Joseph Gramley


Has played with The Knights since: 2009. I had worked with Colin and Eric previous in Silk Road, and was lucky enough to meet other members over the years in various other iterations.

Favorite Knights moment: I have a lot of favorite Knights moments—Ravinia in 2011 was a great deal of fun. I'd have to say, however that the Dresden Frauenkirche performance in 2009 was a true highlight for me. Those two shows are indelibly printed in my psyche.

Multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley is a professor of music at the University of Michigan and director of the university’s famed Percussion Ensemble.

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, an expert rendition of five milestone works in multi-percussion’s huge new modern repertoire, appeared in 2000 and was reissued in 2006. His second CD, Global Percussion, was released in 2005.

An invitation from Yo-Yo Ma in 2000 led Gramley to join Mr. Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. 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, performing in the world’s finest concert halls. 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, and with other members of the Ensemble on the recent Off the Map (In a Circle Records). In November 2008, Gramley and Yo-Yo Ma performed together and guest artists with the Nashville Symphony.

In addition to his solo and Silk Road 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, was issued in 2008.

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), Kayhan Kalhor, Alim Qasimov, Wu Tong, Sandeep Das and numerous others. Since 2009 he has performed and toured with The Knights in both the United States and Europe.

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 and 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. After graduate studies at the Juilliard School in New York, he performed and recorded with the Ethos Percussion Group throughout the US and Europe.

Joseph Gramley’s Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar, an intensive program for high school students, is held annually at Lincoln Center in New York City. During 2009-10, Gramley is the featured guest artist for both the New York and Alabama Days of Percussion sponsored by the Percussive Arts Society.

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