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Ian Alvarez



Ian Alvarez began playing piano at the age of 5. He continued his piano studies into high school where he participated in Seattle Public School’s Solo Ensemble Competitions, performed at PTA meetings and played in Jazz Ensembles. His Percussion studies started at the age of 10 when he played a Timpani Solo with the Briarcliff School Orchestra with many students who performed with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. At the age of 11 he was selected to perform with Seattle Young Artists in Benjamin Brittain’s Opera Noah’s Flood supported by members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. From Fifth Grade through High School he played each year in the Percussion Sections of the Seattle All City Orchestras or Bands. As a senior, Ian was honored with the American Legion Award as the Most Outstanding Musician at Queen Anne High School.

At Seattle Pacific University he studied Marimba and Timpani with Kathy Ramm. While at SPU he performed in the University Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. During the summer of his Junior Year he received a full scholarship to study Spanish at the University of Madrid. He also traveled the country listening to Spanish Folk Music at a variety of music festivals. Upon returning from Spain he received a Double Major in Music Education/Music Theory and

Literature with honors and finished his teaching credential in instrumental music education. He became Principal Percussionist and Timpanist for George Shangrow’s Broadway Symphony Orchestra in 1981. In addition he regularly performed on Marimba and Timpani at University Presbyterian Church. After experiencing success conducting secondary school groups in the Highline and Kent School Districts he began his Masters in Conducting at Western Washington University in 1984. Here he received an internship to conduct the University Symphonic Band and assume the Principal Percussionist responsibilities for the University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. While at Western he studied Marimba and Timpani with Seattle Symphony Percussionist Michael Clark.

In 1985 he was accepted into the Music Education Program at Northwestern University. While in Evanston he became a research assistant for Bennett Reimer and a graduate conducting assistant for John P. Paynter. Her performed as a percussionist in a number of world premieres, in chamber groups and regularly performed with the University Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. He played in the Chicago Civic Orchestra and at times conducted the orchestra in rehearsals. Ian moved back to Seattle to attend the University of Washington in 1986. He studied Marimba and Vibraphone with Tom Collier and Timpani from Mike Crusoe. He became a graduate conducting assistant of Tim Salzman regularly having opportunities to perform as Principal Percussionist and conduct the University Wind Ensemble. It was at this time that he began collaboration with Pianist Joel Salsman and Violinist Matthew Weiss to promote chamber music of Northwest Composers. For the next 10 years Ian performed regularly as a Percussionist at Chamber Music Events with Joel Salsman throughout Greater Seattle. He also was Assistant Conductor and Principal Percussionist of the Puget Sound Symphonic Band.

In 1989 he joined The Cascade Symphony Orchestra as Timpanist and later went on to perform the Concerto for Marimba and Vibraphone and Concerto for Percussion by Darius Milhaud with this fine Edmonds based ensemble. Ian founded the Cascade Percussion Ensemble in 1996 with members of the Cascade Symphony featuring outstanding Youth Symphony Percussionists in the North Seattle Area. The group continues to be well known performing at area Churches, Universities, on King FM, Chamber Music Events, Youth Symphony Performances, and at Percussion Arts Society Concerts.

Ian began conducting and coaching for the Cascade Youth Symphony Organization in 1990. He began developing a Private Studio of outstanding Middle and High School Percussionists to perform in all 4 of the organizations orchestras. Many of his students have been Youth Symphony Concerto Finalists, Washington State Solo Winners, and Principal Percussion Artists with All-State and All-Northwest Performing Groups.

Currently he is on the Music Education Faculties of The Edmonds School District, and Northwest University and Seattle Pacific University. Ian particularly enjoys being the Artist-in-Residence at Edmonds United Methodist Church where he Sings, Plays Brass, Keyboard and Percussion.

When not busy teaching or performing, Ian loves spending time with his wife Kim and daughter Mackenzie. They enjoy traveling, going to musicals, and once in a while having a nice dinner out. Ian’s favorite outdoor activities are hiking, backpacking and alpine scrambling with family and friends in the mountains of the Western United States and Canada.

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