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Renowned drummer returning to UNT, will play with lab band
Andrew Freeman / Staff Writer
Peter Erskine, composer, two-time Grammy winning drummer, and professor at USC’s Thornton School of Music, will play in a concert Thursday night at 8 p.m. at the Winspear Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center with UNT’s One O’Clock Lab Band.
He will also be on campus all week, giving seminars and master classes to students of the jazz department.
“The One O’Clock Lab band is world-class, along with the professors,” Erskine said. “The sound of everyone playing music seems like a great way to spend a Thursday night.”
The first half of the concert will be Erskine performing with the jazz faculty, and the second half of the concert will be with the One O’Clock Lab Band, and will feature some tributes and new arrangements Erskine brought with him.
“He’s a very distinguished drummer in the jazz world,” said John Murphy, department chair of Jazz Studies. “It’s special that someone so accomplished is able to spend a week here so our students can interact with him.”
Between today and tomorrow, he will give three master classes, hold two question and answer sessions, and give a lecture as part of the Lecture Series.
“He is a living legend,” said Rasmus Blixt, international language exchange junior and jazz drummer. “I plan on going to see him, and hope to learn about improvisation.”
Musical improvisation is something that Erskine will cover while at UNT.
“Jazz musicians, we improvise. I tell my students to play what they would like to hear next,” Erskine said. “Some of the biggest names in pop and rock come to me at some point for instruction, and it’s because they know jazz can open up the doors to so many opportunities.”
Erskine has been to UNT six times in the past. His last visit was in 2006, but he has also been here for a lecture series in 1985 and in the late ‘90s.
For Erskine, who has been playing drums since he was four, coming to UNT is quite a bit like coming home.
“North Texas is identified with the beginnings of jazz education,” Erskine said. “Because North Texas is so important, it makes it an incredible magnet that attracts the best musicians from around the country. I have great respect for everyone here.”
The students and faculty also have a great respect from Erskine and hope to learn from him.
“It’s a terrific opportunity for our students to interact with someone on top of the profession,” Murphy said. “They will be able to use his insight for their own personal development.”