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USC Percussion Ensemble wins international competition


Winning the 2024 Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition is a remarkable achievement for the University of South Carolina Percussion Ensemble, marking their place as one of the top three college winners. This prestigious award is a testament to their dedication and musical excellence.

On Monday, June 17, Percussive Arts Society International Percussion (PAS) announced the University of South Carolina Percussion Ensemble is one of three collegiate winners of the 2024 Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition (IPEC). The award is the pinnacle achievement for the percussion ensemble art form. The purpose of the Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition is to encourage, promote and reward musical excellence among college/university percussion ensembles.

With this remarkable triumph, the University of South Carolina has earned a place among the most prestigious colleges and universities, having achieved this feat more than three times. This illustrious group includes renowned institutions such as Texas Christian University, Northwestern, Florida State University, Eastman, and the University of Kentucky. The University of South Carolina’s consistent triumph in the competition is a clear testament to its unwavering dedication to musical excellence. 

As winners of the competition, the University of South Carolina Percussion Ensemble, led by USC percussion directors Scott Herring and Bailey Seabury, will perform a 50-minute Showcase Performance on November 14, 2024, in Indianapolis, IN, at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). PASIC is one of the world’s largest drum and percussion events.


Help the USC Percussion Ensemble get to Indianapolis to perform at PASIC! Click here, then select Percussion Fund A31810

Herring, associate professor of percussion, says the accomplishment is comparable to winning an NCAA sports title.

“With the School of Music celebrating its centennial year starting in Fall 2024, we were really hoping for this victory,” Herring said.

Competition winners must wait three years to reapply for IPEC. With their last win in 2021, winning the competition the first year they are allowed to compete is even sweeter for the USC Percussion Ensemble. It also means that several of the twenty members of the ensemble who are heading to Indianapolis, including Ian Mahaffey, Julia Ross, Marshall Robinson, and Yuesen Yang, have previously represented USC on the PASIC stage.

“Winning the International Percussion Ensemble Competition is an extraordinary achievement for our school. One of the highest honors available in the percussion community, this award reflects the dedication, skill, and passion the program has committed to,” says Mahaffey, a DMA candidate and percussion graduate assistant. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform again on the national stage, showcasing the great music-making at USC.” 

Winning the International Percussion Ensemble Competition is an extraordinary achievement for our school. One of the highest honors available in the percussion community, this award reflects the dedication, skill, and passion the program has committed to. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform again on the national stage, showcasing the great music-making at USC.

– Ian Mahaffey (MM), USC Percussion Ensemble member

Doctoral candidate Julia Ross agrees. “I feel fortunate to have experienced this privilege twice before, and I am pleased to be able to do so once more during my final year at USC. This recognition is a testament not only to our studio’s work ethic, but to Dr. Herring and Dr. Seabury’s support of our continued growth as both musicians and people.”

All applicants had to submit a recording of a live performance in "one take" without any edits or use of technology to alter the recording to ensure the integrity and fairness of the competition. A panel of four judges reviewed the submissions.

Herring says he carefully considered which selections from the ensemble’s 2023-24 concerts would most likely capture the judges’ attention.

“I must admit, I made the ensemble practice extra hard on those pieces!” says Herring.

Undergraduates Marshall Robinson and Ellakyn Brinkley are pleased to be among the elite percussionists performing at PASIC. Robinson was an incoming freshman in 2021 and is excited to kick off his senior year with this performance.

“This performance opportunity allows us to showcase all of our hard work, as well as represent our University on the national level,” says Robinson. “It is an opportunity we do not take for granted.”

“As someone who has looked up to the USC Percussion Ensemble for a long time, it means so much to me to be a part of this accomplishment,” says Brinkley. “I am so excited to show the country all the greatness happening here at USC and look forward to attending PASIC!” 

At PASIC, ensemble members will experience three days of concerts, clinics, panels, and presentations by the finest artists worldwide. The convention showcases all areas of percussion — drum set, marching, keyboard, symphonic, world, recreational, education, music technology and new music along with health and wellness events. 

Support the USC Percussion Ensemble

Winning the 2024 Percussive Arts Society Internationa Percussion Ensemble Competition is tremendous — and the USC Percussion Ensemble needs your help to travel to Indianapolis to perform at PASIC. Please make this dream possible by giving to the USC Percussion Fund. Direct your gift to USC Percussion Fund ( a31810 ).

To learn more about the USC School of Music percussion program, click here.


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