On June 14, 2012, Bob Cole Conservatory faculty member Dr. Michael Carney passed away from a long battle with cancer. On that day, I lost a colleague, friend and mentor. It is still hard to believe that Michael is gone, but I truly treasure all of the time I had to spend with him. I learned more than more than just music from Michael. My only hope is that I can be such an influence on as many people as Michael was. I will miss Michael, but I will continue to teach, play, direct and mentor current and future percussion students just Michael did with me and my fellow percussionists.

Today, we are celebrating Michael’s life with a memorial concert in the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at CSU, Long Beach. There will be performances by the CSULB World Percussion Group (performing West African and Brazilian Samba music) Pandemonium Steel Drum Band (Michael’s professional group), Noelle Carney, and Lucky7 Latin Jazz.

Below is a tribute that Carolyn Bremer, chair of the Music Department, wrote after Michael’s passing:

Dr. Carney was Director of Percussion Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory for thirty-one years. He taught generations of percussionists and directed the World Percussion Group, Steel Drum Orchestra, and the Drums and Drummers Project. He taught classes in World Music required for all music majors and also open to the entire university.

Michael traveled the world performing, teaching, and studying. His performance expertise ranged from classical to jazz, and included musical instruments and styles from West Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil. In the summer of 2005, Michael completed his first jazz concert tour of Brazil, performing vibraphone and steel pan in concerts. His concert in Rio de Janeiro was honored by the Jazz Society of Rio de Janeiro as the #2 International Jazz Concert of the Year (Wayne Shorter was #1) and Carney was named as the #3 International Jazz Musician of the Year (tied with Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove).

He was founder and director of the World Percussion Project, a program that took American professionals, students, and teachers abroad for intensive study of music and culture. The project has taken participants to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and Ghana, West Africa. His musical journeys also took him to Spain, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Trinidad, the Philippines, and Thailand.

As a classical percussionist he performed with the North Carolina Symphony, Pacific Symphony, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Carney was been featured as a steel pan soloist with several symphony orchestras including the Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Tulsa Philharmonic, Modesto Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Wichita Symphony, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra performing his own compositions.

Michael Carney was born in 1952 in Palmyra, New York. He earned degrees in percussion performance from East Carolina University, the Eastman School of Music, and North Texas State University. He also studied at the International Center for African Music and Dance in Ghana, and the Oficina de Investigaçaõ Musical and Rio Gruppo Percussaõ in Brazil. He is survived by his wife Grace and their daughter Jasmine, Nikolaus and Noelle and their mother Jann, his mother Jan, stepmother Shirley, brother Brian, and sisters Debbie and Tricia.

Originally posted on DrummChattr.com on July 7, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

Dave Gerhart

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