Boyer College releases 14-track percussion album

Marc Mellits’ album “No Strings Attached,” provides opportunities for Boyer students, faculty.

Lucas Conant, a graduate student in the Master of Music in Percussion Performance program, warms up on the vibraphone before the recording session for "No Strings Attached" begins at the Temple Performing Arts Center on April 17. | JOSEPH V. LABOLITO / COURTESY

Although COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to record live music, it did not stop the Boyer College of Music and Dance Records from releasing their second album, “No Strings Attached.”

“It certainly was more difficult to get this done under those circumstances,” said Phillip O’Banion, director of Philadelphia Percussion + Piano Project and associate professor of percussion studies at Boyer. 

Last spring, composer Marc Mellits collaborated with BCM&D Records to produce his latest album, “No Strings Attached,” consisting of 14 instrumental songs. 

The album was produced through BCM&D Records and debuted on Aug. 20 on streaming services, like Spotify, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and on CD, O’Banion said. 

Each song on the album was written and produced during a different time in Mellits’ career, with the oldest one, “Troica,” dating back to 1998, Mellits said. 

Although each song was composed years apart, it only took about four months to produce the album, O’Banion said.

In addition to producing music, BCM&D Records strives to provide opportunities for students to get involved and gain more experience performing. 

“It’s really great for our students to give them a sort of real world, professional level, you know, chamber ensemble experience, and to get them in the studio and recording things,” O’Banion said. 

Alonzo Davis, a junior music education major at Boyer and member of the percussion ensemble at Temple, has had many opportunities to perform with O’Banion and other musicians while working toward his degree. 

Boyer’s studio consists of about 24 percussionists, ranging from first year music education and percussion students to graduate students, and sometimes professional studies students. Davis was selected out of the 24 to play percussion and be featured on “No Strings Attached,” he said.  

The album features 14 musicians, and Davis is on the first track of the album, “Black,” which is a quartet of four marimbas, he said.

“It’s my first time playing on a Temple percussion album,” Davis said. “And it was quite different from anything that I’ve ever done.” 

Every half hour, performers vacated the Temple Performing Arts Center  so the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system could exchange the old air with fresh to prevent the spread of germs, O’Banion explained. 

O’Banion grew familiar with Mellits and his work about nine years ago. The two joined a consortium commission, a group that commissions a composer to write a new piece, giving them exclusive access to the work, O’Banion wrote in an email to The Temple News. 

“[Mellits] writes, I think, really fascinating, exciting, interesting percussion music,” O’Banion said. “So when we were discussing possibilities for a project this year, during the pandemic, I thought, well, I think this is stuff I can get done sort of in house here, with the players, the ensemble and the students.”

If it weren’t for individuals and groups like BCM&D Records who are eager and willing to perform these pieces, there would be no record, Mellits said. 

“Together, we create this sort of magical thing that happens,” Mellits said. “When music leaves the stage and into your ears, or comes out of your phone and into your ears or whatever, like that experience is just magical. And I just feel like I’m part of that bigger picture.”

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