Skip to content

2016 Guest Artists

Josh Quillen (So Percussion)

Photo Credit: Janette Beckman

Photo Credit: Janette Beckman

Josh Quillen has forged a unique identity in the contemporary music world as all-around percussionist, expert steel drum performer (lauded as “softly sophisticated” by the New York Times), and composer. His collaborations with other composers frequently incorporate the steel drums as a core element.

A member of the acclaimed ensemble So Percussion since 2006, Josh has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Lincoln Center Festival, Stanford Lively Arts, and dozens of other venues in the United States. In that time, So Percussion has toured Russia, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany, and Scotland. He has had the opportunity to work closely with Steve Reich, Steve Mackey, Paul Lansky, David Lang, Matmos, Dan Deacon, and many others.

Josh started performing on the steel drums at Dover High School in Ohio, an interest that continued at the University of Akron, where Dr. Larry Snider founded one of the first collegiate steel bands in the United States. He traveled to Trinidad & Tobago in 2002, performing with the “Phase II Pan Groove” ensemble under Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. This interest in the traditional steel drum music of Trinidad ran in parallel with Josh’s education in western music, first at Akron, and then at the Yale School of Music with marimba soloist Robert Van Sice, where he received his Masters degree in 2006.

These parallel interests led Josh to break ground in the use of the steel drums in contemporary classical music. To date, he has commissioned over a dozen pieces for steel drums from composers such as Stuart Saunders Smith, Roger Zahab, Dan Trueman, and Paul Lansky. In 2010, Steven Mackey’s quartet It Is Time – commissioned for So Percussion by Carnegie Hall and Chamber Music America – featured Josh on a new microtonal lead pan in its Carnegie Hall premiere, receiving rave reviews in the New York Times.

Josh’s compositions for So Percussion are featured in Imaginary City, an evening length work that appeared on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2009 Next Wave Festival, as well as the site-specific Music for Trains in Southern Vermont. Other ensembles to play his pieces and arrangements include Matmos, PLork, The Janus Trio, Adele Meyers and Dancers, The University of Akron Steel Band, and the New York University Steel Band.

An avid educator, Josh is a performer-in-residence at Princeton Unviversity with So Percussion, as well as co-director of the So Percussion Summer Institute, an intensive workshop for college-aged percussionists on the campus of Princeton University. He is also co-director of the percussion program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and is the director of the New York University Steel Band.

John Kilkenny (George Mason University)

new headshot

John Kilkenny enjoys a multi faceted career that includes work as a performer, conductor, educator and arts administrator. Currently, John is Director of Percussion Studies and conductor of the Symphonic Winds at George Mason University. He also coordinates and oversees recruitment efforts and initiatives for the school of music and is the artistic director of the Mason Percussion Group. Under his direction, the group as toured the Pacific Northwest to perform at the Western International Band Conference and has enjoyed featured appearances at the Virginia Music Educators Conference, College Music Society Mid Atlantic Conference and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Mason Percussion Group recently performed and presented clinics at the National Conservatory in San Jose, Costa Rica.

As a performer, John has be hailed by the Washington Post as a “ Particularly fine timpanist”, and enjoys a career that includes orchestral performances with the Washington National Opera and Ballet, Washington Concert Opera, Cathedral Choral Society, National Symphony Washington Chorus, Choral Arts Society, and virtually every other Washington DC area performing arts organization. A champion of contemporary music and an active chamber music performer, he collaborates regularly with Folger Consort, Washington Bach Consort, The Verge Ensemble, 21st Century Consort, and the National Gallery New Music Ensemble. He has commissioned and premiered numerous works over his career by composers as diverse as Peter Erskine, Don McCullough, and Alenjandro Vinao. Michael Daugherty’s UFO percussion concerto, Raise the Roof concerto for timpani, and the Philip Glass Concerto Fantasy for two timpanists and wind symphony are among his recent concerto appearances.

During the summer months, John serves as Artist-in-Residence at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival and the Music for All Summer Symposium. From 2005-2007 John was Co-Director and program coordinator for the University of Maryland Summer Percussion Workshop and served in a similar capacity for the Indiana University Percussion Academy from 2008-2010. Recently, he founded and serves as the director of the George Mason Summer Percussion Academy, which serves as the only comprehensive summer percussion-training academy in the region. The Academy offers students daily hands on performance opportunities in concert, chamber, solo, drumset, afrocuban, and marching percussion, along with steel pan ensemble and classes in college audition prep and career development.

Sought after as a clinician and guest conductor, he has appeared at the Juilliard Summer Percussion Academy, John Philip Sousa Foundation National High School Honor Band, the Western International Band Conference, The Virginia Music Educators Conference, The Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, and at numerous universities and Days of Percussion throughout the country. John is a Yamaha Performing Artist and proudly sponsored by Vic Firth mallets, Zildjian cymbals, and Remo percussion products.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.