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Faculty & Staff Profiles

Jonathan Ovalle

Assistant Professor of Percussion


Jonathan Ovalle is a percussionist whose concerts and collaborations feature an array of musical aesthetics. As a performer, he is both a committed interpreter of contemporary art music as well as an inspired jazz/world percussionist and drummer. Ovalle has performed and presented masterclasses in North America, Europe, and Asia, and most recently served on the faculty of the International Percussion Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland in August 2017. He has been a featured artist at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, has served as a judge for the Thailand Drumline Competition, and has also been a featured clinician at the Ohio, Tennessee, Quebec, and Emory University Days of Percussion.

Along with percussionist Neeraj Mehta, he is currently one half of the chamber duo PERCUNOVA. The duo gave its international concert debut in July 2014 at the Thailand Brass and Percussion Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, followed by a concert/clinic tour of India. The duo’s current work is focused on concertizing and developing a body of new repertoire that stands at the nexus of contemporary chamber percussion music and Afro-Cuban percussion traditions.

Ovalle has performed with the Sarasota Opera, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Brass Band of Battle Creek, New Music Detroit, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. As a drumset and world percussion 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, and Tim Whalen. He currently leads his own Afro-Cuban trio/quartet featuring him as a drummer and composer.

Ovalle 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. His research interests include kinesiology/motor coordination; utilizing the body’s natural physics to create greater efficiency 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 organization and learning processes and their role in effective practicing. A sought-after educator, he is inspired by the unique puzzle each student presents and finds motivation in helping them overcome both technical and mental roadblocks – unlocking each students’ full potential.

Born in Mexico City, Ovalle grew up in Houston, TX and is a graduate of the U-M where his former teachers included Michael Udow, Julie Spencer, Salvatore Rabbio, Gerald Cleaver, and Michael Gould. He completed additional studies with vibraphonist Ted Piltzecker.

Ovalle has previously served as the director of percussion studies at the University of Toledo and as the director of percussion at the Plymouth Canton Educational Park. He is a proud artist/endorser with Pearl/Adams, Zildjian, Remo, and Innovative Percussion.

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