Joseph Gramley’s dynamic and exciting performances as a soloist, chamber musician, collaborator, director and large ensemble player have garnered critical acclaim and enthusiasm from conductors, arts presenters, composers, percussion aficionados, and first-time concertgoers alike.
His first solo record American Deconstruction, an expert rendition of five milestone works in the modern multi-percussion canon, was released in 2000 and reissued in 2006. A second solo record, Global Percussion, was released in 2005. His latest work includes a film performance of the Milhaud Percussion Concerto, released in 2013. Joseph Gramley is a tenured music professor and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he directs the famed Michigan Percussion Ensemble.
“A Heifetz of the marimba”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
An invitation from Yo-Yo Ma in 2000 led Gramley to join Mr. Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. In 2015, Gramley was named Associate Artistic Director of the group. In addition to participating in the group’s extended residencies in American cities, Gramley has toured with Mr. Ma and the Ensemble throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Along the way, 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. He has appeared on several top-selling albums with Yo-Yo Ma on the SonyBMG label, including the Grammy Award winning "Songs of Joy and Peace" Gramley has also appeared with Yo-Yo Ma as guest artists with the Nashville Symphony. Gramley was on the first rotation of the Silk Road Ensemble Leadership Council, which he chaired. A Silk Road Ensemble 15th anniversary DVD was released in 2013 and a feature film/documentary, 'The Sound of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble', will be released in 2016, directed by Oscar-winner Morgan Neville.
In addition to his solo and work with Silk Road, as well as his frequent chamber music and orchestra appearances, Gramley performs with the acclaimed British organist Clive Driskill-Smith in their duo, Organized Rhythm. After releasing their first record in 2008, Beaming Music, they appeared across the US and at two AGO conferences. Gramley is the Principal Percussionist and Timpanist with the NYC based orchestra, The Knights. After graduate studies, he performed and recorded with the Ethos Percussion Group throughout the U. S. and Europe.
After winning the Houston Symphony National Soloist Competition, Joseph Gramley made his debut with that orchestra in 1992. Gramley's solo recital debut came at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 1994 after winning the East & West Artists International Competition.
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 continued on to do his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan where he was awarded the University's highest honor in music: The Albert A. Stanley medal. Gramley is the only percussionist in the history of the institution to receive this honor. Gramley went on to do his graduate work at Juilliard where he was named departmental assistant in 1998. He has also studied at the Tanglewood Institute, Marlboro Music Festival, Spoleto Festival and the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 2000, Gramley was appointed director of the Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar.
Joseph Gramley has performed with: the Metropolitan Opera (on stage with Placido Domingo), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (US tour), Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Chicago Symphony Orchestra (soloist), St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (guest principal timpanist and percussionist), Seattle Symphony, Orchestre de Lyon, Dawn Upshaw (US tour), David Robertson (Carnegie Hall), Spoleto Festival (soloist), Martha Graham Dance Company, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Glen Velez (US tour), Keiko Abe (PASIC), Aretha Franklin, Elton John (at Radio City Music Hall and on worldwide TV and DVD).
“Tremendous vitality, character and sophistication”