The Silver Anniversary season of the Tonto Community Concert Association is quickly coming to a close.
One of the last performances for this year will be with Paul McDermand, a percussionist, Friday, March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Payson High School auditorium.
Enhanced by classical guitar, grand piano and full orchestration, McDermand's exuberant steel drums and soft, sensual marimba, lead the listener through a vast array of standard, classical and popular works.
McDermand began his musical career in the Chicago area. One of his early instructors was the premier freelance percussionist in the city. Recognizing McDermand's unusual gift, he selected the then-19-year-old to take over the percussion duties on a popular theatrical production playing in one of Chicago's better theaters.
Sensing the young artist's apprehension, his mentor intoned, "You have nothing to worry about. The star of the show is exactly your age, and he's not nervous, so why should you be?" The show was called "The Magic Man," and that other 19-year-old was David Copperfield.
In 1981, McDermand moved to the Phoenix area. His reputation as a percussion specialist created an instant demand for his services in every area of the music world.
In the years that followed, McDermand's innovative artistry was to become a feature of major film scores, commercial jingles, symphonic productions and stage shows of all kinds.
The list of popular entertainers with whom McDermand has performed is vast, including such luminaries as Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett and Sheena Easton, in addition to super groups such as The Temptations and The Moody Blues.
In 1993, he received a call from New York, where a revival tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ, Superstar," with the stars of Norman Jewison's 1973 film reprising their roles, stood poised to tour the United States, Canada and Europe. McDermand joined the touring company, anchoring the rhythm section during sold-out performances.
At the conclusion of the tour, McDermand began to develop a variety of instrumental arrangements featuring his steel drum and marimba artistry. He moved "center stage" in 1995 with his first release, "Romanza," followed by "Sailing" in 1997.
Popular pianist Roger Williams, upon hearing them, wrote the following to McDermand, "If you don't stop making these beautiful recordings, you're going to put me out of business!" Despite Williams' plea, two more recordings were released in 1999.
With his rising demand as a concert artist, McDermand appears both as leader of his own ensemble, and as a guest soloist with the finest symphony orchestras.
Alongside the noted guitarist Esteban, McDermand has, for 15 continuous years, proudly performed at the elegant Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch.
There is one remaining concert in the 2003-2004 series. It is scheduled for Friday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Payson High School auditorium. The final program of the Silver Anniversary series features pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi.
Individual tickets are available at the door for $20 per person.
For more information about individual and series tickets, the current or upcoming series, call (928) 478-4363 or (928) 474-6723. Further information is also available at the TCCA website, www.tccarim.org.