"Tremendous vitality, character, and sophistication" is how conductor Christoph Eschenbach describes the playing of multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley.  Multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley is a professor of music at the University of Michigan and a 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 concert-goers 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. A YouTube performance of the Milhaud Percussion Concerto will be released in 2013.

An invitation from Yo-Yo Ma in 2000 led Gramley to join Mr. Ma’s SilkRoad 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).  “A Playlist Without Borders” was just released on Sony (Sept 2013)  Gramley has also appeared in with Yo-Yo Ma as  guest artists with the Nashville Symphony. Gramley was on the first rotation of the SilkRoad Ensemble Leadership Council, which he chaired. A Silk Road 15th anniversary DVD was released on Sept 24, 2013 and a documentary  (The Sound of Silk ) will be released in October 2014 and is directed by Morgan Neville (20ft from Stardom).

joe article2

In addition to his solo and SilkRoad 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. They’ve appeared across the US and at two AGO conferences.

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 chamber orchestra in both the United States and Europe.

joe article3Born 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 conducted by Christoph Eschenbach 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 U. S. and Europe.

Joseph Gramley has directed the Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar for 13 years. This is an intensive program for high-school students, and is held annually at Lincoln Center in New York City.  Gramley has been  featured at many state PAS Days of Percussion and presents masterclasses across the world.

New York Times

"A Heifetz of the marimba"
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Tremendous vitality, character and sophistication"
Christoph Eschenbach