Assistant Professor of Music, Co-Coordinator of Percussion
Office: 1198 Moore
Jonathan Ovalle is assistant professor of music and co-coordinator of the percussion program at the University of Michigan where he serves as the co-director of the University's famed percussion ensemble and director of the Latin jazz ensemble. Additionally, he is is a faculty associate in the Latino/a studies program. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, his primary teachers include Michael Udow, Julie Spencer, Salvatore Rabbio, Gerald Cleaver, and Michael Gould, as well as additional studies with Ted Piltzecker.
Known for his remarkable versatility and percussive diversity, Ovalle has made a career combining the worlds of symphonic, jazz, chamber, solo, marching, pop, and world music, playing into an aggressive mix with few musical boundaries. Born in 1976 in Mexico City, Mexico, Ovalle grew up in Houston, TX.
Recently, Ovalle participated in a showcase concert at PASIC 2012 in Austin, Texas featuring new and lesser-known literature for keyboard percussion. Performing alongside colleagues Brian Zator, Gene Koshinski, and Matthew Coley, he premiered three new works: Dioramas for Prepared Vibraphone which he commissioned from New York-based composer, Aaron Siegel; his own Danza Furioso for xylophone soloist and marimba trio; and Hans Mange Graevold's Ludus for marimba quartet. Active as a solo, symphonic, and chamber performer, he has performed with the Sarasota Opera, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in addition to recent solo recitals at the Toledo Museum of Art and the Juilliard School.
As a drum set/jazz artist, Ovalle has been privileged to share the stage with artists such as Jon Hendricks, Vic Juris, Ann Hampton Callaway, David Hazeltine, Phil Markowitz, Harold Danko, Stephanie Nakassian, Tim Whalen, and Gunnar Mossblad. He has performed at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, Lansing Jazz Festival, Birmingham Jazz Festival, Jazzloop, and the Art Tatum Jazz and Heritage Festival.
An active composer and arranger, Ovalle's Three Movements for Conga Soloist and Percussion Trio, featuring Neeraj Mehta as soloist, had its premiere in 2012. Other recent composition/arranging projects include Epic Proportions for percussion ensemble, commissioned by the Texas A&M University-Commerce Percussion Ensemble, premiered at PASIC 2010 in Indianapolis, as well percussion arrangements for the production Ballroom with a Twist, created by Dancing with the Stars pro Louis Van Amstel, which is currently touring the United States. In 2013, Ovalle will participate in a unique project led by U-M Percussion alumnus Mark Berry (owner of Living Sound Triangles), who is commissioning several composers to create solo recital pieces featuring the triangle as the primary instrument.
A passionate pedagogue, Ovalle finds motivation in unlocking students' potential by helping them overcome personal, technical, and mental roadblocks in assisting them to becoming creative, technically sound, musically sensitive, self-sufficient musicians. His central philosophy works to create an interconnected web of technical and musical concepts that can be applied in any area of percussion playing and any genre of music. He also works to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurialism and self-advocacy in his students when it comes to building and maintaining a successful career in music and the percussive arts. He has recently presented workshops at the Juilliard School, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Oakland University, Bowling Green State University, and Eastern Michigan University.
Ovalle has previously served as the director of percussion studies at the University of Toledo (2006-2011) and as the former percussion coordinator/arranger for the Plymouth Canton Educational Park in Canton, MI (2001-2006). He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and is an artist/endorser with Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Remo, and Innovative Percussion.
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