Meet the Judges

 

Christopher Deane- Audio Round Judge

 

Christopher Deane is a Professor of Percussion at the University of North Texas College of Music teaching orchestral timpani, mallets, and directing the UNT Percussion Players percussion ensemble. He holds performance degrees from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He studied with James Massie Johnson, former principal timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony and percussion with Allen Otte. He has also studied independently with Roland Kohloff, N.Y. Philharmonic, Eugene Espino, Cincinnati Symphony and Leonard Schulman, N.Y. City Opera.

Deane is currently Principal Percussionist with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra and is Principal Timpanist of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent performer with the Dallas Wind Symphony and has appeared on five recordings with that ensemble. Deane was the Principal Timpanist of the Greensboro Symphony for nine years and performed with the North Carolina Symphony for ten years. Deane has performed with numerous large ensembles including the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Ft. Worth Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Utah Symphony and Virginia Symphony working with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Loren Maazel, Andrew Litton, Jaap van Sweden, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and Keith Lockhart. His chamber music experience includes performances with the Percussion Group Cincinnati, Aeolian Chamber Players, Mallarme Chamber Players and the Philidor Percussion Group. He has appeared in more than seventy performances as a concerto soloist with either symphony orchestras or wind ensembles.

Deane was the faculty percussionist for the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine from 1982 to 1989. Over the course of those eight years Deane worked closely with composer George Crumb performing his music and serving as a consultant to Crumb for works including Idyll for the Misbegotten, Quest, and Haunted Landscapes. Deane served as a percussionist for the American Dance Festival from 1992 to 1996. He has also served as faculty percussionist for the Vale Veneto Music Festival in Brazil.

Deane has recorded as a timpanist, percussionist and Hungarian Cimbalom soloist. He is a featured concerto soloist on two UNT Wind Symphony recordings featuring the concertos of Joseph Schwantner, Russell Peck and William Kraft under the baton of Eugene Corporon. Deane has also recorded the music of Stravinsky with conductor Robert Craft for the Naxos Label, and has recorded with the Detroit Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Cincinnati Philharmonia, Mallarme Chamber Players, St. Stevens Chamber Orchestra and the Winston-Salem Symphony.

Deane has won both 1st and 2nd prize in the PAS Composition Competition. He studied Composition with Sherwood Shaffer, Robert Ward, and Charles Fussell, and independently with Ben Johnston. He has received numerous commissions including the Percussive Arts Society, University of Oklahoma, and the University of Kentucky. His music has been performed and recorded internationally and a number of his compositions have become standard literature on concerts and recitals worldwide. Deane has served two terms on the PAS Board of Directors. He is a clinician for the Bergerault/Dynasty Corporation, Black Swamp Percussion, Innovative Percussion and Sabian Cymbals.

Dr. Pius Cheung – Live Round Judge

 

Hailed by the New York Times as “deeply expressive” for his groundbreaking recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on solo marimba, Pius Cheung is widely known as a one of the most important percussionists of his generation. Highlights of his recent engagements include concerto appearances with the Edmonton Symphony (Canada), Opole Sinfonietta (Poland), Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, with whom he performed his arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for an audience of 20,000+. In addition, he has also presented solo recitals at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, National Concert Hall in Taipei, Kyoto Arts Center (Japan), as well as music festivals around the globe such as the Usedom Music Festival (Germany), Manchester Music Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Taiwan International Percussion Convention, Chiapas International Marimba Festival (Mexico), Drum Fest (Poland), Percussion Plus Festival (Denmark), Italy PAS International Percussion Festival, Osaka Percussion Festival and Shenyang International Percussion Festival (China).

His debut album of the complete Goldberg Variations by Bach on solo marimba was the first of its kind, and the only one to date. It was written about in a feature story in The New York Times, which praised not only the technical feat of performing the intricacies of this keyboard work with 4 mallets, but also expressed admiration for his “deeply expressive interpretation, notable for its clear voicing, eloquent phrasing and wide range of color and dynamics.” Since then, he has released another CD album, Symphonic Poem, featuring his own compositions. His latest recording of Colours of Crimson, a marimba concerto by the renowned composer, Bright Sheng, with the Hong Kong Philharmonic was released by NAXOS to critical acclaim.

An inspiring teacher to young percussionists, Mr. Cheung frequently serves as a competition judge at national and international competitions, as well as presents masterclasses at renowned institutions such as the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Amsterdam Conservatory, Paris Conservatory, Berklee Valencia, Toho Gakuen (Japan) and Beijing Central Conservatory.

Furthermore, he is one of the most sought-after composers for percussion today. His latest works include Scherzo for solo marimba, commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie in celebration of her 50th birthday; Heaven and Earth, a 20 minute tone poem for percussion ensemble written for the Ju Percussion Group; and marimba concerto, Princess Chang Ping, commissioned by Pei-Ching Wu and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Cheung was winner of the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. As a teenager, he has appeared as concerto soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra as winner of their annual concerto competition at the Kimmel Center, as well as toured as a concerto soloist in Canada, Australia and Russia, representing Canada at the World Music Forum 1998 in Moscow.

A native of Hong Kong, Mr. Cheung moved to Vancouver at the age of 12. He received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, his Artist Diploma from The Boston Conservatory, and his Doctorate from the University of Michigan. He is endorses Yamaha, Zildjian, Remo and Innovative Percussion, which produces his signature mallet series. Mr. Cheung is currently an Associate Professor and Chair of the Percussion Area at the University of Oregon.

Dr. Brian Zator – Live 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.

 

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.