The Eastman Percussion Studio has a long and prestigious legacy dating back to the 1920s. Michael Burritt is only the third professor in the history of the school and his predecessors include legendary percussionists and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame members John Beck (1962 – 2008) and William Street (1927 – 1967). Eastman has graduated some of the most successful and influential percussionists in the history of the instrument. Names such as Alan Abel, John Beck, Bob Becker, Michael Burritt, Patsy Dash, Bill Cahn, Steve Gadd, Fred Hinger, Chris Lamb, Stanley Leonard, Dave Mancini, Duncan Patton, Mitchell Peters, Gordon Peters, Gordon Stout, Leigh Howard Stevens, and John Wyer represent percussion leaders in virtually every aspect of the field.
Percussion Studio History
Large Ensemble Experience
The percussion students all participate in the school’s outstanding ensembles. There are 2 orchestras (Philharmonia and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra), 2 wind ensembles (The Eastman Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra) and Musica Nova (New Music Ensemble). Placement in the ensembles is determined through a screened orchestral audition process given twice a year (Fall and Spring Semesters).
Classes in Percussion
Students attend a weekly studio class where they perform in solo settings and experience lectures on topics such as practicing, interpretation, excerpts and more. Michael Burritt teaches Percussion Pedagogy Class and Percussion Literature Class in alternating years and John Beck, Professor Emeritus, teaches a History of Percussion Class in the fall semester.
Percussion students study primarily with Professor Michael Burritt (Internationally recognized percussion soloist and chamber musician, recording artist and composer.) Students are also provided the opportunity to have lessons with our distinguished adjunct percussion, Charles Ross (Timpanist with the Rochester Philharmonic), James Ross (Percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Rich Thompson, (Drum Set faculty for the Eastman Jazz Department and former drummer with the Count Basie Band). This extraordinary group of artist-teachers provides the Eastman students with one of the most prestigious and diverse percussion faculties in the world.
The Eastman Percussion Ensemble, directed by Michael Burritt, is an integral part of the curriculum. The chamber percussion experience is essential to the percussionists’ training and allows the students to experience repertoire from the contemporary genres to that of world music and improvisation. This coming summer the ensemble will release a CD in collaboration with Third Coast Percussion featuring the music of Alejandro Alejandro Viñao.
Professor Burritt has also commissioned New Zealand composer, John Psathas, to compose a new work for solo marimba, percussion quartet, and electronics to be premiered by Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble in 2020. This past September, the Eastman Percussion Ensemble performed Steve Reich’s Drumming coached by artist in residence and co-founder of NEXUS, Russell Hartenberger. This February, Eastman percussion students performed and
recorded Eastman alumnus, Baljinder Sekhon, Gradient 2.0 with guest saxophone of the “Pershing’s Own” Doug-O’Connor. The ensemble also premiered a new work by Eastman Professor Brad Lubman this past November.