July 7-10, 2021

PNW Percussion on the Rock


(Donations Encouraged!): 

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Full Schedule

Did you know that the birth

of the percussion ensemble

is nearly 100 years old? 


PNW Percussion on the Rock presents

“Crash” - Exploring the Early Years 1930’s-60’s

Join us for a four day workshop/festival focusing on the early years of this iconic genre.  Held on beautiful Whidbey Island (affectionately known as "The Rock")  northwest of Seattle, this one-of-a-kind experience is for percussionists, music educators, 20th century music enthusiasts and those simply eager to learn about “artful noise”.  Uniquely designed as a two-fold experience, participants will explore classic percussion ensemble repertoire through both historical and performance contexts.


Hosted by the percussionists of Whidbey's Saratoga Orchestra and led by special guest faculty, Dr. Kathleen Kastner, noted percussion educator, scholar and historian, this new festival of old music promises to deliver a “whale of a time”. 

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Health and safety are our utmost priority during this time. 

** This event will comply with Washington State safety protocols**

Masks, Social Distancing, Good Hygiene, Proof of Vaccinations, etc. 


Repertoire in Performance

Thomas Siwe: E.V.

Gerald Strang: Percussion Music for Three Players

Johanna Beyer - Percussion Music IV 

John Cage - Child of Tree

Michael Colgrass - Unaccompanied Solos for Snare Drum

Carlos Chávez - Xochipilli

(w/members of Saratoga Orchestra) 

Alan Hovhaness - October Mountain 


Repertoire in Historical Context

“Origins” - Stravinsky, Milhaud, Antheil & Bartok

“West Coast talks on the West Coast” - Cowell, Cage, Harrison & Partch

“America Rising” - Chávez, Colgrass & Hovhaness

Daily Festival Happenings:

  • Lectures, listening, score study & discussion sessions 

  • Rehearsals of classic percussion ensemble and chamber music literature

  • Related Special Topic lectures: Ragtime Xylophone

  • Film and Video Presentations: Antheil & Partch

  • ACT “Afternoon Coffee Talks” panel discussions to include: pathways in music, freelancing, auditioning, & entrepreneurship 

  • FREE Community Drum Circle, July 9 - Blue Sound Music, Langley

  • PPC (Positive Percussion Camaraderie)


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Dr. Kathleen Kastner is professor of music at Wheaton College, (IL), where she teaches percussion, as well as twentieth century music history and world music. As Wheaton's first resident percussion teacher, she founded the Percussion Ensemble in the fall of 1972. She received her doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she studied with Thomas Siwe. Dr. Kastner has been involved in the Percussive Arts Society for many years, having previously served as a member of the Board of Directors, associate editor for research of Percussive Notes, chair of the Scholarly Research Committee, PAS historian, and Illinois State Chapter President. In 2012, she received the Percussive Arts Society Outstanding Service Award. Active as a solo and chamber musician during the first thirty years of her career, her most recent passion is percussion pedagogy, with her book, The Marimba: Teach It!  published in 2012.  Most recently, Dr. Kastner was named the 2017 Alumna of the Year for Distinguished Service to Alma Mater by the Wheaton College Alumni Association Board of Directors.


ERICA MONTGOMERY retired from the United States Air Force Band, Washington DC in 2018 where she served as Principal Timpanist. Prior to joining the USAF Band, she served as Principal Timpanist with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Illinois Symphony.  An active freelance musician she has performed with the Louisville Orchestra, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Monarch Brass, Brass of the Potomac, Evansville Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.

Erica earned a B.M. performance degree from the University of Illinois where she was recipient of the prestigious Edgard Varèse Award and a Master of Music performance degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  Erica is excited to now call Whidbey Island home, the perfect place to play drums, drink coffee, and explore nature.   In her spare time she is always keeping an eye out for the elusive Sasquatch or our local Southern Resident Orcas. 

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BRANDON NELSON is Director of Bands at Oak Harbor High School on Whidbey Island and has built an award-winning program ranging from the marching band to the jazz band to wind ensembles. Brandon has served as principal percussionist for Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island since 2016. He earned his Masters degree in Music Performance from Portland State University and Bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas. A devoted educator, in 2018 Brandon was honored by School Band and Orchestra magazine as Washington's Director Who Makes a Difference.

Having worked as a band director and drumline coach in Oregon, Washington, and Texas, Brandon is passionate about training the next generation of musicians to clap on beats two and four. Outside of the classroom, he can be found performing on drumset, french horn, bassoon, voice, and as a conductor & adjudicator. Additionally, life has gotten even more fulfilling for Brandon and his partner Eva with the birth of their first child.


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Whidbey Island, WA 

Langley by the Sea
Langley by the Sea

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Langley First Street
Langley First Street

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Langley by the Sea
Langley by the Sea

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The Pacific Northwest Conducting Institute is headquartered in Langley, WA at Langley United Methodist Church and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.  

Affectionately known as the "Village by the Sea", Langley is home to exquisite art galleries, one-of a-kind shops, unique outdoor adventures and some really great dining options. Situated on a bluff above the Salish Sea's Saratoga Passage, the views aren't half-bad either! 


