Lamar Burkhalter, founder of Percussion One Foundation, has received the Yamaha Legacy Award, which recognizes the contributions of distinguished figures in the field of music and music education. He has been a Yamaha Artist for 28 years.
Percussion One, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, is a not-for‐profit music education organization that serves middle and high school students. They perform at Houston Texans home football games and at college football bowl games, have appeared on stage with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Keith Urban and Shania Twain, served as an opening act for Blue Man Group and Stomp and toured Russia and Germany.
“I literally did not know I was receiving the award until they presented it to me right in front of my parents, students and the audience, and I was told right on stage that I had been selected for the Legacy Award,” Burkhalter says. “It was in front of all my participants, so it was a great moment.”
As part of the award, Yamaha donated a new rosewood marimba valued at $9,000 to Percussion One—a particularly timely gift since the group suffered a burglary and lost nearly $12,000 worth of equipment earlier this year.
“It’s unbelievable and one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had bestowed upon me,” Burkhalter says. “I’ve won various contests and such, but this is probably the single biggest career achievement. I’m blown away. I am humbled by it.”
Burkhalter is also the music director for the Houston Texans and director of its Deep Steel Thunder Band. He manages the many rock, country and folk acts that perform at the games and around the stadium.
“Lamar earned this Legacy Award for taking the initiative to establish one of the nation’s premier percussion education organizations that has enhanced the lives of all of the performers who passed through the program,” said Troy Wollwage, marketing manager of percussion instruments at Yamaha Corporation of America, in a press release. “He seamlessly meshes music education with life lessons, works tirelessly to improve his program every year and gives his performers the ability to play in venues that they would never be able to otherwise.”
Up next for Burkhalter? Fundraising. Percussion One has been invited to perform in a two-week tour of Melbourne, Australia, in July 2015.