Meet the Judges

Dr. Brian Zator – Audio Round Judge

Dr. Brian Zator is the Head of Percussion at Texas A&M University-Commerce, having joined the faculty in 2001. He holds degrees from Baylor University, the University of Michigan and the University of North Texas, and is also a student of world-renowned marimba artist, Keiko Abe. Dr. Zator has performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), TMEA, TBA, Midwest, conventions and festivals across the United States, at Carnegie Hall, and abroad in Brazil, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and China. He has two CD’s released on Equilibrium Records: “Zamiki: Music for Solo Marimba” and a chamber-works CD entitled, “Zoomorphs”.

Active within the Percussive Arts Society (PAS), he currently serves as President. He has also served as President-Elect, Secretary, on the Board of Directors, and on the Keyboard and Percussion Ensemble Committees. Dr. Zator was a contributing author for the New Literature Reviews for Percussive Notes and has adjudicated the PAS International Percussion Ensemble, Composition, and Solo Marimba Competitions.

Providing instructional materials for marimba and keyboard students, Dr. Zator wrote a keyboard method book, “Keyboard Fundamentals with Play-Along Tracks”, published by Innovative Percussion, and is the primary keyboard artist for the iBook publications by Pocket Percussion Teacher. He is Chair of the Texas Prescribed Music List (PML) Percussion Committee that regularly edits, updates and revises the primary percussion solo and ensemble list used by high schools across Texas and the country. Dr. Zator is a performing artist and clinician for Dynasty/Bergerault, Innovative Percussion, Sabian, Evans, and Black Swamp Percussion.

Dr. Zator’s students are perennial winners at PASIC competitions, winning the College Keyboard category 5 of the last 8 years, the College Multiple-Percussion category three times, the Timpani category, and the Small Ensemble Competition. The A&M-Commerce Percussion Ensemble was one of the three winners of the prestigious PAS International Percussion Ensemble Competition and performed a showcase concert at PASIC 2010.  The ensemble also presented a concert at PASIC 2006, featuring works of Minoru Miki, and has released two CD’s since 2007. His students have earned graduate assistant positions at prestigious programs across the country and are becoming successful professionals in their chosen fields.

Dr. Zator is also heavily involved in his community, currently in his second term as a School Board Trustee for the Royse City Independent School District. He was one of the Co-Captains for the Davis Elementary All Pro Dad Chapter, having served in this role for the past eight years. Invited by members of the City Council, Dr. Zator serves as Chair of the Royse City Comprehensive Plan Action Committee, and has presented at the Chamber Luncheon and town forums. He is also a member and plays drumset at the Fellowship Church-Royse City.


Ji Hye Jung – Live Round Judge

Percussionist Ji Hye Jung has been praised as “spectacular” by the Los Angeles Times and “extraordinary” by the Ventura County Star, with the Timesfurther describing her as “a centered player who can give the impression of being very still yet at all places at once.”

Jung began concertizing in her native South Korea at the age of 9, going on to perform more than 100 concerts, including solo appearances with every major orchestra in Korea. Soon after coming to the United States in 2004, Jung garnered consecutive first prizes at the 2006 Linz International Marimba Competition and the 2007 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition.

With percussion repertoire still in its formative stages, Jung feels strongly about collaborating with composers to further the creation of a new voice for the art form. She has commissioned and premiered works by several important composers, including Kevin Puts, Alejandro Viñao, Paul Lansky, John Serry, Lukas Ligeti, and Jason Treuting. In 2013, she made the premiere recording of Michael Torke’s marimba concerto Mojave, and in 2014 recorded Phillip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra for the Naxos label.

Jung frequently performs with many of today’s most important conductors and instrumentalists. For nine years she has served as principal percussionist with West Coast chamber ensemble Camerata Pacifica, with whom she has premiered works by Bright Sheng and Huang Ruo. She has also recorded Stravinsky’s Les Noces with JoAnn Falletta at the Virginia Arts Festival, performed as soloist with David Robertson conducting an all-Messiaen program at Carnegie Hall, and made her concerto debut with the Houston Symphony under the baton of Hans Graf in 2005.

Other performance credits include appearances at Portugal’s Tomarimbando Festival, New Music Indaba in South Africa,the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Ireland, The Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, the Grand Teton Music Festival, Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and the Grachtenfestival in Holland.

In 2015, Jung was named Associate Professor of Percussion at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. She previously served as Associate Professor of Percussion at the University of Kansas for six years. An active educator and clinician, Jung has presented master classes at the Curtis Institute, the Peabody Conservatory, Rice University, Beijing’s Central Conservatory, and the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland.

Jung completed a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, both under the tutelage of Robert van Sice. As an artist endorser, she proudly represents Pearl/Adams instruments, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, and Zildjian cymbals.

