Chamber Percussion Ensembles

The Millikin Chamber Percussion Ensembles, now under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Brunk and Prof. Aaron Villarreal, carry on a tradition of excellence in performance, recording, and commissioning concert repertoire for percussion.  Under the leadership of Prof. Brian Justison from 1999-2017, the ensemble won the 2003 the Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition and was selected to perform at the 2008 PASIC Focus Day session. In 2013, the group was awarded a Downbeat Student Music Award for "Best Classical Group." Performances at numerous regional music festivals are also part of their activities. Additionally, their debut CD, Best Kept Secret, received laudable reviews from both Gramophone Magazine and Percussive Notes. The group has premiered more than 20 new works, including four such premieres at PASIC showcase concerts. They released their second CD in the fall of 2012 comprised solely of works premiered by the ensemble.


Each year the percussion ensembles present a concert season beginning with the ever popular Halloween concerts. Sponsored the Decatur Children’s Museum, WAND TV and Pepsi, this all-ages, family-friendly event of the season takes place in the infamously haunted Albert Taylor Theater. Audience members join the ensemble in costume and all proceeds go toward MU students attending the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. The ensemble then embarks on an annual recruiting tour with recent performances in Central Illinois, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Memphis, Quad Cities and Chicago.


In February, Percussion Ensemble Synergy showcases the distinctiveness of Millikin's ubiquitous interdisciplinary alliances through a collaborative concert featuring performances with students and faculty across the College of Fine Arts.


The season ends in April with the Masterworks concert showcasing the depth and breadth of contemporary percussion chamber music through a program featuring works by the disciplines leading composers. Each year, the Millikin ensemble premieres a new work commissioned through the Percussion Music Commission Fund on this program. In sum, these ensembles explore the diverse world of percussion music from the novel to the sublime.


Works Premiered by the Ensemble

Zack Browning, Moon Venus
Donald Skoog: La Cantilena de las Luces (marimba, electric bass, batá, and percussion ensemble)
Michael Engelhardt:  A Rival (choir, percussion & live electronics)
Jeremy Brunk: Match Play (collegiate wrestlers & percussion ensemble)
Zack Stanton:  Venture
Brian Justison: Two Gentlemen of Verona (incidental music)
Daniel Wohl:  Spontaneous Logic
Christopher Reyman: Ocean Maker (film score)
Jeremy Brunk:  Hammerschlag                      
Randall Reyman:  A Leaf Falling (alto sax solo and percussion ensemble)
Pat Muchmore:  Regvlvs 
James Romig:  Out Of Frame  
John Stafford:  Humanity I Love You (percussion ensemble, 2 pianists, women's choir & turntablist)
O'Neal Douglas:  Two Allusions (percussion ensemble & brass ensemble)
Sabrina Pena Young:  Creation (percussion ensemble, women's choir & mixed media)
Brian Justison:  Zippo
Sabrina Pena Young: Virelaan (percussion ensemble & mixed media)
Jeremy Brunk:  Dominican Cycles
Vieuxtemps/Musser/LeVan: Fantasy on Yankee Doodle (percussion ensemble & marimba soloist)
Charles Aldous:  Soundscape for Djembe and Didgeridoo
Vieuxtemps/Musser/LeVan:  Fantasy on St. Patrick’s  Day
David J. Long:  Mixtures #2
Steve Riley:  Vortices (percussion ensemble & drum set soloist)
Jeremy Brunk: Evolution
Brian Justison:  Samba Diablo
Brian Justison:  Just Buckets


World Percussion Ensemble

The World Percussion Ensemble provides students with the opportunity to explore playing techniques and rhythms from around the world with a special emphasis on Afro-Caribbean music. In addition to offering traditional world music performances, the group's interest in combining elements of western and non-western music has given rise to an eclectic mix of jazz, pop, and world music which has thrilled audiences throughout the region. The group’s first CD, Latin Jazz Project, received a laudable review in Percussive Notes (December 2006). The group’s second release, Global Perspectives, was also met with critical acclaim. Both are distributed through First Step Records. In 2013, the group won a Downbeat Award for "Outstanding Latin Jazz Performance" released its third CD entitled, Simon Says. The Latin Jazz Project was featured as the only student ensemble at the Havana Jazz Festival in 2016. Their 3rd release, Balance Issues, is now available on iTunes and Spotify.


For more information visit our Percussion Studies page.


