UHS Percussion Ensemble to play plum gig at Music Educators conference in Charleston

The beat of acclaim goes on for University High School’s Percussion Ensemble.

“They’re pretty amazing,” UHS Director of Bands Mark Palmer said of the students who make music with drums, snares, cymbals, marimbas and xylophones.

Trash cans and buckets, also.

Its current incarnation is pounding out a marquee performance at 5 p.m. Feb. 29 on the main stage of the West Virginia Music Educators Association gathering in Charleston.

The educators meet through Saturday in two venues in the state’s capital city: The Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center and the Clay Center.

Call it a percussive homecoming for University High.

For the third time since 2020, the ensemble under the direction of Corey Orban has appeared as an honor ensemble at the gathering.

Every workday is a homecoming for Orban.

He’s a 2008 UHS graduate who was active in the Hawks Marching Band, plus its symphony orchestra and other sonic endeavors.

After earning degrees in music and music education from WVU and Fairmont State University, Orban came back to his high school alma mater to become assistant director of bands.

He also directs the UHS Concert Band – and under his baton, the band has been awarded superior ratings at the West Virginia Region X Band Festival, along with Honor Ensemble recognition by the state Music Educators Association in 2020 and 2023.

In the meantime, Orban arranges all the music for the percussion ensemble, with a repertoire taking in everything from classical to Caribbean and Memphis to Motown.

He’s overseen the assemblage since 2012.

“Corey’s got a talented bunch of kids this year,” Palmer said.

“Talent,” he added, is the watchword for UHS music programs showcased at the West Virginia Music Educators Association.

Dating back the 2012-13 academic year, the high school on Bakers Ridge has produced 14 honor bands for the gathering, including the Percussion Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra and Jazz Combo.