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Music & Artists

Silk Road Ensemble members rehearse a new musical work at a commissioning workshop.


Collaborative process
Silk Road Ensemble members rehearse a new musical work at a commissioning workshop at Tanglewood Music Center. Retreats and workshops provide an opportunity for Silk Road Ensemble members to develop music for a wide range of instruments.

Joseph Gramley


"Composers have long looked outside their own borders for inspiration - think of Ravel hearing Indonesian music at the 1889 World's Fair, or Henry Cowell's youthful exposure to Chinese opera in San Francisco - but today's imaginative cross-currents are more fluid than ever. And no music is more global than percussion; drums and blocks and bells seem to be ubiquitous."


Joseph Gramley

Percussion, composer (United States) Multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley's dynamic and exciting performances as a soloist have garnered critical acclaim and enthusiasm from emerging composers, percussion aficionados and first-time concertgoers alike. He is committed to bringing fresh and inventive compositions to a broad public, and each year he commissions and premieres a number of new works. His first solo recording, American Deconstruction, a rendition of five milestone works in multi-percussion's huge new modern repertoire, appeared in 2000 and was reissued in 2006. His second, Global Percussion, was released in 2005.

Gramley has studied percussion styles and instruments from around the globe, collaborating with internationally renowned musicians from India, Iran, China, Japan, Korea and Central Asia. In addition to his solo and Silk Road Ensemble work, as well as his frequent appearances with chamber groups and orchestras, Gramley performs with the acclaimed British organist Clive Driskill-Smith in the duo Organized Rhythm. The pair's first recording, Beaming Music, will be issued in the fall of 2008.

Joseph Gramley has performed with the Metropolitan Opera (on stage with Placido Domingo in Tan Dun’s The First Emperor), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (U.S. tour), Detroit Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York City Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra (soloist), Seattle Symphony, Orchestre de Lyon, Dawn Upshaw (U.S. tour), David Robertson (Carnegie Hall), Musicians From Marlboro, Spoleto Festival (soloist, chamber music and orchestra), Martha Graham Dance Company, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Eos Orchestra, Renee Fleming (in recital), Glen Velez (U.S. tour), Keiko Abe (PASIC), Aretha Franklin, Elton John (at Radio City Music Hall and on worldwide TV and DVD), George Benjamin, Bright Sheng and numerous others.

Productions on Broadway include Miss Saigon, Jekyll and Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, Caroline or Change, and The Color Purple. Gramley's compositions have been performed at The Juilliard School, Rhode Island School of Design, Art Institute of Chicago and Queens College.

Born in 1970, Gramley grew up in Oregon and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts while a senior at the Interlochen Arts Academy in 1988. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, where he was a student of Michael Udow and Salvatore Rabbio and was a recipient of the Albert A. Stanley Medal. He has also attended the Tanglewood Institute and Salzburg Mozarteum.

Gramley made his concerto debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra after winning their National Soloist Competition, and made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 1994. He did his graduate studies at the Juilliard School in New York where he studied with Gordon Gottlieb and Daniel Druckman and received both the Goodman and the Khomanoff scholarships. Upon finishing his graduate studies, Gramley performed and recorded with the Ethos Percussion Group throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Joseph Gramley is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Percussion Ensemble at the University of Michigan. Committed to outreach and education, he is director the Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar, an intensive program for high-school students held annually at Lincoln Center in New York City, and is on the Faculty of Idyllwild Arts Festival In California.

Gramley has performed with the Silk Road Ensemble since its inception in 2000. He brings a Western, classical, conservatory-trained approach to the eclectic group and his association with it has gained him new facility with percussion styles and techniques from across the globe. Two of Gramley’s own compositions have been written for the Ensemble: Rio-nji (premiered February 2006, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island) and Blue and White (premiered April 2007, Art Institute of Chicago).

He appears on the Silk Road Ensemble’s albums When Strangers Meet, Beyond the Horizon, New Impossibilities and Off the Map.