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Jonathan Ovalle
University of Michigan - United States


Jonathan Ovalle is assistant professor of music and co-coordinator of the percussion program at the University of Michigan where he serves as Co-Director of the University's famed percussion ensemble, Director of the Latin Jazz Ensemble, Director of the MPulse Summer Percussion Institute and also as a faculty associate in Latina/o studies program. Known for his remarkable versatility and percussive diversity, he has made a career combining the worlds of symphonic, solo, chamber, jazz, pop, marching and world percussion playing into an aggressive mix with few musical boundaries. His primary teachers include: Michael Udow, Julie Spencer, Salvatore Rabbio, Gerald Cleaver, Michael Gould and additional studies with Ted Piltzecker. 

Born in 1976 in Mexico City, Mexico, Ovalle grew up in Houston, TX.  

As a percussionist/collaborator, in 2010 he participated in a large-scale film project with artist, Matthew Barney along with 4 other percussionists in Barney’s KHU from his epic-film opera Ancient Evenings. The percussionists were featured in numerous on-screen scenes as well as collaborated on the film’s soundtrack with composer, and long-time Barney collaborator, Jonathan Bepler. As a symphonic artist, he has performed as a member of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra as well as in recent performances with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. As a drum set/jazz artist, he has been privileged to share the stage with the legendary Jon Hendricks, Vic Juris, Ann Hampton Callaway, David Hazeltine, Phil Markowitz, Harold Danko, Stephanie Nakassian, Tim Whalen, and Gunnar Mossblad and can be heard on the latest release by Bobby Streng’s House Big Band, a live recording entitled, Getting Housed. 

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. More recently, his Danza Furioso for xylophone soloist and marimba trio, premiered at PASIC 2012, is to be published by Tapspace publications. His work, Three Movements for Conga Soloist and Percussion Trio, written for Neeraj Mehta, also premiered in 2012 and will receive a showcase performance at PASIC 2013. Other composition projects include Epic Proportions, a drumset and marimba co-feature with percussion quartet commissioned by the Texas A&M University-Commerce Percussion Ensemble and is the title track on their most recent recording entitled, Epic Proportions. His most recent composition, Triangulation, is a solo piece scored for 4 triangles. The work was created as part of a unique project led by Mark Berry (owner of Living Sound Triangles) who commissioned several composers to create solo recital 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, self-sufficient 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. 

His has recently presented workshops at the Juilliard School, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Oakland University, Bowling Green State University, and Eastern Michigan University. 

He 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) where he was also on staff as the drumline arranger and instructor from 1995-2001. He is a member of the Percussive Arts Society and is an artist/endorser with Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Remo, and Innovative Percussion. 


University of Michigan Percussion Studio

Equipment Configuration

Reference Series Drum Set
18" BD, 12" Tom, 14" Floor Tom, 13x6 Snare
900 series hardware
Horacio Hernandez Signature Cowbells
Pearl Philharmonic 14x5 Solid Shell Snare Drum

Adams Artist Vibraphone
Pearl Folkloric Congas
Pearl Elite Brass Timbales 14"/15"