Aaron Williams

MM – Cleveland State University
BM – Oberlin Conservatory of Music
HS Diploma – Interlochen Arts Academy

Aaron Williams serves as Principal Percussionist with the Des Moines Symphony and the Quad City Symphony. He has also held the positions of Principal Percussionist with the Mansfield Symphony (Mansfield, OH) and Section Percussionist with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony.

Concurrently, Aaron is also an active freelance percussionist. He has performed with the Kansas City Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Orchestra Iowa (Cedar Rapids, IA), Buffalo Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony, and the New World Symphony, among others.

Additional orchestral engagements have lead Aaron to performances on three other continents. He performed with the Rome Festival Orchestra in Rome, Italy.  He toured China with the Oberlin Orchestra, giving concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, among other cities.  He also performed with the Orquestra de Professores at the Festival de Música de Santa Catarina in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil.

As a soloist, Aaron has performed David Gillingham’s Marimba Concerto No. 2 with the Des Moines Symphony, Áskell Másson’s Konzertstück for Snare Drum and Orchestra with the Firelands Symphony (Sandusky, OH), and Paul Creston’s Concertino for Marimba and Orchestra with the Quincy Symphony (Quincy, IL). During the summer, Aaron performs on the steps of the Iowa State Capitol with the Des Moines Metro Concert Band and has been featured as a soloist with the band.

Having great enthusiasm for contemporary chamber music, Aaron served as Artistic Director and percussionist for “Rhythm Unleashed: The Music of Marc Mellits”, a concert on the Quad City Symphony’s Signature Series. In Des Moines, he collaborated with organist Tin-Shi Tam to perform the U.S. premieres of Phaikon 493 by Leander Kaiser and The Shining City by JacobTV.

Aaron resides in Des Moines, IA where he maintains a private teaching studio and is on the faculty of the Des Moines Symphony Academy. He is also the Director of Operations for the Des Moines Symphony.  He has a Master of Music degree from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  He received his high school diploma from the Interlochen Arts Academy.  His former teachers include Tom Freer, Michael Rosen, John Alfieri, Keith Aleo, and Dr. Donna Bohn.

Aaron is a Performing Artist for the Pearl Corporation and Adams Musical Instruments.

Member of the Orchestra since

2010 (I won the audition in May 2010 and my first concert with the orchestra was the 2010 Yankee Doodle Pops)

Most memorable experience with the Orchestra

Playing the snare drum part on Bolero for the first time. Maestro Giunta put both snare drum players right out front of the orchestra. My family came to see that concert. It meant a lot to me that they could be there.

How I got started playing my instrument

My parents, like all good parents, forced me to take piano lessons when I was eight years old. After a couple of years studying piano, and after realizing I had a knack for rhythm, they actually encouraged me to start playing percussion when I entered the fourth grade. They didn't have to force me to play the drums! I jumped at the opportunity and I haven't stopped enjoying it since.

Favorite solo piece

I really enjoyed performing Askell Masson's Konzertstuck for Snare Drum and Orchestra. There's something really great about the simplicity of performing a concerto on a snare drum.

Other than classical music _____ is on my iPod

Classic rock! My big three are Yes, Styx, and Billy Joel. But honestly, I have way more music on CDs and LPs than I do on my iPod. I have never taken the time to put all of my collection onto my computer/iPod. Yes, I'm one of those people that still prefer buying a CD or LP to downloading.

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