Welcome to the Oberlin Percussion Department Website!
"Teaching is a collaborative venture between student and teacher"
" What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)"
" Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion"-Weilhelm Friedrich Hegel, philosopher"
"Most people don't realize it," he says, but Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen knows that "percussion is more than just rhythm."
"The goal of music is to organize and produce sounds in such a way that they express shades of emotion."
"It's not about being a great percussioinist but rather always striving to become a great percussionist."
"The most important thing is the persuit of knowledge; the knowledge itself is a by product."
"Every musician discovers at some point that they have some flaw. It is the act of finding a creative way of overcoming this shortcoming that produces a great artist."
"I've taught many students who will carry something of me to places I will never reach."
To watch a video interview with Mr. Rosen CLICK HERE
Check out this video of the Oberlin Percussion Group:
April 14, 2015 - Oberlin Percussion Group Concert @ Warner Concert Hall
To Be Announced
Chris Anthony'88 breaks the Guiness Record for a drum roll!
Chris Anthony raised over $12,000 for the National Multiple Scelerosis Society recently by playing a
continuous roll for a record 4 hours, 6 minutes and 10 seconds which breaks the previous record of just over 1 hour.
Titled The Beat Rolls on-The World's Longest Drum Roll for Charity was a great success. Go to YouTube at
DRUM ROLL to see the record making event. We are proud of Chris and his "Oberlin Spirit to do good."
Jennifer Torrence'09 wins a spot at the Lucerne
In addition to winning a spot in the Lucerne Festival Jen also received a Fullbright to study for a year in
England. She had already gotten into Steve Schick's studio at USC in San Diego and will defer going to grad
school until she gets back from England.
Jon Hepfer'o8 wins a spot at the Lucerne
John began his percussion studies at age twelve under the tutelage of a local percussionist, Todd Proctor in Buffalo, NY. After two years, he began studying with Jason Higgins with whom he focused on snare drumming. Mr. Higgins encouraged him to audition for an all-state ensemble where John learned about the North Carolina School of the Arts. After attending a summer program at the School of the Arts, John was accepted to and enrolled in the school where he studied orchestral percussion with John R. Beck and participated in the school ensembles such as the symphony orchestra, the wind ensemble, and the percussion ensemble. For the summer of 2005 he attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute for both the percussion session and the Young Artists Orchestra. While at Tanglewood, John studied with Dan Bauch and Sam Solomon. He also participated in master classes led by Timothy Genis, Will Hudgins, Frank Epstein, and Glen Valez. At the conclusion of the two-week percussion seminar, he won the mock orchestral audition and then John auditioned for and was accepted to six of the most prestigious music conservatories in the country including Curtis Institute in Philadelphia before deciding to attend Oberlin.
Raise Money for Alzheimer's Association
Michael Lehman'06 and Aaron Williams'07 raised over $4000 for the Alzheimer's
Receives 2004 ASCAP Award
in concert tour of Ohio and Indiana. They are founders of a group called Reach
Fusion which includes
Anne Ristocelli, viola and pianist Seungku Lee. The group played concerts in
Akron, Bucyrus, Cleveland, Oberlin and Lorain, Ohio in addition to Quincy, Illinois.
Percussionist Adam Slinwinski'01 and his quartet, So Percussion, received the
2004 Chamber Music America/ASCAP award for adventurous programming and, in February
2005, second place in the Luxembourg International Percussion Competition. The
ensemble has performed in such venues as the Miller Theatre, Merkin Hall, the
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Museum of
Art. Their debut at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in January premiered a concerto
for percussion quartet and orchestra by Carlos Carillo; New York Times' critic
Anthony Tommasini called the ensemble "brilliant". Adam is studying in the DMA
program at Yale, where the group was formed in 1999. The group's second CD,
Steve Reich's Drumming, was released by Cantaloupe Music in March and is available
at many record outlets as well as on the group's wesite: www.sopercussion.com.
Performs in New York
Percussionist Justin Hines'95 and violinist Machiko Ozawa are JUSTADUO, presenting
original contemporary chamber music inspired by world music, jazz and the avant
garde. Since 2001, they have performed several times in New York including Carnegie
Hall's Weill Recital Hall, HERE performance space, and Riverside Church. They
have also performed in Japan at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan. During the 2003-4 season,
JUSTADUO was chosen to represent Lincoln Center in a series of outreach programs
in children's hospitals and senior homes. Syrenes, JUSTADUO's concerto for violin,
percussion and orchestra was commissioned by the the North Shore Symphony Orchestra
and premiered in spring 2004
Wins Presser Award
This year's winner of the Theordore Presser Award is percussion major Matthew
Jenkins'06 of Minneapolis, MN. "My project is designed to compare the philosophies
and aesthetics of the ancient and modern traditions of Buddhism in the works
of Jonathan Harvey, Helmut Lachenman, John Cage and Kaija Saariaho," says Matt.