Active Participant/Performer - $400​

July 8-11

Auditor aka Casual Observer - $50/day

July 8-10

Auditors may register up to the the day of workshop

Community Drum Circle - FREE!

July 9 - 4pm  Behind Blue Sound Music, Langley

Bring a lawn chair and drum if you have one. Otherwise there will be plenty to use. 



April 15 - Registration Opens

June 1 - Priority Registration / Scholarship Applications Due

June 15 - Balance of Tuition Due minus application fee

July 8-11 - PNW Percussion on the Rock


Who will be coming?

We hope a wide and diverse background of percussion enthusiasts will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. From college/university students and faculty to seasoned pros and rusty amateurs, there will be something for everyone. 

Advanced High School percussion students with a path toward a music degree are also welcome to apply. Under 18 must be accompanied by parent. 

How do you apply? - Go to REGISTRATION Button above. 

Active Participants:

1. Submit a 1 page resume or CV, plus

2. Submit a link to a representative short video performance, either as soloist or in a percussion ensemble setting, plus 

3. A short intention paragraph on why you want to attend, educational experience and what you wish to gain or learn? 


Please submit a short intention paragraph on why you want to attend, what you wish to gain or learn?  Auditors will be allowed to observe all lectures and rehearsal sessions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday's culminating performance is charged separately. 

Do you offer Scholarships?

Yes...we are anticipating having scholarships depending on the enrollment and attendee criteria.

Will I get to play? 

Yes! Final decisions on repertoire and parts will be determined based on attendance numbers. Our goal is  wanting to make this a meaningful and positive experience for you. 


What will I play?

We will be performing classic percussion ensemble repertoire.  Based on your skill level/interest you’ll be assigned parts in various pieces. 

Will there be other performance options or feedback?

Yes, we will be studying & performing pieces from Michael Colgrass’ Unaccompanied Solos for Snare Drum. This is an option for each attendee to perform as a soloist, but is not mandatory.  

What parts will I be assigned?

Once attendance is determined we will send out a questionnaire asking for specific requests re: repertoire, parts and elective opportunities. 


Do I have to play? 

No, auditing is a great way to absorb the experience and gain insight into this crazy genre. 

What should I expect a day at “Crash” to be like? 

We will start @ 10 am with lectures, listening and discussions of classic percussion ensemble repertoire.  After we “geek out” a while listening and learning, we’ll follow-that with rehearsals of corresponding repertoire.  Additionally, we’ll be joined by members of Whidbey's Saratoga Orchestra to make the chamber music experience even more enjoyable.   Morning sessions will be primarily study and afternoon sessions primarily rehearsals and special topic discussions

Is housing included? 

Unfortunately, due to Covid we are unable to offer housing. 

There are a small number of rooms reserved at the Fort Casey Inn that will be an additional fee.  

Several homestay accommodations (AirBnB, VRBO) may be found on Whidbey Island, however during the summer they do book quickly, so act now. 

Any food included? 
Meals will be on your own. The facility does have a kitchen if one wants to bring their lunch. 

Restaurants are plentiful in Langley as well as a grocery store.

What are the options for commuting? 

Seattle area commuters can be a walk on passenger from the Mukilteo ferry and may arrange to be picked up at the Clinton Ferry terminal and carpool to the site each day. NOTE: It is a 10 minute drive from the ferry terminal to Langley.  SCHEDULE HERE

Island Transit is the FREE bus system on Whidbey Island operating Monday through Saturday. There is a bus from the Clinton Ferry that drops off in downtown Langley. We can make arrangements for picking up passengers.

Do I have to drink coffee at ACT? 

Haha—No we will have tea, hot chocolate, water, etc.​


Will you have door prizes? 

Of course! Cool stuff that’s all you need to know! 


Getting Here

Arriving by Air

  • Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport (SEA) is the closest major airport to Whidbey Island with numerous options for most domestic and international routes. Whidbey SeaTac Airport Shuttle provides frequent service from SEA to all points on Whidbey Island. 

  • Alaska and United airlines serve Everett's Paine Field (PAE) with direct service from many major western US cities.

  • Bellingham (BLI) and Vancouver B.C., Canada (YVR) may also be a viable option depending on your departure city. 

Arriving by Car
If you are driving to Whidbey Island from points south, you can take the ferry from the Mukilteo terminal which is 24 miles north of downtown Seattle and just off I-5.

Ferry - Mukilteo to Clinton
The ferry from Mukilteo on the mainland will get you to Clinton on Whidbey Island. The ferry ride is about a twenty minute sailing and ferries leave approximately every 30 minutes. During the summer, the ferry can be quite busy and you may experience an extended wait time.  Drive time from Clinton to Langley is approximately 10 minutes. Carpools can be arranged each day if there is demand. Schedules here -


Ferry - Port Townsend to Coupeville (Keystone)

Drive time from the Coupeville Ferry to Langley is approximately 45 minutes. Schedules here -

Over the Bridge and through the Woods
If you are coming from points north of Whidbey Island, you can cross to the island on Highway 20 via Deception Pass Bridge which connects the north of Whidbey to the mainland. The views are spectacular! 

For tourist information including accommodations on Whidbey Island, visit:

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