Artist Spotlight: Derek Dreier

This week’s Artist Spotlight features a prominent member of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, which was recently awarded Down Beat Magazine’s “Outstanding Performance Award.” Derek Dreier is a senior percussion performance major from Iowa City, Iowa, and has been in LUJE for the past two years.
Having been in the world of percussion since high school, Dreier credits his family with giving him his musical inspiration. “My dad is a drummer, and teaches at the University of Iowa,” he said. “In fact, most of my aunts and uncles are amateur musicians, so there is a lot of family influence.”
Dreier decided to come to Lawrence after seeing Fred Sturm guest conduct his all-state jazz band in high school. “I loved the way he taught,” he said. “And I knew that he would be someone that I could learn a lot from.”
Besides his family, Dreier claims drummers Bill Stewart and Dave King as his two biggest inspirations. “I’m drawn to their creativity, musicality, sound and concepts,” he said.
“Both of them are totally unique musicians, which is essential for an artist. I strive for that kind of personal sound, where people could identify me in a second.”
As for the Down Beat award that LUJE received, Dreier was clearly proud of the accomplishment.
“I think it’s great and well deserved,” he said. “Lawrence — being a small Midwest conservatory — can easily fall under the radar compared to some of the bigger east and west coast schools.”
Dreier added, “This proves that we can hang with anyone. It’s a tremendous confidence boost and positive reinforcement for all the work this band has done.”
“The other musicians in the band are all incredibly dedicated,” he said. “And they are talented students who push each other to great achievements like this award.”
Besides LUJE, Dreier is also active in the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, the Percussion Ensemble, and the Mark Urness Sextet.
After Lawrence, Dreier plans on attending Indiana University to get a master’s degree in percussion performance. “I was also lucky enough to be offered an Associate Instructor position,” he said. “So I’ll be teaching lessons and directing the world drumming ensemble.”
“After that, I’ll probably track down Adam Meckler and beg him for gigs,” Dreier said. “And hopefully continue my classical percussion career.”
Dreier’s senior recital will take place on Sat., May 26 at 1 p.m., featuring members of LUJE.