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Percussion on the Rock

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Did you know that the birth

of the percussion ensemble

is nearly 100 years old? 


PNW Percussion on the Rock presents

“Crash” - We're Still Here! 

Yep—the drum gods were with us last Summer and let us safely complete our Inaugural year of POTR so we’re back! All the cool stuff from last year with new great additions

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, and Bill Wanser, former principal percussionist with the Phoenix Symphony and vintage drum aficionado,  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. 

Workshop Highlights:

  • Lectures, listening, score study & discussion sessions 

  • Rehearsals of classic percussion ensemble and chamber music literature

  • "In Memoriam" sessions focusing on the life and contributions of Bill Kraft and George Crumb

  • Chamber Music reading & rehearsal sessions with members of Whidbey's Saratoga Orchestra

  • Rainshadow Sessions: grab your favorite cup of PNW Joe and let’s talk music…or beyond! Special “Beyond the Music” discussions re: posture, Alexander technique, rehearsal prep etc—everything to set yourself up for success 

  • D-Pod Drum Circle.  Here in the PNW we love our Whale pods and wanted our own Musical pod so welcome D-Pod.  Led by faculty Brandon Nelson grab your favorite hand drum, or shaker as we collectively bring good vibes to Whidbey Island.  This is a free event for the community to join in around the firepit

  • "Olympic Drums" will host session on Vintage Drums

  • Visiting clinician Bill Wanser's clinic on snare drum phrasing/musicality to include excerpts from Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, Peter and the Wolf, Bolero and Ionisation 


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 and Performance Context

Roldan: Ritmicas

Boas: Changing Tensions

Bill Kraft: Percussion Quartet

George Crumb: Madrigals

Madeira: Minus Nine

Hovhaness: Koke No Niwa

Varese: Ionisation


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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.


Bill Wanser retired from his position as principal percussion with The Phoenix Symphony in 2013.  He began his orchestral studies with Randy Baunton, principal with the Seattle Symphony, and finished his master’s degree in timpani and percussion performance at the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Fred Hinger.  The teaching and performance principles of Mr. Hinger have been a source of inspiration to Bill throughout his career.


In addition to his regular position in Phoenix, Bill was for several years a member of the adjunct faculty at Arizona State University in orchestral percussion and participated as a coach with the Phoenix Symphony Youth Orchestra.  For 14 years he was a member of the faculty of the Marrowstone Music Festival in the Puget Sound area.  Other professional activities have included the Grand Teton and San Salvador International music festivals as well as performances with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet.  Bill is also an artist/clinician for Sabian Cymbals and for Aquarian Accessories, and he has taught private students on a limited basis.

Bill has been an avid collector of vintage percussion instruments for most of his career, consulting with other players and collectors and restoring instruments as warranted for correctness, authenticity and sound quality.  In 2010 he entered into partnership with a friend and former orchestral player, Scott Colner, to form Olympic Drums & Percussion, an online instrument trading business combining Bill’s knowledge of old instruments, array of connections and restoration expertise with Scott’s technological skills and business sense.



Percussion on the Rock 2022 will be headquartered in the historic, seaside town of Coupeville, WA.  Most events will be hosted at Coupeville Methodist Church. 

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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...a limited number of partial scholarships are available.


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

We will start the day 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

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. 

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 are the options for commuting? 

Seattle area commuters can be a walk on passenger from the Mukilteo ferry and may take advantage of Island Transit, the FREE bus system on Whidbey Island operating Monday through Saturday. There is a bus route from the Clinton Ferry that drops off in downtown Coupeville.


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 airlines serves Everett's Paine Field (PAE) with direct service from many major western US cities. Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle also serves PAE. 

  • 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 if you drive on the ferry.  Clinton to Coupeville is approximately 40 minute drive. Carpools can be arranged each day if there is demand. Schedules here -


Ferry - Port Townsend to Coupeville (Keystone)

Participants coming from the Olympic Peninsula can take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville (Keystone). A free bus services to/from the ferry terminal is available as well as pre-arranged carpools.  Island Transit schedule. 

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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