Materials that Matter: Cultivating a Musical Tradition with Found Objects

Friday, 10 November 2023
2:15-3:45 pm, Governor’s Square 14
Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel


The purpose of this lecture-recital will be to examine the role and context of “found objects” in the solo percussion repertoire. The classification of “found objects” are often open ended and frequently conflated with junk percussion or other commonly found household objects. Much of this stems from the varying goals of any given piece and what the objects are meant to achieve or represent in the piece’s context.

The recital features four pieces that illustrate the different ways found objects have been utilized in the percussion repertoire to showcase their own timbral qualities in addition to transforming those qualities for a larger narrative purpose. The use of natural and artificial materials further underpins the theme of “materials that matter” as these works often examine how humans leverage found objects for their artistic goals.


Luke Helker is a percussionist and educator in Lawrence, Kansas. He recently graduated with his DMA in Percussion Performance from the University of Kansas. He is also the Adjunct Percussion Professor at Benedictine College.

He has had the pleasure of performing with world-renowned musicians including members of yarn/wire, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and So Percussion. Luke also values music as a vehicle for activism and has established Ears to the Earth, an annual concert program that both celebrates music about nature and commissions new works to emphasize current attitudes towards our climate.