Josh Graham, Guest Percussionist
For its second concert program of the 2019–20 season, Orion performs Chronies by American composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez (b. 1946), a colorful glimpse into unusual sonic worlds, combining the mystical and soothing voice of the bass clarinet with the power of percussion, performed by guest Josh Graham .

Graham has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada premiering dozens of new works for percussion. He is part of the trio F-PLUS and percussionist and program director for the Zafa Collective. Recent performances include Carnegie Hall, Art Institute of Chicago, Constellation, Milwaukee Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art and universities throughout the country. He has given master classes at numerous institutions and currently teaches at Triton College and the Music Institute of Chicago.
Here Graham shares his thoughts about percussion, chamber music
and upcoming plans.
What first attracted you to percussion instruments? Which ones do you play?
I started on drum set, but the first instrument I fell in love with was the marimba. I love the sound of the instrument, and even though I came to it late (I switched from saxophone to percussion when I was a junior in high school), I spent a lot of time listening to recordings before I became serious about classical percussion. 

What are your thoughts about  Chronies , the piece you’re playing with Orion?
Chronies is an interesting piece that uses mostly marimba with some small percussion instruments. I am looking forward to it! I often play with clarinet; my trio, F-PLUS, is violin, clarinet and percussion
What do you like about performing with chamber ensembles like Orion?
Most of my performing is in chamber music settings. Along with F-PLUS and other freelance work, I’m a member of the Zafa Collective, a group of mixed instrumentation in Chicago that focuses on works by underrepresented composers, specifically women and composers of color. I love the feeling of teamwork and communication that chamber music provides. You feel that you’re really making something together and can put your own personal stamp on it. 
What other kinds of music do you like to play?
Apart from chamber music, I like to play timpani in orchestra and drum set at my church and as a soloist whenever I can. I have commissioned several solo works for percussion in the past year by Katherine Pukinskis and Thomas Kotcheff and toured programs for solo marimba and solo vibraphone around the Midwest. 

What’s coming up next for you after these concerts?
My wife and I had our first child in early August, so I took a brief “Paternity Leave” from performing after she was born! In late October and early November, I’m doing a set of duo recitals with flutist Nicole Frankel presented by the Zafa Collective, as well as residencies with F-PLUS at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and Washington University in St. Louis. At the end of November and beginning of December, I’m performing Evolving Elements for marimba and string quartet with the Zafa Collective at Constellation-Chicago and the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

See Orion's November Concerts!
Concert 2

Nov. 10 - 7 pm (New England Congregational Church, Aurora)
Nov. 13 - 7:30 pm (PianoForte Studios, Chicago)
Nov. 17 - 7:30 pm (Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston)

$30 adults | $25 seniors | $15 students

“Innovative programming. Unique repertoire.
Thoughtful performances that get to the music’s soul.”
~ Jim Ginsburg, President, Cedille Records

27th Season—2019-20
The Orion Ensemble is supported in part by grants from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, the Farny R. Wurlitzer Foundation Fund, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and by generous donations from our dedicated patrons.