He will use the award to fund transportation to Japan and Europe and for lodging
in two Buddhist monasteries--one in the US and the other in Japan--and to conduct
research and interviews in Europe. He has also been accepted to the Akadamie
Schloss-Solitude's International Master Class for Young Composers in Stuttgart.
Each year the Presser Foundation awards scholarships grants and funds specifically
to further the cause os music education and music in America.
Wins Seat in Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra Again!
Ross Karre ’05, a percussion performance major, was selected to participate
in the 2004 Lucerne (Switzerland) Festival Academy Orchestra and will participate
again during the summer of 2005. Acclaimed conductor Pierre Boulez is the
festival’s music director as well as principal conductor of the festival
academy orchestra. Karre will be in Lucerne from Aug. 28 to Sept. 17. He was
chosen by the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the festival’s ensemble-in-residence.
Karre’s reaction to the good news?
“ I am excited because the opportunity is awesome, relieved because
I put quite a lot of time and effort into the audition CD, and stunned because
the age cut-off is 28, and I’m only 20,” he says. For the audition
recording, Karre played the obligatory repertoire: Jacob Druckman’s
Reflections on the Nature of Water, Nos. 1 & 4, Philippe Manoury’s
Le livre des claviers, No. 4, solo de vibraphone, and Elliott Carter’s
Eight Pieces for Timpani, No. 1. Candidates were also allowed one piece composed
after 1950 of their choosing. Karre selected Karlheinz Stockhausen’s
Kontakte for Piano, Percussion, and Electronic Sounds, which he had recorded
with pianist Michael Gallope ’03 for an honors recital earlier this
“ The required pieces were extremely difficult, and in some case, not
pieces commonly performed in America. I spent about three hours a day for
three months working on the repertoire, and I recorded the required pieces
in Kulas Recital Hall over an 18-hour period Jan. 2 and 3 this year. I then
picked the best takes from about 100 complete takes and sent the CD off to
All Karre’s expenses, including air travel, room, board, and tuition,
will be paid by the Festival Academy.
“ I auditioned for Lucerne because I admire Pierre Boulez and I love
the complexity and conceptual nature of new music, especially the new music
that we will be playing at the festival—a very intense program by such
composers as Harrison Birtwistle, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Harvey, and
Franco Donatoni,” says Karre, who studies with Professor of Percussion
Michael Rosen. “I hope to learn about how the new music of Europe is
interpreted in Europe. I believe that the proliferation of this music is vital
to the advancement of music as an art.”Karre wrote an article for the
April 2003 issue of Percussive Notes about practice techniques using Rosen’s
methodology. Rosen has shown him the importance of deeply examining a piece
of music, he says.
“ Mr. Rosen constantly emphasizes the crucial part of music that is
far beyond the notes, rhythms, and dynamics,” he says. “That part
of music seems so important to him that he doesn’t even have a single
word to describe it. He calls it ‘drama,’ or ‘color,’
or ‘panache.’ Sometimes he just says ‘you know what I mean.’
And in the intellectual understanding that so many Oberlin teachers have with
their students, Karre does.
Captures Fulbright, Compares Approaches to Music History
A Fulbright Scholarship will allow Jill Lichtenwalner ’04,who recently
graduated Oberlin as a percussion performance and music history major, to
spend a year at the University of Bonn in Germany, where she will study differences
in German and American approaches to music history.
“ I believe this experience will be invaluable to my development as
both a person and a musicologist,” she says. “I am eager to study
intensely the repertoire of Beethoven, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. Engaging
in these intense studies will make me a stronger candidate for graduate school
in the future.”
Working with the music of these masters, Lichtenwalner plans to explore how
and why American scholarship—the roots of which were formed by German
musicology—has diverged and now encompasses broader fields.
For the complete story and photograph of Jill go to Jill
’04 writes article for Conservatory Magazine
The View from Here: A Window on Conservatory Life
Beyond Berlioz: A Cycle with the Oberlin Orchestra
The ensemble managers hurl chairs across the rehearsal room and assemble them
into some semblance of an orchestra plot. My fellow percussionists and I roll
in the timpani and set out bass drums, cymbals, and other accessories.
It’s the first Oberlin Orchestra rehearsal of the year. Along with the
prospect of our first concert a mere four weeks away, we’re looking
forward to the mid-semester opportunity to rehearse under Franz Welser-Möst
of the Cleveland Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle of the Berlin Philharmonic.
Despite the fact that percussionists function primarily on solo parts in ensembles,
Oberlin’s 12 student percussionists form a tight-knit group, and we
take time to help one another with everything from moving instruments to interpreting
music. We share our instruments, a hallway of practice rooms, and one studio.
