By Emily Salvatori, Editor
Mitchell Greco arrived at West Liberty University in the fall, bringing with him knowledge of world music. Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Greco did his schooling in Buffalo, N.Y., Cleveland, Ohio and Western, N.C. before coming to West Virginia five years ago.
Recently, he was named director of percussion and world music at WLU, and soon he will direct the drum line when the marching band returns this fall.
Greco has felt a connection with music, even since he was young. “I think I’ve always felt drawn in music. As the youngest child in my family, my infatuation with the grunge music scene grew a bit early— I saved my pennies and bought my first album at age ten: Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.’ I played piano, trumpet and euphonium throughout middle and high school, and even though I loved the sound of those instruments, playing them never really resonated with me,” said Greco. “I was always listening and admiring the percussion section. Being introduced to the great jazz drummers was the final straw to learn drums and percussion at age sixteen. I never looked back!”
Greco knew he wanted to help others achieve goals and help others, so he believes teaching was a given. “My experience in various instruments seemed to lead naturally to becoming a high school band director, but that plan deviated slightly once I discovered how artistic the craft of hitting things musically (percussion) can be,” he said. “I first thought percussion was just cool, but now I know it to be musical, creative, fun, therapeutic, energetic, and intelligent as well.”
He is particularly interested in world music. Greco said, “I think my organic personality set me up for world music study— I’m simply interested in learning new things! My study with Ghanaian master xylophonist-drummer, Bernard Woma, while attending college had a direct impact on me, so much that I decided to study abroad in Ghana as an upperclassmen. While in Ghana, I discovered that not only is the music is great, but the dancing, costumes, food and other aspects of their culture were just as beautiful. I highly recommend that students make their dream of studying abroad a reality!”
Greco currently directs the WLU Steel Band and the Percussion Ensemble, as well as teaches “Music in World Cultures,” which is a general studies or honors credit class that examines various music cultures from around the world. He also teaches music education majors about the fundamentals of percussion to prepare them for careers as band directors or general music teachers.
“I also hope to make African Drum and Dance its own separate course in the near future – currently majors and non-majors have to sign up for MUS 263 Percussion Ensemble in order to partake in that ensemble,” said Greco.
In the fall when the marching band returns, Greco will be directing the drum line. He said, “The resurgence of the marching band is big news for the university, music department, and football team! I am excited to have the venue to showcase the great work that our students do on a daily basis. Between the resurgence of the Steel Drum Band last spring and now the Marching Hilltoppers, I feel very grateful that our administration believes in the value of music and the integration of music majors and non-music majors in these ensembles. Music is the greatest of communal activities— our community will be stronger with the marching band back!”
Greco would like to have a culture of both music and non-music majors taking part in the music department at West Liberty, and the university offers many different ensembles for students to take part in, both instrumental and choral.
Some ensembles require audition, but anyone interested is encouraged to reach out to music faculty. If one is unsure of who to contact, feel free to contact Greco, and he will put you into contact with the faculty member in charge.
If you don’t want to become part of an ensemble, that does not mean you cannot appreciate them. They have concerts coming up that anyone is welcome to attend. There is a World Music Concert April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in College Hall. The Electronic Music Ensemble will hold a concert on May 1 at 7 p.m. either in College Hall or outside between College Hall and the Media Arts Center, depending on the weather.
Off campus concerts include the College Community Chorus performing at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church on May 5 at 3 p.m.
For the full list of upcoming events, the events calendar can be accessed here.
Photo Credit: Emily Salvatori