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The Beat Goes On for Music Major Rhan

Adam Rhan
Adam Rhan

Chicago might be Frank Sinatra’s “Kind of Town,” and a hit for him in the mid-60s, but the song also served as a musical vehicle for Keene State senior J. Adam Rhan II’s three-minute drum solo during a late fall semester tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes by the College’s Jazz Ensemble. The percussionist mesmerized the audience and his fellow band members, inspiring longtime KSC professor and ensemble director Don Baldini to comment, “I think he’ll be able to get work.”

“I said it jokingly, but I was also serious,” said Baldini, who knows a thing or two about music, having worked on the Tonight Show and played and toured with legends like Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Tony Bennett. “He does have what it takes.”

“Adam is a very humble young man. And yet he plays an instrument that is anything but subtle,” said Baldini. “It’s a rare quality to have somebody who plays that instrument and still has the humility to listen to what other people tell you.”

Originally from Londonderry, NH, Rhan grew up in a musical family and worked hard to fine-tune his passion. In addition to diligently working with Londonderry High School Band Director and 1972 KSC grad Andy Soucy, Rhan attended the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp, where he was able to rub elbows with renowned drummer Peter Erskine. At Londonderry High, Rhan not only served as a drumline section leader and senior captain, but also got to perform with the band at the Rose Bowl Parade and President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.

Soucy called him a standout. “This is a kid who was thirsty to learn, had a natural intuition and a burning desire to play,” said Soucy, who has been at LHS for 44 years.

Rhan spent a semester at the Berklee College of Music in Boston before transferring to Keene State. Rhan felt KSC was place where he could learn and grow. “There were fewer students at Keene State, so I could stand out and have more performing opportunities.”

Rhan also sustained a high cymbal beat for several of his KSC professors including Chris Swist, Scott Mullett, and Baldini. He’s currently setting the stage for his final performance at Keene State, a senior recital on March 5. “I understand that they want quality,” said Rhan. “Just because this is Keene State doesn’t mean you can’t perform like you’re from Julliard. I want to exceed those expectations. I want to show these guys that they can really rely and count on me—that’s what fueled me here.”

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