  • Millikin Percussion Halloween Concert features world premiere of Moon Venus by Zack Browning, commissioned by the  Percussion Commissions Fund (2019)
  • Millikin Percussion Studio relocates to a NEW PERCUSSION HOUSE!  Formerly New Hall 3, the new Percussion facility boasts 10 practice rooms, 3 teaching studios, 2 small rehearsal studios, a larger main rehearsal studio, ample storage, library space, student lounge, and loading dock
  • Donald Skoog and Maria Mobasseri give masterclasses in Arabic drumming and dance for Millikin Percussion students, Ethnomusicology classes, and SOTAD dance students (2019)
  • Dr. Jeremy Brunk joins Marimba Festiva! as a guest artist and adjudicator at the International Marimba Competition, Bamberg, Germany (2018)
  • Millikin Chamber Percussion Ensembles premiere La Cantilena de las Luces, by Donald Skoog for marimba solo, electic bass, and percussion ensemble (featuring Batá trio) (2018)
  • Prof. Brian Justison named Director of the School of Music; Dr. Jeremy Brunk promoted to Assistant Professor of Music, assumes responsibilities as Coordinator of Percussion; Prof. Aaron Villarreal hired as Adjunct Professor in Percussion, Principal Timpanist of MDSO, and Preparatory Department Faculty in Percussion (2017)
  • Andy Miller, Fulbright scholar and expert in Colombian folkloric music, performs recital and masterclass for Millikin Percussionists (2017)
  • Latin Jazz Project performs at Havana Jazz Festival (2016)
  • Katarzyna Mycka and Conrado Moya, international marimba solo artists, performed a duo recital, gave masterclasses and lessons for MU students and faculty (2016)
  • Alejandro Carvajal residency in Cuban Batá drumming traditions with Millikin Percussion Studio (2016)
  • Millikin percussionists collaborate with multi-media artist, Craig Dongoski (2016)
  • Millikin Chamber Percussion Ensemble premieres Match Play by Dr. Jeremy Brunk (2016)
  • Don Skoog and the Contemporary Music Project performed a batá master class for MU students and faculty (2015)
  • MU percussionists travel to Havana, Cuba for Latin percussion immersion study. (2015)
  • MU Percussion Ensemble records film score (percussion) for Lucas Martell animated film, Ocean Maker. (2014)
  • Percussion Ensembles win two Downbeat Awards! (2013)
    • "Outstanding Latin Jazz Performance" (undergraduate) MU World Percussion Ensemble.
    • "Winner" Classical Group (undergraduate) MU Chamber Percussion Ensemble
  • The MU World Percussion Ensemble "Latin Jazz Project" selected to perform at Drum Fest, a regional event featuring performances by drummers Dave Weckl & Paul Wertico. The group was recently invited to perform at the Jazz Educators Network National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on January 2, 2013. Their new CD is available from First Step Records, iTunes & Spotify.
  • The MU Chamber Percussion Ensemble releases Premieres Volume 1 on First Step Records.
  • MU percussionists spend their 2012 spring break in Havana, Cuba studying percussion with Jose Eladio Amat. (see video highlights)
  • Jeremy Brunk publishes his collection of 13 developmental solo marimba solos with Edition Svitzer. These pieces represent an important new addition to the marimba repertoire.
  • The MU Chamber Percussion Ensemble features two world premieres on its recent Masterworks concert: Out Of Frame by James Romig and Regulus by Pat Muchmore were performed on April 28, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center. (see video highlights)
  • MU Percussion Coordinator, Brian Justison,  publishes the 2nd edition of his Jazz Drumming Workbook with First Step Publishing. The new edition features all the great "systems" from the past with a revised 3/4 section.
  • The MU Percussion Ensemble performs at the 2010 IL PAS Day of Percussion at McKendree College. This was the ensemble's fourth DOP appearance since 1998.
  • The MU Percussion Ensemble selected to perform at the 2008 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Austin, TX. The ensemble’s appearance was part of the Focus Day performances on Wednesday, November, 5. The student’s recent achievements played an important role in this nomination as past programs, recordings, and video were submitted. However, the centerpiece of our application was Dr. Jeremy Brunk’s new piece, "Dominican Cycles." Jeremy is a Millikin alum who currently holds a lecturer position in the School of Music. Brunk wrote the piece for the ensemble following its 2007 tour of the Dominican Republic. This is an achievement of the highest order for the Brunk and the ensemble. In 2003 the ensemble was selected to perform at the convention by winning the PAS International Percussion Ensemble Competition.


  • 2013 Jazz Educators Network National Conference performance by World Percussion Ensemble (Latin Jazz Project), Atlanta, GA
  • 2013 Downbeat Student Music Award for "Outstanding Latin Jazz Performance" MU World Percussion Ensemble
  • 2013 Downbeat Student Music Award "Winner" Best Classical Group, MU Chamber Percussion Ensemble
  • Percussive Arts Society International Convention 2008 "Focus Day" performance by Chamber Percussion Ensemble, Austin, TX
  • Finalist in the 2003 Percussive Arts Society International Percussion Ensemble Competition, Louisville, KY
  • Recipient of laudable reviews in Percussive Notes and Gramophone Magazine (June 2004) for the chamber ensemble's Best Kept Secret CD.
  • Host of the 2006 IMEA All-State Percussion Symposium Featured performance at the Percussive Arts Society (IL Chapter) " Day of Percussion" (1998, 2000, 2006, 2008)
  • Featured performance at the 2007 IMEA All State Music Festival


Spring 2022

Synergy Percussion Ensemble Concert

Sunday, Feb. 20

4 pm

Kirkland Fine Arts Center


Millikin Percussion Winter Workshop + STOMP

Saturday, Feb. 26

12-5 pm Clinics (free) @ Percussion House, 1212 W Main St. Decatur IL

- register:

7:30 pm STOMP @ KFAC ($35-55)

- tickets:


Faculty Recital Series - Marimba Spiritual (Brunk/Villarreal)

Sunday, Apr. 3

4 pm

Perkinson Music Center - Kaeuper Hall


Premieres Percussion Ensemble Concert

Sunday, Apr. 24

4 pm

Kirkland Fine Arts Center


ILPAS Percussion Clinics & Uncontest

Saturday, Apr. 30


Percussion House, 1212 W Main St. Decatur IL


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