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Percussion on the Rock

Did you know that the birth

of the percussion ensemble

is nearly 100 years old? 


PNW Percussion on the Rock presents

“Crash” - We're Still Here! 

Join us for a four day workshop/festival focusing on the early years of this iconic genre.  Held on beautiful Whidbey Island (affectionately known as "The Rock")  northwest of Seattle, this one-of-a-kind experience is for percussionists, music educators, 20th century music enthusiasts and those simply eager to learn about “artful noise”.  Uniquely designed as a two-fold experience, participants will explore classic percussion ensemble repertoire through both historical and performance contexts.


Hosted by the percussionists of Whidbey's Saratoga Orchestra and led by special guest faculty, Jame Culley and Patrick Roulet. 

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Workshop Highlights:

  • Lectures, listening, score study & discussion sessions 

  • Rehearsals of classic percussion ensemble and chamber music literature

  • Rainshadow Sessions: grab your favorite cup of PNW Joe and let’s talk music…or beyond!

  • D-Pod Drum Circle.  Here in the PNW we love our Whale pods and wanted our own Musical pod so welcome D-Pod. 

Faculty 2024


As an original member of the Percussion Group Cincinnati (PGC), James Culley has recorded with PCG for the ars moderno, Mode, CDCM, Opus One, Einstein and EMF labels, and performed throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has directed CCM's Percussion Ensemble for forty-five years, promoting new works by CCM student composers and specializing in performances of unconducted, full-score pieces. This student group has performed at Percussive Arts Society International Conventions in Nashville, St. Louis, and Columbus. In 1998 he received the Ernest N. Glover Outstanding Teaching Award for CCM.


James attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where as a double-degree student, Culley received a Bachelor of Music degree from the conservatory (percussion studies with Mike Rosen) and a Bachelor of Arts in Classics (Latin) from the College in 1977. Culley then studied with John Beck at the Eastman School of Music, receiving his master’s degree in 1979. “I was still in grad school when I interviewed for the job in Cincinnati,” he recalls. “I had the good fortune to join the trio when I was in my early 20s, and it happened to be in my hometown, a rare occurrence in the music field.”

Culley has performed as an extra percussionist in the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Opera Orchestras, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Chautauqua Festival Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, Columbus Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and Summit Brass, and he freelances as timpanist/percussionist in regional orchestras.

Dr. Patrick Roulet, the percussion professor at Western Washington University, is a teaching artist with broad interests in symphonic percussion, jazz, and global music. His previous teaching appointments have included full-time tenured positions at Towson University and Southern Utah University and eight seasons as the percussion instructor at the New England Music Camp in Maine.

He has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles, and the Rose Theater at New York’s Lincoln Center. He served as the principal timpanist of the Bellingham Festival of Music and has freelanced in several metropolitan areas performing with the Seattle Symphony and orchestras in Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Utah.
His is the author of Intermediate Studies for Developing Artists on Keyboard Percussion and ten collections of music arranged for vibraphone and marimba including music from Disney classics, the Beatles, Christmas songs, church hymns, and fiddle tunes. His enduring curiosity for world percussion and the blending of music and culture inspired him to travel and study in Ghana, West Africa where he recently spent six weeks drumming and playing the traditional xylophone of the Dagara called the Gyil.
Patrick has performed and presented at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) and the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago.

Patrick is a Yamaha Performing Artist and endorser of Grover Pro Percussion and Vic Firth.

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Repertoire in Performance

Thomas Siwe: E.V.

Gerald Strang: Percussion Music for Three Players

Johanna Beyer - Percussion Music IV 

John Cage - Child of Tree

Michael Colgrass - Unaccompanied Solos for Snare Drum

Carlos Chávez - Xochipilli

(w/members of Saratoga Orchestra) 

Alan Hovhaness - October Mountain 


ERICA MONTGOMERY retired from the United States Air Force Band, Washington DC in 2018 where she served as Principal Timpanist. Prior to joining the USAF Band, she served as Principal Timpanist with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the Illinois Symphony.  An active freelance musician she has performed with the Louisville Orchestra, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Monarch Brass, Brass of the Potomac, Evansville Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.

Erica earned a B.M. performance degree from the University of Illinois where she was recipient of the prestigious Edgard Varèse Award and a Master of Music performance degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  Erica is excited to now call Whidbey Island home, the perfect place to play drums, drink coffee, and explore nature.   In her spare time she is always keeping an eye out for the elusive Sasquatch or our local Southern Resident Orcas. 

