Graceland students might recognize Gage Bradley from performances like Jazz on the Green, Percussion Ensemble concerts, Symphonic Band concerts, and last year’s Concerto Competition where he performed in front of the orchestra. If there is a concert in the Shaw Center, there is a pretty good chance Gage will be there, performing something extraordinary.
Gage started his musical career by playing the drum set in seventh grade. Once he started taking lessons he developed a knack for percussion, and he was in ensembles like marching band, jazz band, and concert band during high school. He began to truly get focused on his percussion studies during junior and senior year because of his time in marching and jazz band, and decided to come to Graceland to further his skills.
Percussion studies became his primary concern, because he wanted to be skilled at a variety of instruments and challenge himself in the process. Even though he started on just the drum set, he quickly began playing a more diverse array of instruments. At Graceland, Gage mainly plays marimba and multi (mixed percussion instruments), and enjoys playing contemporary music and classical adaptations for percussion.
Gage is currently an essential member of the Graceland Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Symphonic Band, but he likes jazz drumming the most. Gage loves to play small chamber music, sometimes in the form of percussion quartets. He enjoys playing pieces that involve minimalism, which is a genre that is rhythmically focused and slowly progresses to notable changes in the music. This is a style that many Graceland students may have witnessed if they attended the SO Percussion concert last semester in the Shaw Center.
Gage is working on a bunch of different music this semester for both solo and ensemble performance. He is super excited about a piece for multi percussion called “Canned Heat” by Eckherd Kopetzki. This is a piece where he plays several different instruments including an assortment of drums and an actual tin can. The piece features a difficult syncopated rhythm paired with an underlying “toe tapping” beat that makes the piece enjoyable for Gage and the audience. Gage stressed how important it is to enjoy the music he performs because it makes it easier for him to be impassioned. This way, it isn’t as difficult to be excited about putting hard work into his practice to make the piece more interesting and vivid. An ensemble piece that he is excited about playing this semester is a piece for Percussion Ensemble called “Coin,” which features Dr. Adam Groh playing an intense and upbeat multi percussion solo, accompanied by the rest of the ensemble playing simple melodic progressions. This piece represents two sides to a coin, as the performer and accompaniment are playing in two opposite but complimentary styles.
In his free time, Gage listens to a variety of music including Indie music, 20’s, 30’s, Swing, and 80’s. Gage enjoys going for runs around Lamoni. He nearly ran for the Graceland Track team because he ran track in High School, but couldn’t find the time since he was involved in so many other activities. Impressively, Gage likes to compose music for fun and hopes to pursue his Master’s with a focus in composition. Be sure to come support Gage and all of the brilliant students in the Graceland Music Department this semester as they bring Graceland the rare chance to see beautiful live music!