FAC presents Ensemble Roar : Concerto, rock offers new musical experience

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Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Goff, associate professor of music, said Drannon, Nicholas and Piazza often present music that blurs the lines between several genres

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

More than 120 faculty and students of Francis Marion University (FMU) gathered into the
Adele Kassab Recital Hall on Thursday, Oct. 17 to witness the Artist Series presentation of
Ensemble Roar.
Ensemble Roar consists of members Andrew Drannon, Riley Nichols and Alex Piazza. The
modern music group specializes in the works of living composers, including works that they
have composed themselves.  Dr. Brandon Goff, associate professor of music, hosted the event
and served as a guest electric guitarist for Ensemble Roar. Goff said the group often presents
music that blurs the lines between several genres.
Lorie Dukes, a freshman mass communication major, said the compositions all had a unique
sound. “It is not what I was expecting at all; it’s unlike anything I have ever heard before,” Dukes
said.  “I thought I was going to one of those concerts where they play old classical music, and I
definitely have never heard French rapping.”
The rapping of which Dukes spoke of is from “Saveuz Moi,” a song composed by Goff that
featured music major Jasmine Reid as a vocalist.  Goff said he wrote the song during his stint in
France at a time when a new French president had been elected.  Goff added that he was excited
by how the French reacted to politics in a way that much resembles the reactions of those from
the U.S.“All of the text in ‘Saveuz Moi’ is actually from famous political quotes, so if you translated
it into English, it would sound a little weird,” Goff said.
Drannon, who plays piano and keyboards for Ensemble Roar, said he knew Goff from when
he was a professor at the University of Memphis.  Drannon said he and Goff had always wanted
to put together an ensemble that is half concerto and half rock band.  It all became a matter of
finding instruments that would be a good fit.  Drannon said he knew that Piazza was versatile
and found that Nicholson had been writing his own music for a long time.  What was produced,
Drannon said, was an analog-electro version of a rock band. “It is still kind of a fledgling thing; we are still just kind of experimenting with stuff,”
Drannon said.
The members of Ensemble Roar all come from musical families.  Nicholson said his entire
family is involved in music in some way.  Nicholson started playing piano as a kid and would
spend hours playing it.  He explained that he decided around the sixth grade to play percussion,
but he still writes on the piano when he composes.
Piazza said his father plays piano as a church musician. Piazza plays the trombone and bass
across several genres, including jazz, classical, rock, funk and blues.
As for Drannon, his mother played piano and his father played guitar.  Drannon said he
started playing piano when he was 7-years-old at the urging of his parents and went through a
period where he did not like the piano.
“I would be like ‘I hate this, I’m not getting any better,’ but my parents pushed me through
it,” Drannon said.  “I eventually discovered how music portrays different emotions, and I wanted
to learn how to communicate that.”
Goff said he was glad that people enjoyed the experience that Ensemble Roar provided.  He
said he was impressed by the performances of the three and the vocals provided by Reid were
awesome.  Goff said that those who enjoyed it are all welcome to come to the concert being
performed by the FMU Music Industry Ensemble on Nov. 21.