She-e Wu – Live Round Judge

She-e Wu has appeared as a solo artist at the 25th, 27th, and 30th Percussive Arts Society International Convention; Journées de la Percussion, NancyPhony Festival, perKumania festival, and PercuPassion Festival in France; Bach Symposium/Bach Variation Festival in Lincoln Center; Taiwan Connection concert at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center; International Percussion Festival and InterAmerican Music and Arts Festival Orchestra in Puerto Rico; Festival Internacional de Percusion “Ritmo Vital 2001” and National Percussion Convention in Spain; Fukui Marimba Seminar in Japan; Giornate della Percussione in Italy; Percussion Festival in Greece; Taipei International Percussion Convention, and many other festivals. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Center, Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Series in Pearlman Hall at the Kimmel Center. Ms. Wu has performed as guest recitalist and clinician at universities, colleges, and conservatories in France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Greece, Japan, and Korea, as well as American music institutions and numerous PAS Days of Percussion throughout the United States.

Ms. Wu’s composition Blue Identity was written for Frederic Macarez and the Paris Conservatory CNR percussion ensemble. Blue Identity was premiered in Paris at the Journées de la Percussion festival, and the American premiere took place at the 27th Percussive Arts Society International Convention. K-PAX, a piece for marimba duo, was commissioned by the Taipei International Percussion Convention in 2002 and was premiered in Taiwan and Japan. UP!, for solo percussion and seven percussionists, received its premiere at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December 2009. The world premiere of Ms. Wu’s latest composition, What the Sun Would Say to the Sky, for marimba quartet, was premiered at PASIC 2011 in Indianapolis.

Ms. Wu has commissioned and premiered numerous works by Eric Ewazen, Ronald Caltabiano, Robin Engleman, Gerald Chenoweth, and many others. Ms. Wu’s recent commissions are pieces written by Lee Hyla, Paul Lansky, and Dafnis Prieto. The world premiere of the percussion concerto with wind ensemble written by Paul Lansky is scheduled for January 2015 with the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Ms. Wu has served as a judge for the Paris International Marimba Competition, Greece International Competition, Italy International Competition, Atlanta Snare Drum Competition, PASIC Marimba Competition, P.A.S. Composition Competition (Large Percussion Ensemble), and International Percussion Ensemble Competition (College).

Ms. Wu’s recordings include Marimba Concerto by Eric Ewazen with the International Sejong Soloists, solo marimba CD Snapshot, Suite for Marimba and Flute by Alec Wilder with flautist Bart Feller, A Set of Songs and Dances by Doug Hill featuring Gail Williams on horn, and a chamber music recording with the American Brass Quintet of music by David Sampson. Her recording of Nos. 1, 2, and 3 of the Six Suites for Solo Cello by J. S. Bach, with Baroque embellishments by George B. Stauffer, was released in fall of 2014.

Ms. Wu is a clinician and recitalist for the Majestic, Mapex, Innovative Percussion, and Evans and Zildgian companies. Her signature mallets with Innovative Percussion are available worldwide. She plays on a concert marimba of her design by Majestic. Ms. Wu is associate professor of music and the head of the percussion program at Northwestern University.

Dr. David Steffens- Live Round Judge

Dr. David Steffens – Live Round Judge

Dr. David Steffens is principal percussionist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. He is a recording artist, clinician, educator and champion of new music who has directed the percussion program at the Bass School since 1997.

As a founding member of the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble, Steffens is featured on four internationally released CDs on the DMP recording label — Different Strokes, The Gamut, The World Music Tour, and Lift-Off – and on Albany Records’ The Percussion Music of David Maslanka. A Percussive Notes review of Different Strokesdeclared: “This might well be the most artistic balance and blend of percussion music ever recorded.”

In 2005, Steffens recorded Lost Luggage – a five-movement work for solo marimba he commissioned from composer Edward Knight – for the CD Where The Sunsets Bleed, also released by Albany.

Steffens has performed with the Midland Symphony, West Shore Symphony Orchestra, Greater Lansing Symphony, Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Schlossfestspiele in Heidelberg, Germany. He is a frequent guest artist and has presented master classes and percussion clinics on campuses nationwide.

Under Steffens’ leadership, Oklahoma City University’s Percussion Ensemble has performed works ranging from a Red Norvo tribute in Austin to a regional premiere of Stravinsky’s Les Noces to a Maslanka work at the national SCI convention. He has built collaborative partnerships with local artists. In 2004, the Percussion Ensemble appeared with Canterbury Choral Society and Ballet Oklahoma in Tango Take Three, at Oklahoma City’s historic Civic Center.  Rick Rogers of The Daily Oklahoman singled out the percussionists for special praise: “An unexpected surprise was the OCU Percussion Ensemble, an accomplished group of instrumentalists ably directed by David Steffens. Many in the audience were no doubt unfamiliar with the myriad sounds capable of such a group, but multiple mallet keyboards produce impressive sonorities that turned their featured number into a showstopper.”  In 2005, the Percussion Ensemble reprised its collaboration with Canterbury to power the “World Harmonies” concert at the Civic Center.

He received his Performer’s Certificate and his DMA from Eastman School of Music. He is a faculty member at the Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain and has taught at Michigan State, Central Michigan University, and the Eastman School of Music. He is president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.

He is an artist/clinician for Black Swamp Percussion, Bosphorus Cymbals, Vic Firth, and Yamaha.