Our Team

is comprised of artists and mentors that are highly regarded performers and educators, passionate arts advocates and leaders in their respective communities.


Mark Joseph Ramírez is Professor of Percussion and Area Coordinator at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Associate Director of the School of Music, and is the Founder and Executive Director of the International Percussion Institute. As an artist, Mark has performed and collaborated under the direction of some of the leading musical authorities in the field of composition, including Pulitzer Prize-winning composers John Corigliano, David Del Tredici and William Bolcom and Prix de Rome recipient Kevin Puts. He has performed with internationally acclaimed jazz and classical artists Ernie Watts, Eddie Daniels, Greg Abate, Jeff Jarvis, Dick Oats, Steve Wiest, Gordon Stout, Phil Smith, and performed as a guest Soloist with the Rio Grande Valley Symphony Orchestra.

As a scholar, Mark has received invitations to present and perform at the International Conference on Caribbean Studies, the Southwestern Conference on Latin American Studies, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. In addition, Mark presented a lecture-recital tour of the Pacific Northwest which included performances at Portland State University, University of Oregon, and Western Washington University; served as a Resident Faculty at the International Percussion Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland; and given performances at the IPI Faculty Concert at King's College Chapel in Aberdeen, Scotland. Mark has been a member of the IPI Marimba Competition review panel and a panel member for the IPI Call for Scores. These competitions have developed outreach in composition and performance that included participants from Sweden, Austria, Copenhagen, Belgium, Russian, Portugal, Italy, England, Scotland, Israel, Taiwan, Argentina and the United States.

Mark has also been the recipient of a Faculty Fellowship from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, a Faculty Fellowship for Student Academic Success from University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the Kerspit Gent (X, Y)-honor Artist in Residency Fellowship awarded by the Kerspit Foundation. Mark’s Artist in Residency included a three month stay in Gent, Belgium where he collaborated with other Kerspit Artists in Residence, faculty of The Royal Conservatory of Music, the Kunstencentrum Vooruit, and the Academie de Kunstbrug Gent. During that time, he composed and gave international premiere performances of five new compositions entitled: Ganda, Tabula Rasa, Versplinteren Verhalen, Binnen du Tuin, and Klokken van Begijnhof. Dr. Mark Joseph Ramírez is a native of Brownsville, Texas.

Lisa Nicol is the visiting tutor for percussion at the University of Aberdeen and is a Founding Member of the International Percussion Institute (IPI). As an advocate for the arts and new music for percussion, Lisa has commissioned pieces for percussion by composers David Lang and Martin Bresnick. Lisa has performed extensively throughout the Europe, Asia, and the United States. Prior to her appointment at Aberdeen, Dr. Nicol was head of the percussion department at Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, Texas. Lisa received degrees from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland (BA Music) and The University of Texas at Austin (MM & DMA Music Performance). and is an educational artist for Vic Firth mallets and sticks and Zildjian cymbals.

Percussionist Christopher Whyte has emerged as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most engaging performers and educators. He is currently Acting Head of Percussion Studies at Portland State University where he oversees all aspects of the percussion program. He is co-founder of the Portland Percussion Group, a contemporary percussion quartet based in Portland, Oregon which strives to foster and promote percussion performance through engaging concerts and educational outreach. The Portland Percussion Group is active in developing relationships with emerging composers and the commissioning of new works throughout the Northwest region. To date, the PPG has fostered the creation of over sixty new works for chamber percussion ensemble.

Dr. Whyte is also co-director of the Portland Summer Percussion Academy, a residential summer camp for high school percussionists focusing on a broad range of western and non-western percussion styles, as well as a founding member of the International Percussion Institute which takes place each summer at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

He performs frequently in the Portland area as a freelance percussionist and timpanist with The Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera Orchestra, Oregon Ballet Theater, Third Angle New Music, FearNoMusic, The Bach Cantata Choir, The Portland Symphonic Choir and the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Additional performance credits include the Vancouver Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Atlantic Symphony, the New Bedford Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Newport Symphony, ALEA III contemporary music ensemble and the Boston Civic Symphony. He has performed at the New York International Fringe Festival, as part of the Makrokosmos Project, Astoria Music Festival, Oregon Music Festival, the Oregon Coast Music Festival, and the Northwest Percussion Festival. He has worked closely with composers William Kraft, Pauline Oliveros, Allen Strange, Stephen Taylor, Michael Johanson, Mendel Lee, Sarah Hennies, and Gabriela Lena Frank, among others and is personally active in the commissioning of new music for percussion. Chris has works published through Tapspace, Matrix, and Bachovich publishing companies, and his compositions have been performed at the Midwest Clinic and the Music for All National Chamber Music Festival. He has performed live broadcasts on All-Classical Portland’s 89.9 radio station and was a featured performer for All-Classical’s 2017 Solar Eclipse broadcast of Desmond Earley’s Body of the Moon. Chris can also be heard on Grammy-nominated recordings by the Oregon Symphony from Pentatone Classics.

