Performer and educator Robert McCormick is the director of the McCormick Percussion Group, recognized by composers and aficionados throughout the world for their creative interpretations and recordings that are decidedly out of the mainstream of percussion literature. The MPG often collaborates with guest non-percussion performers to explore and develop new trends of compositional thought. Among the most recorded ensembles of the genre, MPG has recorded dozens of albums including several on Ravello Records. To ensure the original intent of each composition remains intact, guest composers are often invited to rehearse and record with the ensemble.


Today, Robert is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover how important collaboration is to Robert…


If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?


I am so fortunate to be able to collaborate with the finest musicians I know: 1) Eunmi Ko, the resident pianist of the McCormick Percussion Group, 2) Baljinder Sekhon, the resident composer of the McCormick Percussion Group, and 3) of course the many other outstanding composers and performers with whom I work with.


What advice do you have for young musicians?


It is always about being imaginative, industrious, curious, and adaptable to the myriad of situations that we musicians find ourselves in.


Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?


This is our tenth album with Ravello, and each uniquely explores a vocabulary of ideas, sounds, colors, and imagination. The more one listens, the greater the understanding and enjoyment.


How do you prepare for a performance?


Each situation is different. Some works require technical preparation, which means practicing slowly until I can perform/conduct a passage with confidence. Some works are more conceptual and require an exploration of the possibilities of timbre, colors, pacing, balance etc.


Where and when are you at your most creative?


I work best during days before the performance, often when the composers visit the rehearsal to hear how I have interpreted their score. I am always learning during these sessions. The symbiotic relationship between the performer and composer is always inspiring and productive.


Who are your musical mentors?


I have been influenced by my teachers Danlee Mitchell, Forrest Clark, and Anthony Cirone; conductors Irwin Hoffman and James Croft; flutist Kim Stirzaker McCormick, and the many composers with whom I have worked. I also appreciate how much I have learned from my students.

  • Soli for Tuba, Zheng, Horn, With Percussion - album cover

    Soli for Tuba, Zheng, Horn, With Percussion

    Available now from Ravello Records.

  • Robert McCormick

    Robert McCormick is currently Professor of Music at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He served as principal percussionist/assistant timpanist with the Florida Orchestra for 20 seasons. He is a former member of the Harry Partch Ensemble and often performs and records with high profile artists of all genres. In 2010, he conducted the premiere performance of Chan Hae Lee’s Korean folk opera Simcheongga at the National Center of Performing Arts in Seoul. In March 2014 McCormick performed the world premiere of Baljinder Sekhon’s Double Percussion Concerto at Carnegie Hall with percussionist Lee Hinkle. McCormick was the 2006 recipient of the Florida Music Educator of the Year Award; the 2007 Grand Prize in the Keystone Percussion Composition Award; the 2010 University Distinguished Teacher Award; and the 2015 Percussive Arts Society Lifetime Achievement in Education Award. He has also received several Global Music Awards for his albums, many of which are published on the Ravello Records label and distributed by Naxos. McCormick proudly endorses Encore Mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Zildjian Cymbals.