We play together in all Oberlin’s ensembles, including the Oberlin Percussion
Group. On Tuesdays, we share dinner. Many of us live together, on and off
campus. This close proximity makes us more than mere colleagues.
Without question, the most unifying element of our studio is the excellent
instruction and mentoring of Professor of Percussion Michael Rosen. He leads
us through a well-structured, highly disciplined, four-year program of study
that is, nonetheless, also individually tailored to each student. In addition
to becoming familiar with important musical literature and learning the basic
techniques for snare drum, mallet-keyboard instruments, and timpani, we enter
a world of percussion pedagogy steeped in tradition because of his dedication
Oberlin bursts with opportunities for new music enthusiasts, and I’ve
immersed myself in the performance and creation of new works. In addition
to the standard repertoire learned in the orchestras, we become familiar with
20th-century classics and new works by student and professional composers
through our work with the Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble,
both directed by Associate Professor of Conducting Timothy Weiss. Because
of the superb musical direction here, I am becoming as comfortable with Birtwistle
as I am with Beethoven.
As the rehearsal continues, I become aware of his incredible attention to
detail of the conductor Steven Smith. His precise clarity in communicating
what he needs from the players is extraordinary. Although he sometimes speaks
while conducting, it’s more effective when he simply makes eye contact
with a violinist across the room, or nods his head in the direction of the
bassists. The atmosphere is fast-paced and utilitarian; we’re making
music, but Mr. Smith has very specific goals in mind.
At the end of our concert, the orchestra finished to wild applause. Along
with a great sense of accomplishment and plenty of adrenaline among the players,
there was the knowledge that our journey with this music was not yet over.
In the weeks to come, we would delve into two of the pieces again with our
two guest conductors.
In working with the Oberlin Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst focused especially
on the introduction and exposition of the Overture to Leonore. To achieve
the sound he wanted, he utilized descriptions from the plot of Leonore itself
to conjure the very specific emotions Beethoven expressed in his music. He
translated this especially to color and vibrato in the string section, and
to dynamic contrast, integrity, and intensity in the whole orchestra. He approached
the music as a literal interpretation of a story to be told beneath the surface
of the notes themselves; the orchestra’s main goal was to express the
drama through unified, emotional playing.
We addressed the concept of interpretation again when Sir Simon Rattle came
to work with the orchestra just a few weeks later. “So you played it
one way in your concert. Good!” he said. “Then last week, another
conductor did it differently. Great! And now here I am to show you third way.
Wake up! Communicate! Welcome to my world!”
Three different conductors, three very different approaches, all of which
pointed us toward a common goal: to take personal responsibility for our work
and invest the time and energy necessary for the collaboration inherent in
playing with an orchestra.
After the concert and the rehearsals with the guest conductors, I soberly
realized that my path with this music is just beginning. I feel the same way
about the end of my time at Oberlin. I have learned so much in four years,
and yet I am compelled to seek further, not settling for one simple solution
To read the entire article and to see a photograph of Bonnie go to Bonnie
wins Javits Fellowship
Ross Karre, percussion major of the class of 2005 has just won a Jabob Javits
Fellowship for graduate study. His major mentors at Oberlin have been Michael
Rosen, his percussion teacher, Tim Weiss, conductor of the Contemporary Music
Ensemble and Lewis Nielson, Professor of Composition. A native of Battle Creek,
MI, Ross has won numberous prizes for his percussion performance skills. He
attended Interlochen Arts Academy for one year where he studied with Amy Barber
and two sessions at the Interlochen Arts Camp where he studied with Keith Aleo.
Ross spent the summers of 2003 and 2004 at the Aspen Music Festival working
as a percussion equipment coordinator. In the fall of 2004 he played in the
Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. Ross is going on to a doctorate in music at
the University of California in San Diego where he will study with Steven Schick
and perform in the percussion group "Red fish Blue Fish". Ross hopes to persue
a professional career in either the orchestral field on in a contemporary chamber
The Javits Fellowship program provides financial assistance to students of superior
ability to undertake study at the doctoral level in selected fields in the arts,
humanities and social sciences. Fellowships offer up to four years of support,
covering tuition in addition to an annual stipend of $30,000. Ross is one of
only two successful people in a national pool of applicants winning the fellowship
in the category of Music Performance, Theory Composition and Literature.
I am very grateful for my former students John Tarcza '01 (a double degree Percusssion/Computer Science major now working in the tech world) who first constructed this site and then Zach Crystal '07 (went on to study with Alan Abel at Temple University) who maintained the site for several year afterwardss. The site was maintained by Jake Harkins '11 and Isaac Fernandez '12.