Whyte is active in the Percussive Arts Society, having served as a member of the Percussion Ensemble Committee since 2015. He has also presented or performed at CMS, and the Northwest regional NAfME conference.

Chris has performed solo recitals and given masterclasses throughout the United States, Canada, the UK and China, and has a true love of sharing his knowledge of the percussion field with students at all levels. Whyte earned degrees at the University of Oregon as a student of the late Charles Dowd and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance from Boston University, where he was a student of Boston Symphony Principal Timpanist Timothy Genis. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist, and proudly endorses Vic Firth Drumsticks, Remo Drum Heads, Zildjian Cymbals, and Black Swamp Percussion Instruments. Chris lives in Newberg, Oregon with his wife Charlotte, their son Forrest, and their Akita, Decan.

There are storied educators, and there are dynamic performers, and then there are those who are destined to be both. Always in search of new music and new ways to share it with others, Thomas Burritt is today's percussionist. He has received degrees from Ithaca College School of Music (BM – Education and Performance), Kent State University (MM), and Northwestern University (DMA). Active in the creation and performance of new music for percussion Burritt has built a reputation in chamber music, as a percussion soloist and a concert marimbist. He has performed regularly at the Leigh Howard Stevens International Marimba Seminar and was a featured faculty performer at the 2007 and 2009 Zeltsman Marimba Festival. In April 2004 Burritt performed in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as member of the Hammers and Sticks Ensemble. Later the same year the Hammers and Sticks Ensemble released a CD on the Innova label featuring works by Steven Mackey, Zhou Long, Alvin Singleton, Alex Shapiro, Joseph Harchanko and Belinda Reynolds.

As Percussion Soloist Burritt has been active performing percussion concertos by Maki Ishii, Steve Mackey, Joseph Schwantner, Michael Dougherty, David Maslanka, John Mackey, and James MacMillan. Burritt has recorded for guitarist Eric Johnson and recording artist David Byrne. Burritt's first solo CD recording: "All Times Identical - New American Music for Marimba" was released in November 2006. His 2nd solo marimba recording "Groundlines" is available in iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Rdio and Spotify. In August of 2015, Burritt released his latest recording via YouTube, featuring a video album of J. S. Bach's 5th Cello Suite performed on the Marimba. In 2009 and 2016, Burritt performed on two Grammy nominated recordings: "Conspirare in Concert" and "Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings", both distributed world wide on the harmonia mundi label. In the spring of 2012, Burritt was cited as being one of "The most influential Music Professors on Twitter”(follow @tburritt). He is currently Professor of Percussion and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is a clinician/endorser for Majestic Percussion, Innovative Percussion, Zildjian, Remo, Beetle Percussion, and Grover Pro Percussion.

Percussionist, Jonathan Ovalle, continually seeks to explore and engage the percussive art in every manner possible. As a performer, he is a both a committed interpreter of contemporary art music as well as an inspired jazz/world percussionist, drummer, and improviser. He is currently one half of the chamber duo, PERCUNOVA, along with percussionist, Neeraj Mehta. The duo gave its international concert debut in July 2014 at the Thailand Brass and Percussion Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, followed by a concert/clinic tour of India. The duo's current work is focused on concertizing and developing a body of new repertoire which stands at the nexus of contemporary chamber percussion music and Afro-Cuban percussion traditions. He is also a member of Ensemble Duniya, a collective of five percussionist/composers, who create and perform new works featuring world percussion soloists within chamber percussion settings.

As a concert/chamber musician, he has performed with the Sarasota Opera, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Brass Band of Battle Creek, New Music Detroit, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. As a drumset and world percussion artist, he has shared the stage with artists such as Jon Hendricks, Vic Juris, Roland Vazquez, Ann Hampton Callaway, David Hazeltine, Phil Markowitz, Harold Danko, Stephanie Nakassian, Gunnar Mossblad, Tim Whalen, and currently leads his own Afro-Cuban trio/quartet featuring him as a drummer and composer. Active as a composer, his concert works are published by Tapspace Publications and Living Sound Triangles. He has presented masterclasses in North America and Asia, has been a featured clinician and performer at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and has also served as a judge for the Thailand Drumline Competition.

Ovalle is currently an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, where he serves as a director of the University's famed percussion ensemble, director of the Latin Jazz Ensemble, and director of the MPulse Summer Percussion Institute. His research interests include: kinesiology/motor coordination - utilizing the body's natural physics to create greater efficiency and more depth of tone, snare drum performance and pedagogy as a vehicle to developing universal technique on all percussion instruments, and memory organization and learning processes and their role in effective practicing. He is a proud artist/endorser with Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Remo, and Innovative Percussion.