When you hear the word “percussion,” the first thing that may come to mind is drums. However, percussion can extend to so many other instruments.

Ulysse Holingue, a fifth-year music education student, is a percussionist. Some of the main percussion instruments he plays include the timpani, marimba, vibraphone and battery percussion.

“On top of that I also play a lot of little toys and auxiliary percussion such as the Mahler hammer, tambourine, triangle, slapstick, hand percussion, whistles, flexitones, vibraslaps, castanets, shakers, wine glasses, whirly tubes and brake drums.”

Ulysse Holingue plays the djembe, a West African drum, during a performance. (Courtesy of Ulysse Holingue)

Brake drums are made from broken down car parts. “I also play completely random things such as throwing glass into a trash can and even hurling chains onto a metal surface.”

Before this wide variety of instruments, Holingue began his interest in music with one specific instrument.

“I started getting into music with just learning to play the piano. I then got into the drum set in middle school,” Holingue said. “When I got to high school there was no need for drums so I was convinced to get into classical percussion.”

Holingue says that when he first came onto the CPP campus, he continued his love for percussion by deciding to study it.

“I wanted to study ethnomusicology,” he said. Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. “I was interested in where music comes from and the research related to it. But I realized that I preferred performing and learning about music and I don’t think I want to teach it.”

Los Angeles has one of the most prestigious philharmonic orchestras in the country. Holingue aspires to be a part of that legacy.

“The dream is to play on the LA Philharmonic. That doesn’t happen to just anyone,” Holingue said. “After graduating I hope to join a smaller orchestra or philharmonic and build my way up. There are different programs I can join, like the Southern California Symphony.”

Holingue performs with Cal Poly Pomona, while working at the farm store in his spare time. One successful event he performed in was the concerto for timpani and percussion ensemble at the Department of Music Winter Music Hour Showcase at the music recital hall on campus in 2017.

“I’m in the orchestra, the wind ensemble and the percussion ensemble here at school. I’m not in any groups outside of school right now because I’m focused on graduating.

“I have also performed with other groups outside of campus. I’ve substituted for other percussionists in different groups, including youth philharmonic groups,” Holingue said.

Dreaming for a career in performing was influenced by specific famous percussionists. Holingue is inspired by a couple different percussionists who excel at what they do.

“Evelyn Glennie Is one percussionist I look up to. She’s deaf but plays percussion. She feels the vibrations through her feet and body.”

Glennie plays multiple instruments despite being deaf, including the marimba, xylophone, timpani, chimes and congas. Another percussionist Holingue looks up to is Cameron Leach from Ohio. “He is a really young percussionist who has been recording music and is on tour in California right now.”

Holingue has a bright future with percussion as he continues to follow the beat of his own drum.

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