Brice Burton, Principal Percussion
Are you a native Charlottean?
No, I am from San Diego, CA
What was your musical upbringing like?
I started on Piano at age 4 and stopped playing when I was 7 because I didn't practice enough. I picked up percussion shortly after seeing an orchestra concert - I was fixated on the percussionists because they were playing so many different instruments. I started on snare drum, then added learning marimba after a year, then after another year added learning timpani. Neither or my parents are musicians, but my grandfather was a music teacher and his brother went to USC for music - trombone performance - which is where I ended up doing my formal education as well, so music somewhat runs in the family.
What are the challenges and opportunities unique to your instrument?
With percussion, every note we play is a solo - there's no one else covering
our parts. Additionally, our instruments have a sharp attack and speak immediately, so we have to be very accurate with the timing of our notes. The timing becomes even more of a challenge when you are playing two 8-lb cymbals or hitting a chime above your head with a hammer. With these aspects we can sometimes feel very exposed!
Do you teach?
Yes, I am on faculty at Queen's University of Charlotte and also coach the percussion students in the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte.
Outside of your work with the Charlotte Symphony, where else do you perform?
Over the summer I am lucky enough to be close to two major symphonies which sometimes ask me to perform with them, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony. I was fortunate enough to join the LA Phil on their 2018 East Coast/European tour and perform with them occasionally during the year.
Can you describe what you’re thinking and feeling right before a concert starts?
It depends on the piece we're playing. Sometimes I don't play at the beginning of a piece and it can be a while before I have to come in, so I am just ready to enjoy listening to my colleagues (while listening for my cue/counting rests). Most of the time, however, I am just focused on the conductor and feeling ready to play.
What music do you enjoy listening to, classical and otherwise?
I mostly listen to classical music but sometimes the pop shows we perform get stuck in my head. The Elton John and ABBA shows got me listening to that music for a while. I also listen to KPOP (don't judge me!)