Solo percussion blurs the line between electronic and acoustic sounds.

In this presentation of solo works, Michael Skillern aims to draw the listener’s ear with an eclectic mix of acoustic, percussion + fixed media, and works that fuse percussion with live electronics. He paints an immersive soundscape of varied sonic experiences all made with ‘2 hands.’ The ‘shell’ in the title pays homage to Skillern’s vintage 1970s Ludwig snare drum, straight from the United States of America. Away from the drum set, a snare drum has a rainbow of sonic capabilities that often leaves listeners wondering and questioning what they just heard. How can a drum make such a sound? In a space where sight doesn’t match the sound, new sonic possibilities are brought to life.

In Novotney’s Minute of News, Skillern will blend hand drumming, brush strokes, timpani mallets, and driving contemporary rhythms to turn the snare drum into a live-action drum machine. Next comes Bourdeaux’s A Song Over Time. This work blends several contemporary drumming techniques, and singing, with a deep synth lead electronic percussion fixed media track. The two sonic worlds, real and digital, are intertwined into a deeply emotional sonic journey. Next comes Pickering’s Non-Prophets, a critique of the American televangelist culture. The composer takes sampled speech patterns from infamous TV preachers and fuses them with forward moving digital sounds using drums and modified organs. All of this, on top of quick, technical snare drum licks show the sonic possibilities of the snare drum enhanced with the addition of electronics.

The program for the evening:

  1. Minute of News, Eugene Novotney – Snare Drum *AD Premiere
  2. Non-Prophets, Caleb Pickering – Snare Drum + Electronics *AD Premiere
  3. A Song Over Time, Joey Bordeaux – Snare Drum + Electronics *AD Premiere
  4. Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1, Bach – Marimba
  5. Movements in Movement and Sound, Anthony Green – Synthesized Vibraphone *AD Premiere
  6. Electric Screwdriver, Chace Williams – Vibraphone + Electronics *AD Premier
  7. Mechanics to Wit, Michael Standard – Vibraphone + Electronics *AD Premier
  8. I Dream a Universe, Brett Copeland – Synthesized Vibraphone + Electronics **World Premiere
  9. Argoru VII, Alvin Singleton – Synthesized Vibraphone *AD Premiere
  10. Stadiums, Steph Davis – Vibraphone *AD Premiere
  11. Secondhand, Caleb Pickering – Vibraphone + Electronics *AD Premiere

Listen to the music:


Michael Skillern

Michael Skillern is currently the Head of Music at American Gulf School in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Percussionist / Timpanist with the National Symphony Orchestra UAE, and Co-Founder of the CommonTime Online arts learning platform. An international award winning percussionist, Michael has performed as a soloist, chamber player, and orchestra member throughout the United States, China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Michael made his concerto debut in 2016 performing the solo percussion part on Ittai Sharipa’s The Ethics, with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. In 2022, he made his Middle Eastern debut in Dubai and premiered several works for solo percussion. Michael has won numerous international Music competitions including percussion prizes in Switzerland (North Int’l Music Competition, 2019) and Indonesia (Indonesia Brass and Percussion Competition). Away from music, Michael enjoys spending time with his 2 year old daughter Millie, named after his dear grandmother Mildred Skillern. He can be heard in solo and percussion ensemble settings on Innova and Ravello Records. Michael proudly endorses Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets.