Dancing to the Beat of Her Marimba: Dr. Andrea Venet Debuts New Percussion Compositions at UNF Fine Arts Center World Premiere

Photos by Jennifer Melville

Energetic, engaging, and entertaining.

Assistant Professor of Percussion Dr. Andrea Venet captivated audiences at the UNF School of Music Recital Hall Friday, September 7th with her world premier performance of three original musical compositions.

Crafting a careful ballet of mallets, Venet poured herself into her music heart and soul. Brandishing two sticks in each hand, this vibrant marimba master mesmerized the crowd from the first strike.

Venet began the evening with a marimba solo written by Steve Ridley, a musical tale of two dueling pirate captains who fought each other to the death, so impassioned with their hatred that they didn’t notice their worlds falling apart around them. Venet left her audience with an amusing antidote, “Humans suck because nature always kicks our butts.” Venet’s marimba solo masterfully animated the ocean squall and pirate battle as well as her audience’s imaginations.

“Chromeo” was the first original composition of the evening. Venet and UNF graduate music student Paige DeDecker made an enchanting percussion duo. Utilizing a variety of drums and metallic sounds, master and protégé jammed and jived through a complicated rhythmic journey. Fun fact: Venet taught DeDecker back in Middle School.

Moody, unpredictable, and enigmatic, Venet’s second composition, “Lava,” brought the audience on an unpredictable yet fascinating journey. Sometimes excitable, other moments eerie, “Lava” was meant to remind listeners of how lava slowly transforms through motion. “Like lava, it changes and morphs, slow and fast, very dark but also light,” Venet said.

The last piece of the night was “Green Ranger,” an energetic and quirky piece played on an emerald-keyed vibraphone with the support of the talented UNF Percussion Ensemble. Full of suspense and rhythmic intrigue, “Green Ranger”—inspired by Power Rangers but not about them—offered the audience a delightful end to the evening’s performance.

Venet is a percussion artist, educator, composer, Director of Percussion Studies at UNF, a member of the Percussive Arts Society, and part of the percussion duo Escape Ten alongside Virginia Tech’s Dr. Annie Stevens. She’s played and competed internationally and maintains a steady performance tour schedule.

The UNF School of Music Recital Hall was packed with students, families, and retirees alike and if the standing ovation was any indication, they thoroughly approved of Venet’s latest compositions. Should the opportunity arise to attend one of Venet’s concerts, it’ll be an evening well spent. The artist’s website lists upcoming performances, both locally and on the road. On October 16, she’ll perform again at the UNF Fine Arts Center as part of the UNF Symphony Orchestra Concert.

Venet’s style is mesmerizing, her music is delightful, and her unique charm adds a vibrant beat to Jacksonville’s cultural scene.

About Jennifer Melville

Jennifer Melville is a contributing writer for EU Jacksonville, South Magazine, Folio Magazine, Green Prints, Focus on the Family, and various other print and online publications. She’s a military wife, mother of four, and a leader in the NE Florida homeschooling community. You can check out more of her work on her website, Azalea Publications or follow her on Twitter.