus I directed. He’s quite wonderful, the best freelance percussionist in the city. He’s the consummate artist, incredibly self-effacing, but brilliant.”

Simpson said the show will be “refreshing, stimulating, amusing and provocative” and should be very accessible to a diverse audience, including children.

“That’s good for [Music on Norway Pond] audiences,” Simpson said. “We don’t tolerate things that are too weird. We want to be entertained and challenged, but not put off. This will be perfect for a cold, drab time of winter.”

The one-hour concert will be a 4 p.m. At the Hancock Meeting House. Tickets are $10 ($5 for children), available at the door.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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