Children playing on tank drums made of repurposed propane tanks, which will be installed at Percussion Park.

CCM Jazz Alumnus Ben Sloan to Open Percussion Park in East Price Hill

If you build it, they will drum — East Price Hill is getting a new park that is built to make noise. Part playground, part instrument, Percussion Park opens in grand style on Friday, April 21, with a celebration at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues.

Percussion Park is the creation of Ben Sloan, who graduated from UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2011 with a BM in Jazz Studies. It all began when Sloan watched a video of a child playing on a drum set made of paint cans and buckets. He thought, “I could build something like that” and set to work.

A bass marimba inspired by the marimbas commonly found in Zimbabwe. The instrument will soon be installed at Percussion Park. Photo provided by Ben Sloan.

A bass marimba inspired by the marimbas commonly found in Zimbabwe. The instrument will soon be installed at Percussion Park. Photo provided by Ben Sloan.

The park is a collection of outdoor percussion instruments; a brass marimba, tank drums made with propane tanks, suspended stainless tubes and wooden tongue drums. The instruments are easy to play, some are meditative and others are bouncy and playful. “It’s sculptural, it’s playful, it’s bright, it’s inviting,” Sloan says. “It’s a space for making noise.”

He hopes people will enjoy the instruments and make connections through music.

“Perhaps someone finds some clarity playing an instrument on their own on a dreary afternoon, or a couple of friends have a laugh while playing something as they pass by, or total strangers find themselves communicating through music,” Sloan says. “I would love to see the park become a gathering space for the community, a place for events, for impromptu performances — a place for creative expression.”

 

Sloan works as a teaching artist and site coordinator at MYCincinnati, an after school youth orchestra program directed by CCM alumnus Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011). He teaches the pre-orchestra students, ages 5-10, in a class that combines singing, movement, percussion and “a lot of silliness.”

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Price Hill Will help clean up the vacant lot, which will soon host the Percussion Park.

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Price Hill Will help clean up the vacant lot, which will soon host the Percussion Park.

Last spring Sloan shared his idea for Percussion Park with MYCincinnati founder Laura Jekel, who is also the head of Creative Placemaking at Price Hill Will, a nonprofit focused on community development. She shared Sloan’s idea with Price Hill Will and a few days later there was space for Percussion Park in an empty lot at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues.

Sloan received a $10,000 grant for the park from People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati. He also worked with Price Hill Will and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful to revitalize the vacant lot. They have added a rain garden, plants and trees in addition to Sloan’s outdoor instruments.

When he isn’t teaching or building a new community park, Sloan performs in a handful of other local music projects including A Delicate Motor, Lazy Heart and Fresh Funk.

“Many of the musicians I play regularly with are CCM alums,” Sloan says. “My biggest takeaway from CCM are the friendships forged over those four years.”

Sloan recently connected with fellow alums from CCM and UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) at an event hosted by the UC Alumni Association. He spoke about Percussion Park at the event, which was held at People’s Liberty.

Percussion Park’s opening celebration is from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, April 21 at the corner of Warsaw and McPherson avenues in East Price Hill. The celebration features short performances from MYCincinnati musicians and free catered food from local restaurants Veracruz Mexican Grill and Urban Grill.

For more information on Percussion Park, visit percussionpark.com.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News
Participants from the Music for Youth in Cincinnati's (MYCincinnati's) free youth orchestra program in Price Hill.

CCM Hosts Gathering of Midwestern “El Sistema” Inspired Programs This Weekend

This Saturday, May 9, CCM will welcome “El Sistema” inspired programs from throughout the region for the Fourth Annual Midwestern Seminario.

Hosted by CCM’s Preparatory Department and Office of Community Engagement, the event will draw nearly 200 young performing artists who are involved in programs inspired by “El Sistema,” Venezuela’s National Network of Youth and Children Orchestras. Over the past 35 years, El Sistema has evolved into a world-renowned youth development program, which uses music as a vehicle for social change. El Sistema’s success in helping children build better futures has led to the creation of similar programs in over 30 countries around the world.

Participating programs include North Limestone Music Works (Lexington, KY), Shift: Englewood Youth Orchestra (Chicago), Q the Music (Dayton, Ohio), MYCincinnati (Cincinnati) and the Avondale Youth Orchestra (Cincinnati).

The Seminario‘s guest speakers will include CCM Dean Peter Landgren and UC President Santa J. Ono.

The program on Saturday, May 9, will culminate with a participant’s concert at 4 p.m. in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the general public!

The concert will be conducted by CCM alumni Eddy Kwon (BM Jazz Studies, 2011) and Isaac Selya (DMA Orchestral Conducting, 2014), along with Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras Artistic Director Daniel Chetel.

“We believe in the power of the arts to bring people together to create a strong, vibrant community,”  explains CCM Director of Community Engagement Anne Cushing-Reid. “This gathering reflects our ongoing commitment to community engagement and collaboration. We are also proud to support the efforts of the CCM students and alumni who are working locally with MYCincinnati, through a grant provided by ArtsWave.”

You can learn more about the other community engagement initiatives fueled by ArtsWave’s grant support here.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News

Price Hill String Quartet Presents FREE All-Mendelssohn Concert on May 2

The Price Hill String Quartet.

The Price Hill String Quartet.

CCM’s new Community Partner the Price Hill String Quartet will present a FREE all-Mendelssohn program beginning at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, May 2, at the LISH Art Gallery in Price Hill. This concert is open to the general public and will conclude with the first and last movements of the Mendelssohn Octet performed by the Quartet and four members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra!

The Price Hill Quartet is the string quartet of Music for Youth in Cincinnati (MYCincinnati). The Quartet is comprised of two MYCincinnati directors and two current CCM students, and is funded in part by CCM and CCM’s ArtsWave Community Partnership grant.

Learn more about CCM’s New Community Engagement Initiatives here.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Student Salutes