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Jonathan Ovalle
University of Michigan - United States


Jonathan Ovalle is a dynamic and versatile percussionist, who’s performances and collaborations feature a diverse array of instruments, ensembles, and aesthetics. Born in 1976 in Mexico City, he grew up in Houston, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan where his teachers included: Michael Udow, Julie Spencer, Salvatore Rabbio, Gerald Cleaver, Michael Gould as well as additional studies with vibraphonist, Ted Piltzecker. 

As a concert performer and chamber musician, his experience includes performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Sarasota Opera, Brass Band of Battle Creek and the Detroit Chamber Winds as well as a recent collaboration with clarinetist/composer, Evan Ziporyn as a part of the Detroit New Music annual marathon - Strange Beautiful Music. He has numerous performances as a featured artist at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) most recently, in 2013, on a concert featuring new works for world percussion soloists and chamber percussion ensemble and was also recently featured as a soloist at the Texas Bandmasters Convention. As a drumset and jazz artist, he has been privileged to share the stage with 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 both a performer as well as a composer/arranger. 

Active as a composer and arranger, his percussion arrangements for the production of Ballroom with a Twist, created by Dancing with the Stars pro Louis Van Amstel, is currently touring and receiving performances by symphony orchestras across the United States and Canada including the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic. His concert percussion music is published by Tapspace Publications and Living Sound Triangles. His most recent composition, Triangulation, is a solo work scored for 4 triangles and was created as part of a unique project led by Mark Berry (owner of Living Sound Triangles) who commissioned several composers to create solo pieces featuring the triangle as the primary instrument.

A passionate pedagogue, he finds motivation in unlocking students' potential by helping them overcome technical and mental roadblocks to assist them in becoming creative, technically-sound, musically-sensitive musicians. His central philosophy works to create an interconnected web of skills and concepts that can be cross-applied in numerous areas of percussion in an effort to create the “total percussionist.” 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 is currently an Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance where he serves as co-director of the University’s famed percussion ensemble, director of the Latin Jazz Ensemble and director of the MPulse Summer Percussion Institute, a two-week intensive for high school percussionists in grades 9-12. He has previously served as the Director of Percussion Studies at University of Toledo and the Plymouth Canton Educational Park. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and is an artist/endorser with Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Remo, and Innovative Percussion. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI, with his wife Lisa, daughter Cate, and their three dogs.  


University of Michigan Percussion Studio

Equipment Configuration


Artist Classic 5.0 Octave Marimba

Artist Vibraphone

Philharmonic 5x14 Aluminum SD

Philharmonic 4x14 Aluminum SD

Philharmonic 4x13 Maple SD

MCX Maple Kit (20" BD, 14" Floor Tom, 10" Rack Tom)

Vision Birch Bop Kit (18" BD, 14" Floor Tom, 12" Rack Tom) 

900 Series Hardware