Unlikeliest Objects Deliver Rhythm

James Reaney – London Free Press • Published on October 14th, 2011

Don’t try to put the brakes on this percussion duo Saturday in downtown London. The members of Duo Percussion — comprised of UWO Don Wright music faculty grads Brennan Connolly, 25, of Kitchener and Dave Robilliard, 30, of London – have already been busy making their own brakes. Brake drums, that is.

Duo Percussion play a Wolf Performance Hall concert on Saturday night. Robilliard and Connolly will be playing the marimba, vibraphone, drum set, brake drums, opera gongs and more to beat out their message.

“Rhythm is embedded in all of us,” Connolly said Thursday.

So is the chance to get rhythm from unlikely objects. The “brake drums” use actual auto parts to make a percussion instrument.

“You gotta make friends with the repair guy. You can usually snag a couple,” Connolly said of the duo’s tracking down “brake drum” components. “We usually leave them rusty. We don’t buff ’em up.”

After their UWO studies, Exeter South Huron secondary school grad Robilliard and Scarborough-raised Connolly attended Oklahoma City University. These days, Robilliard guides South Huron’s percussion ensemble and has a private studio.

They co-founded Duo Percussion in 2008 and began playing school concerts.

“We started playing education concerts and grew into a full-out, pro chamber ensemble that plays summer festivals and concerts like Saturday’s,” Connolly said by phone after stepping off stage from K-W orchestra concert where he had been performing.

“There’s such a variety of sounds a percussionist can make. The opportunities for different sounds and the pairing of different sounds in pieces are endless,” said Connolly, a former NYOC member.

Support for Saturday’s concert comes in part from a City of London grant administered by the London Arts Council.