Opera Philadelphia / West Chester University
Ralph Sorrentino is the Director of Percussion Studies at West Chester University, where he teaches applied percussion and directs the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble. Ralph also serves as Principal Percussionist with Opera Philadelphia and Section Percussionist with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra. Ralph’s work with Opera Philadelphia includes critically acclaimed performances at Philadelphia’s historic Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater. Ralph was principal percussionist for Opera Philadelphia’s April 2016 New York premiere performances of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, which marked the first time that opera was performed on the Apollo Theater stage.
Ralph also performs as a substitute percussionist with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has performed under the batons of many of the world’s great conductors (Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kirill Petrenko, Jaap van Zweden, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Michael Tilson Thomas) in some of the world’s great concert halls (Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Ravinia Festival, and the Bravo! Vail Festival). Ralph has also performed with the Russian National Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Philly Pops, and the Delaware, Harrisburg, and Bay Atlantic Symphonies. Ralph has performed for several international dignitaries, including HRH Prince Charles and Pope Francis.
Ralph, along with flutist Sophia Anastasia, is a founding member of Electrum Duo. The Duo’s November 2008 New York City debut at Bargemusic was favorably reviewed in the December 1, 2008 edition of The New York Times. Music critic Steve Smith commented that “the Electrum players were persuasive advocates: Ms. Anastasia played with brightness and vigor, while Mr. Sorrentino pattered across drums, cymbals and woodblocks with an impressive feeling of flow.” Mr. Smith also commented that “the playing had an air of conversational spontaneity; each performer seemed to finish the other’s statements now and then...[Ms. Anastasia’s] vitality was neatly balanced by the graceful efficiency with which Mr. Sorrentino choreographed his manifold tasks throughout the evening. Perhaps it was the ability to play against type that made these players cohere so effectively.” Electrum Duo has presented recitals in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia. The Duo’s debut album, introductions, was released in October 2011 and is available on iTunes and Amazon.com. introductions was reviewed in the July 2012 edition of Percussive Notes, where critic John Lane commented that “the performances are tight and excellently crafted: a high standard of a chamber music execution in which both musicians get to flex their skill...What [introductions] does best is showcase the talent of two extraordinarily talented performers who have cultivated a strong musical connection.” Electrum Duo’s second album, Thoughts, was released in November 2015 and is available on Apple Music and Amazon.com. Thoughts was reviewed in the May 2017 edition of Percussive Notes, where critic Justin Alexander commented that “there is plenty of music to showcase this duo’s versatility and excellence in performance. The recording quality is superb, and each player delivers thoughtful, musical, and sensitive performances throughout an array of repertoire.” In May 2011 the Duo premiered JLS, a ballet by award-winning composer Robert Maggio, in collaboration with Roxey Ballet Company of Lambertville, NJ. In 2015 Electrum Duo commissioned noted composer Maurice Wright’s Duo Fantasia, gave the premiere performance in March 2017, and later recorded Duo Fantasia.
Ralph’s debut solo percussion album, multiplicity, was released in October 2014 and is available on iTunes and Amazon.com. As a solo artist, Ralph gave the 2003 world premiere performance of composer Robert Maggio's Songs from the Wood (for solo marimba) after playing an integral role in the commission and development of the work. Ralph has performed as a concerto soloist with the Immaculata Symphony, West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, University of Delaware Percussion Ensemble, and Messiah University Percussion Ensemble. Ralph was named National First Runner-Up at the 1999 MTNA Collegiate Artist Percussion Competition in Los Angeles, CA, after winning the competition’s state and northeast regional levels. Ralph has recorded percussion tracks for NFL Films, including music that has been heard on the national television broadcasts of Super Bowls XL through LIV. Ralph has recorded for Ondine Records, Telarc, Bridge Records, and Innova Recordings. Ralph performed on Interchange, a Telarc recording collaboration between the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and the Delaware Symphony, which was nominated for a 2010 Latin Grammy Award.
Ralph joined West Chester University’s percussion faculty in August 2004. He has presented clinics and masterclasses at a number of colleges and universities, and he served as a panelist for the final round of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2013 Albert M. Greenfield Student Competition. Ralph’s undergraduate percussion students have been admitted to a variety of prestigious graduate schools, and his high school percussion students have been admitted to top conservatories and universities.
An active member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Ralph currently serves on the PAS Symphonic Committee. Ralph served as a panelist for the PAS Symphonic Committee’s PASIC 2017 panel discussion (Fitting In: Working as an Extra) and he served as an adjudicator for the PASIC 2017 symphonic mock audition.
Ralph holds an Ed.D. in Policy, Planning, and Administration from West Chester University, an M.M. in Orchestral Performance from Temple University, and B.M. (Music Performance) and B.S. (Music Education) degrees from West Chester University. His principal teachers include Alan Abel, Matthew Strauss, and Chris Hanning.
Ralph is a performing artist and clinician for Pearl Drums and Adams Musical Instruments, SABIAN cymbals, and Innovative Percussion.