From October 10 through the 20th, Rela Percussion will be in residency at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion, showcasing a host of glass percussion instruments— marimbas, drums, gongs, hand drums, bowls, and chimes— which they’ll be working on during their time at the museum.
The group formed back in 2011 when founding members and high school classmates Drew Parent and Patrick Fitzgibbon both wound up living in metro Detroit after college. “We started out originally as a jazz/fusion group that included a steel pan, vibraphone, marimba, bass guitar, and drum set”, says Parent. “We played tunes written by Patrick as well as other standards.”
Taking influence from many different cultures and styles, the two decided to focus entirely on making percussive music, recording their first album in 2013. According to Parent, “We soon realized we needed to add two more members to the group to perform live, so in 2015 we asked Mike List and Thom Monks to join us.”
On Friday, October 20, the residency will conclude with a lecture on the glass instruments made during their time at the Glass Pavilion. “We will perform some music and tie in a brief history of percussion and its future. We’ll also be talking about the building process.”
Rela will not only create new instruments, but as Parent explains: “from this will also come new music written for these instruments.” While each instrument has it’s own unique sound, “when combined they create an even more exciting and different texture of music.”
Taking influence from around the world, the pieces will be fusions of instruments from such places as Trinidad, Mexico, Africa and India. The group has a strong appreciation for music as a universal concept, as Parent says, “No matter where you’re from, we can all communicate through music.”
All four members of Rela, gigging musicians, also teach at private studios and schools. They’re currently working on material for a recording project, but “due to our individual schedules it has been hard.”
Last year, they performed in Toledo at Church 321 in Sylvania as a send off to the 21CM Emerging Artist Competition at DePauw University. This will be their first performance at the Glass Pavilion, and Parent says, “We’re definitely excited to come back to Toledo and perform at such an original venue as the Glass Pavilion.”
See Rela Percussion work through Friday, October 20, when they will offer a 7pm lecture.