Now performing as part of BrassTaps Duo, a Woodstock North High School graduate will return to his alma mater to encourage students to drum to their own beat.
Known as a star drummer in high school, Anthony DeMartinis joined with tuba player Evan Zegiel in 2016 as the two earned master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. They since have performed their contemporary, yet classical brand of chamber music throughout Michigan and beyond as BrassTaps Duo.
They strive to not only entertain, but also to educate with their music.
“I’m passionate about music and would love to help the next generation of musicians grow and have opportunities that I might not have had when I was younger,” said DeMartinis, who graduated from Woodstock North in 2012.
“Especially with middle and high school kids, they’re getting past the point of just learning how to play their instruments,” he said. “Of course, that’s a lifelong adventure. But they’re developing their own personalities, and that really shows in their music.”
As part of a return visit to Woodstock North, DeMartinis and Zegiel will host a series of master classes and coachings with students before putting on a concert at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Woodstock Performing Arts Center, 3000 Raffel Road, Woodstock. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
DeMartinis suggested the visit by contacting Bill Kraemer-Simpson, the band director and fine arts department chairman at Woodstock North. Kraemer-Simpson started working at the high school during DeMartinis’ senior year.
DeMartinis began playing percussion at age 5.
“I guess the story goes I got in trouble in preschool for tapping on my desk all the time,” he said. “My parents thought, ‘Let’s try him on music lessons.’”
He grew up playing everything from his father’s classic rock music, such as Led Zeppelin, to classical. He performed in all of the high school bands and choir, and took part in every spring musical. He also was a member of the McHenry County Honors Band, the regional and All-State orchestras and bands and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Kraemer-Simpson welcomed him back as someone to both inspire students with his skills and offer a fresh perspective on music.
“It lets the kids see the future of music beyond the walls of the high school,” Kraemer-Simpson said.
BrassTaps Duo tries to incorporate outreach and education in every performance, said Zegiel, also a composer and first-year Tuba Fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida.
The duo wants young musicians to know they can make ensembles out of any instruments and any music, he said.
“We both have wide-ranging influences and interests ourselves, from hip hop to a lot of heavy metal,” Zegiel said.
The eclectic mix of music and arrangements they perform appeals to a wide range of audiences, he said.
“I think it’s impactful for younger kids, especially those who are thinking of pursuing some kind of musical career,” Zegiel said. “Our main goal is to give them ideas and try to inspire them to come up with crazy ideas.”
For information on the concert venue, visit www.woodstockschools.org/domain/499.