Welcome to our new blog feature in 2018! Illuminate hopes to shed some light on the key persons involved with United Percussion and provide an in depth look in their words. Our first interview is with Paul Nalesnik, Battery Caption Head and Arranger.

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  • In your second year as Battery Caption head and Arranger at United Percussion, what has changed the most for you from year to year?

After reflecting on the 2017 season, I learned so much about my own approach to teaching and designing. My main goal moving forward was to give the members and staff more ownership of the group throughout the design process of both the show and the warmUP. Everyone has contributed such great ideas that gives the group a distinct style.  There are so many dedicated and talented people within the organization, and utilizing all of their voices to the fullest potential has resulted in greater commitment to what makes us unique to the activity.

  • Can you tell us about the process the battery members use to warm up, and how this sets the tone for the performance?

In this year’s battery warmUP, I tried to maintain a concept of sound while working through each skill set. Each exercise is written in a way to focus primarily on sound and movement, while always referencing the technique and timing to be able to achieve those consistently. The intent behind the composition and order of each exercise allows the performer to develop concepts used in the show music such as phrasing, balance, expression, blend, articulation, etc.  Also some grooves never hurt.

United Percussion goes through their WarmUP sequence at Sunday Rehearsal on 2/25. Video is from the perspective of UQ member Jimmy Toohey.

  • Can you tell us about some of the thought processes you use to create music in general?

For me, creating music means listening to a lot of music. I always use what I hear as the main motivation in developing a moment, along with the considerations of all other aspects of the design. I try to also use my classical and latin percussion knowledge when I can to orchestrate rhythms and sounds in a unique way to marching percussion.

My hope is to write in a way that makes the performers love performing, and that gives the audience and judges the best possible impression of our program.
  • How do you see things evolving in WGI World Class this season and beyond?

Now more than ever, performers are being asked to display the highest level of virtuosity with such excellence. WGI always seems to strive to provide us as designers with a constantly improving platform to display our art form, only to allow the performers to surpass that level of excellence each year. With all of the phenomenal programs last season, I look forward to seeing what other creative opportunities are brought to our activity.

  • Lastly, what would you say to people coming to the East and Mid-East Power Regionals?

I would say that there are very few groups on the East coast that perform on the Independent World Class stage, and United is working harder than ever to be the most memorable group the organization has ever had. All groups competing at both regionals are going to be stellar, and it will turn out to be a very entertaining couple of weekends! COME SUPPORT UNITED PERCUSSION!!! 

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Thanks to Paul for his time and insights! Stay tuned weekly for more guests to come.