Instrument Talk Levelling up with Eric Renick - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Eric Renick - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we see this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their music to the next level!
Through this month we are profiling friends of KBB Music. These are incredible homegrown artists who have achieved amazing success in their respective musical fields. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments that they recommend to budding kiwi musicians.
As Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Principal Percussionist since 2010, Eric Renick has been a keen musician for most of his life – beginning his musical studies at just 12 years old.
Originally from Indiana in the USA, Eric received his Bachelor’s degree from Butler University, where he studied with Jon Crabiel. While at Butler, he also won first prize in the University’s Concerto Competition.
Eric gained a Master’s degree and artist certificate from Chicago’s Roosevelt and DePaul universities under the guidance of Ed Harrison, Eric Milstein and Ted Atkatz. While in Chicago he co-founded the Chicago Arts Orchestra where he currently still serves on the Artistic Advisory Committee. Eric also performed with the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony’s MusicNow series, the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
In 2007 Eric was awarded a fellowship with the New World Symphony (NWS), where he performed under the batons of Michael Tilson Thomas, Itzhak Perlman, Osmo Vänskä, Marin Alsop, Donald Runnicles, John Adams and Vladimir Ashkenazy, among others. He also performed in NWS’s Percussion Consort and participated in digital media collaborations.
On top of this, Eric has also performed with the San Francisco, St. Louis, Kansas City, and New Zealand symphonies; Hong Kong Philharmonic and Malaysian Philharmonic; and Grant Park, Breckenridge and Spoleto (USA) festival orchestras.
Eric Renick is a regular collaborator with cross-genre musicians as well as film scoring and presenting concert performances with digital/electronic elements. He also performs in the Antipodes Percussion Project, an ensemble focused on using percussion chamber music to educate young musicians.
In 2017, he performed the Southern Hemisphere premiere of Rautavaara’s Incantations, a concerto for percussion and orchestra and in 2018 performed Michael Torke’s Mojave (a marimba concerto) on a tour to China with the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra. Eric has presented master classes and coachings across the USA, China, Australia and New Zealand. He is an artist teacher at the University of Auckland a member of the TAPS faculty and is endorsed by Zildjian and Malletech.
Get to know Eric better in the Auckland Philharmoma Orchestra’s ‘Meet The Principals’ series!
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were your breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
My first breakthrough moment came at a time when I was about to give up music.
I was living in Chicago and had finished my Masters in Orchestral Percussion when I was asked to come study with the Principal Percussionist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Ted Atkatz).
I was absolutely broke and didn’t know how I could afford to go on... I was about to leave the school when I was called and asked to play a 3 month run of Turandot with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. I couldn’t believe it! This gig allowed me to continue studying (by paying my rent) and opened up a world of music and sounds that I had previously only seen from the audience.
Get a taste of what Erics all about with his fun cover of Vulfpeck’s Dean Town. Yes, even Orchestral Percussionists like to groove!
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
I have a Snare Drum custom made by an old friend named Josh Colvin. It’s particularly special to me because it was modelled after my teacher’s drum. My teacher (again, Ted Atkatz) loaned me the drum to take an audition for the New World Symphony, which I won. My teacher would never sell me his drum of course, so I asked Josh to build me one.
That drum is special for sentimental reasons, but it actually doesn’t have the punch needed to play in a full orchestra...soooo, my next favourite instrument will be the custom made Black Swamp Titanium Sound Art Snared Drum that is currently being built for me. This drum has an insane amount of body, crunch, and articulation needed to power a full orchestra - while owning the snare specs to nimbly and delicately jump through the most fragile passages. I’m hoping to have it laser engraved with a design by a traditional Moko artist to attempt to tell my story here in NZ. Though I need to find someone who can laser engrave Titanium...so let me know if you’ve got any leads!
Finally, I would never part with my 22” Zildjian K Constantinople Ride Cymbal. I picked it out from the factory and we’ve become pretty tight over the years. It’s just got the right amount of articulation to move a tune along but enough spread to hold everything back when needed. I really love it.
What instruments would you recommend to other percussionists?
Beginners – Mercury 3.5” x 13” Drum
A percussionist’s first purchase is usually their Snare Drum. I definitely don’t think your first snare drum should be a custom, laser engraved Titanium Drum, but I do think it’s worth getting a good sounding drum.
These instruments will define your ears and a good drum will last you your entire career. I still play on one of the first drums that I bought almost 25 years ago. Black Swamp has a great entry-level snare drum called the Concert Maple Series. This is a great entry-level drum that will sound better than most of the snare drums you typically find in classrooms...and it will last your entire career.
Intermediates – Pro10 Studio Concert Drum
The ‘next level’, or intermediate level is the Pro10 Studio. I actually borrowed one recently and couldn’t believe how good it sounded. I would honestly use this in the orchestra!
As a percussionist, there are a number of different instruments to own. It is my belief that it’s worth owning quality instruments right from the beginning. In particular, Tambourines, Triangles and Cymbals.
Final words of advice to players of all levels.
These instruments will define your ears for the rest of your life, so I wouldn’t mess around with cheap “instruments” that are just there to be sold in mass. This is why I strongly urge band directors and percussionists to look at everything Black Swamp has to offer. This company was founded by percussionists and their only interest is creating equipment that the best players would use.
I should also say that a high price doesn’t mean best! Quality is the most important aspect and finding an instrument that makes a quality sound is the most important part. I have foolishly spent money on “the best” before and have come back to using some less expensive but great quality instruments.
You can also check out the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra on their Facebook Page.