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 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 was awarded a 2008-2009 Faculty Fellowship from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and the 2015 Kerspit Artist in Residency Fellowship in Gent, Belgium. Mark also received an invitation for a radio broadcast performance at La Semaine du Son, Journée Radiodiffusion, in Bruxelles Belgium of his original composition for strings entitled Transformation of Stone, Other work includes six pending publications of original compositions for Marimba entitled Psalm, Despedidas, and Wooden Landscapes: IV Landscapes for Marimba. In the fall of 2012, Mark completed a collaboration with Fulbright SIR Scholar Mark Cloet (artist and sculptor). An exhibition entitled C. Stone was showcased at the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, TX. The exhibit ran from October 2012 through February 2013. Ramírez’s contribution to the exhibition was a two movement original composition entitled Transformation of Stone. The orchestral movements were recorded at Breed Music in Dallas, TX in collaboration with 2012 84th Oscar Academy Award Winner John Hunter.

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, Lisa 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 up-and-coming performers and educators. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at Western Oregon University, is a Founding Member of the International Percussion Institute and serves as the Principal Timpanist of the Salem Symphony. 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 new composers and the commissioning of new works throughout the Northwest region. To date, the PPG has aided in the creation of over sixty new works for chamber percussion ensemble. 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. 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 Contemporary Ensemble, FearNoMusic, The Bach Cantata Choir, The Portland Symphonic Choir and the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Additional performance credits include the Vancouver Symphony, Atlantic Symphony, the New Bedford Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Newport Symphony, ALEA III contemporary music ensemble and the Boston Civic Symphony. The Boston Musical Intelligencer called Whyte’s playing “a striking diversity of styles and spirit.” He has worked closely with composers William Kraft, Pauline Oliveros, Allen Strange, Stephen Taylor, Michael Johanson, Mendel Lee and Gabriela Lena Frank, among others. Chris has works published through Tapspace, MSC, Matrix, and Bachovich publishing companies, and can be heard on recordings from Pentatone Classics. Whyte has performed solo recitals and given masterclasses throughout the United States, UK and China, and has a true love of sharing his knowledge of the percussion field with students at all levels. In addition to his performing and teaching activities, Whyte is active in the marching percussion field, serving as Music Coordinator and Front Ensemble Arranger for the Oregon Crusaders Drum Corps. 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. Chris is a Yamaha Performing Artist, and proudly endorses Vic Firth Drumsticks and Remo Drum heads.

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.