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BRANDON NELSON is Director of Bands at Oak Harbor Intermediate School on Whidbey Island and has built an award-winning program ranging from the marching band to the jazz band to wind ensembles during his leadership at Oak Harbor High School. Brandon has served as principal percussionist for Saratoga Orchestra of Whidbey Island since 2016. He earned his Masters degree in Music Performance from Portland State University and Bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas. A devoted educator, in 2018 Brandon was honored by School Band and Orchestra magazine as Washington's Director Who Makes a Difference.

Having worked as a band director and drumline coach in Oregon, Washington, and Texas, Brandon is passionate about training the next generation of musicians to clap on beats two and four. Outside of the classroom, he can be found performing on drumset, french horn, bassoon, voice, and as a conductor & adjudicator. Additionally, life has gotten even more fulfilling for Brandon and his partner Eva with the birth of their first child.





Percussion on the Rock 2024 will be held in Oak Harbor, on beautiful Whidbey Island. 



Who will be coming?

We hope a wide and diverse background of percussion enthusiasts will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. From college/university students and faculty to seasoned pros and rusty amateurs, there will be something for everyone. 

Advanced High School percussion students with a path toward a music degree are also welcome to apply. Under 18 must be accompanied by parent. 

How do you apply? - Go to REGISTRATION Button above. 

Active Participants:

1. Submit a 1 page resume or CV, plus

2. Submit a link to a representative short video performance, either as soloist or in a percussion ensemble setting, plus 

3. A short intention paragraph on why you want to attend, educational experience and what you wish to gain or learn? 


Please submit a short intention paragraph on why you want to attend, what you wish to gain or learn?  Auditors will be allowed to observe all lectures and rehearsal sessions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday's culminating performance is charged separately. 

Do you offer Scholarships?

Yes...a limited number of partial scholarships are available.


What should I expect a day at “Crash” to be like? 

We will start the day with lectures, listening and discussions of classic percussion ensemble repertoire.  After we “geek out” a while listening and learning, we’ll follow-that with rehearsals of corresponding repertoire.  Additionally, we’ll be joined by members of Whidbey's Saratoga Orchestra to make the chamber music experience even more enjoyable.   Morning sessions will be primarily study and afternoon sessions primarily rehearsals and special topic discussions

Will I get to play? 

Yes! Final decisions on repertoire and parts will be determined based on attendance numbers. Our goal is  wanting to make this a meaningful and positive experience for you. 


What will I play?

We will be performing classic percussion ensemble repertoire.  Based on your skill level/interest you’ll be assigned parts in various pieces. 

What parts will I be assigned?

Once attendance is determined we will send out a questionnaire asking for specific requests re: repertoire, parts and elective opportunities. 


Do I have to play? 

No, auditing is a great way to absorb the experience and gain insight into this crazy genre. 

What are the options for commuting? 

Seattle area commuters can be a walk on passenger from the Mukilteo ferry and may take advantage of Island Transit, the FREE bus system on Whidbey Island operating Monday through Saturday. There is a bus route from the Clinton Ferry that drops off in downtown Oak Harbor. 


Getting Here

Arriving by Air

  • Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport (SEA) is the closest major airport to Whidbey Island with numerous options for most domestic and international routes. Whidbey SeaTac Airport Shuttle provides frequent service from SEA to all points on Whidbey Island. 

  • Alaska airlines serves Everett's Paine Field (PAE) with direct service from many major western US cities. Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle also serves PAE. 

  • Bellingham (BLI) and Vancouver B.C., Canada (YVR) may also be a viable option depending on your departure city. 

Arriving by Car
If you are driving to Whidbey Island from points south, you can take the ferry from the Mukilteo terminal which is 24 miles north of downtown Seattle and just off I-5.

Ferry - Mukilteo to Clinton
The ferry from Mukilteo on the mainland will get you to Clinton on Whidbey Island. The ferry ride is about a twenty minute sailing and ferries leave approximately every 30 minutes. During the summer, the ferry can be quite busy and you may experience an extended wait time if you drive on the ferry.  Clinton to Oak Harbor is approximately 50 minute drive. Carpools can be arranged each day if there is demand. Schedules here -


Ferry - Port Townsend to Coupeville (Keystone)

Participants coming from the Olympic Peninsula can take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville (Keystone). A free bus services to/from the ferry terminal is available as well as pre-arranged carpools.  Island Transit schedule. 

Over the Bridge and through the Woods
If you are coming from points north of Whidbey Island, you can cross to the island on Highway 20 via Deception Pass Bridge which connects the north of Whidbey to the mainland. The views are spectacular! 

For tourist information including accommodations on Whidbey Island, visit:

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