Pearl Drums
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Jonathan Ovalle
University of Michigan - United States


Drummer/Percussionist, Jonathan Ovalle, is a dynamic performer whose concerts and collaborations feature a diverse array of influences and aesthetics. He is an engaging interpreter of contemporary art music as well as an equally inspired jazz/pop/world percussionist and drummer. 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.

His latest project is PERCUNOVA, a new chamber duo with percussionist Neeraj Mehta. The duo gave its concert debut in July 2014 at the Thailand Brass and Percussion Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, followed by a concert/clinic tour of India. Ovalle can be heard performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Brass Band of Battle Creek, New Music Detroit, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. As a drumset and jazz 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 as well as a composer/arranger.

As a composer and arranger, his percussion arrangements for the production of Ballroom with a Twist, is currently touring and receiving performances by symphony orchestras across the United States and Canada including: Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Calgary Philharmonic. His concert percussion music is published by Tapspace Publications and Living Sound Triangles.

He has presented workshops and masterclasses in North America and Asia, has been a featured artist at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and has served as a judge for the Thailand Drumline Competition. As a sought after studio teacher, he finds motivation in unlocking students' full potential by helping them overcome both technical and mental roadblocks. He works to assist them in becoming self-confident, technically-sound, musically-engaging musicians. 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. His current research interests include kinesiology/motor coordination - utilizing the body's "natural physics" to create greater efficiency of movement and more depth of tone, snare drum performance and pedagogy as a vehicle to developing "universal technique" on all percussion instruments, as well as memory and learning processes and their role in effective practicing. 

He 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, a two-week intensive for high school percussionists in grades 9-12. He has previously served as the Director of Percussion Studies at the 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.


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