November 18, 2021

Kyle Ritenauer (BM ’11, MM ’15), new Director of the MSM Percussion Ensemble, previews its upcoming concert on Sun NOV 21

The MSM Percussion Ensemble is performing in Neidorff-Karpati Hall on Sunday, NOV 21 at 7:30 PM in a concert open to the public, and the first in the Hall for the group more than two years! It’s also the first  Percussion Ensemble concert conducted by MSM alumnus Kyle Ritenauer (BM ’11, MM ’15) in his new role as its director.

Tell us about the Percussion Ensemble concert on Sunday 11/21? Do you have a favorite piece and why?

This Sunday’s concert contains some wonderful music from throughout the history of percussion ensemble, which is a short history that began in the 20th century. The concert includes music by John Cage and Lou Harrison, who were responsible for establishing some of the first truly important music for percussion ensemble, to brand new works by Andy Akiho and the winner of our student composer competition, Nicolas Farmer.

As a conductor, I am very much looking forward to Charles Wuorinen’s Ringing Changes which is a monumental work written for 10 percussionists and 2 pianists. But as an MSM alum and someone who is very dedicated to the development of music, I am thrilled to present Andy Akiho’s Pillar IV. Andy and I actually went to MSM together. He was a first-year grad student in the Contemporary Performance Program (CPP) and I was a freshman percussionist. One of my first concerts at MSM was performing the first piece he had ever composed. Andy has gone on to become one of the most in demand composers of our time and continues to contribute to the lineage of great percussion music.

What are your plans for the Percussion Ensemble this year?

As this is my first year as director of the percussion ensemble, my biggest priority is to carry on the culture and tradition that has been present in this ensemble since its inception. This ensemble, under the direction of Price, Heldrich, Milarsky, Traxler/Perdue, has always maintained an extremely high standard and expectation for the students and has produced some of the highest quality performances at MSM for decades. In addition to that, we are at the forefront of developing the genre of percussion ensemble though commissioning established composers and providing opportunities for the student composers at MSM.

This season the percussion ensemble will begin a long-term recording project in order to reach our community outside the walls of MSM. I am a firm believer that this is one of the best ensembles in the contemporary music world, and the work of these amazing students and composers needs more exposure!

A video celebrating 60 years of the MSM Percussion Ensemble

As an alumnus of the Percussion program, how does it feel to be conducting and directing the ensemble?

It is pretty surreal to be back with the MSM Percussion Ensemble. This ensemble really shaped me in many ways as a musician and was a place where I developed the urge to conduct. Jeff Milarsky was its director when I was a student here. He is one of the best conductors in our industry and I have no idea where I’d be without the experience working under him every week. Having conducted mainly orchestras over the past decade in dozens of places, Bossi-Comelli Studio and the Percussion Department at MSM truly feels like home.

What do you love most about MSM and the Percussion program?

I love the dedication of the students. Every student in this program strives to be better every day and they rise to every challenge you put in front of them. It’s a truly special group of people and I learn from them every time I interact with them. This is all led by one of the best teaching faculty in the percussion world. Chris Lamb, She-e Wu, Duncan Patton, and Kyle Zerna work closely together and care deeply about the individual development of each student. They make this department one of best places in the world to develop as a musician.

Any advice for someone applying to MSM for percussion or conducting?

Attitude is everything. Just attack every day and every challenge with a positive attitude and work as hard as is manageable for you. For me, I knew what I wanted as a musician, and I received my fair share of rejection letters before finally achieving certain goals. Don’t let those rejections distract you from your goals. Keep at it!

“The MSM Percussion Ensemble has always maintained an extremely high standard and expectation for the students, and has produced some of the highest quality performances at MSM for decades.”

Director of the MSM Percussion Ensemble

MSM Percussion Ensemble in 2019

NOV 21 | SUN
7:30 PM

MSM Percussion Ensemble

Kyle Ritenauer (BM 11, MM ’15), Conductor

Open to the public.

Presentation of proof of vaccination and i.d. is required. Masks must be worn at all times inside the MSM building.