Crane Prof. Petercsak honored by Manhattan School of Music
Friday, October 15, 2010 - 1:03 pm

POTSDAM – SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Percussion James Petercsak has been honored with an award from his alma mater, the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

The accomplished musician will be presented with the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees, this fall.

Petercsak has led the percussion program at the State University of New York at Potsdam's Crane School of Music since 1968, where he directs the award-winning Crane Percussion Ensemble. He has held the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor since 1991, longer than any other active music professor in the State University of New York.

Petercsak is internationally recognized as a performer, educator, clinician and music industry visionary. During his career, he has prepared several hundred students for careers in all aspects of the music industry. His former students teach at over 20 different college and universities, direct many leading high school music programs in the nation, work as performers, composers, conductors and hold top management positions in the music products industry. At the Crane School of Music, Petercsak has conducted the Crane Percussion Ensemble for over 40 years, including concerts in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, as well as on annual tours of New York State. In addition, Petercsak directs studio instruction and ensemble preparation for more than 30 undergraduate percussion students.

As a performer, Petercsak is the rare percussionist who is equally adept in both the classical and jazz repertoire. He has performed as orchestral timpanist and percussionist with top names such as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, the American Symphony with Leopold Stokowski, the New Jersey State Opera with conductor Alfredo Silipigni, the New York City Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.

As a jazz drummer-percussionist, he has performed during four decades with many of the great entertainers of our time, a list that includes Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Dame Cleo Laine, Nancy Wilson, Della Reese, Carol Channing, Liza Minelli, Lisa Vroman, Shirley Bassey, Dionne Warwick, Mitzi Gaynor, Billy Ekstine, Jack Jones, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, George Benson, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Jerry Vale, Glenn Campbell, George Burns, Sergio Franchi, Trini Lopez, Liberace, Petercsakmy Roselli, Henry Mancini, The Four Seasons, The Supremes, Rosemary Clooney, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson, among others.

Petercsak has performed at many of the major venues in the U.S. For 26 years, he was the principal percussionist at the Garden State Arts Center, and has also performed at Wolf Trap, the Heinz Theatre, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Lincoln Center, many of the Catskills resorts and on Boston Common.

As a clinician, Petercsak has performed and presented throughout the United States as well as in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Austria and Brazil. He has numerous publications, articles and presentations at national and state conferences and most recently had New York State Day of Percussion presentations at Syracuse and Binghamton, N.Y., as well as the Canadian gathering at the Université de Montréal.

Petercsak endorses and plays Yamaha Percussion and Sabian cymbals. In addition, he has served as a music industry consultant to Sabian Ltd., Yamaha Corp. of America, Zildjian, Samson Technologies Corp., Time Warner Music, Custom Music and QuasiProd Ltd.

In his role as faculty associate in development at SUNY Potsdam, Petercsak was instrumental in establishing the Crane Institute for Music Business, which currently enrolls nearly 100 students and has received numerous grants and contributions to help connect music performance, music education and the music products industry. Petercsak coordinates the format and the planning of the Sandy Feldstein Music Business Roundtable each year at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif., taking place each January, an event hosting 80,000 musicians and industry representatives from around the world.

Petercsak has been a key figure in the Percussive Arts Society for the past four decades. He served as the president of PAS from 1977 to 1982, and conceived the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, which has showcased the percussion world for the last 35 years. The show annually draws 7,500 percussionists from around the globe. Petercsak was the executive director of the convention for eight years and was most proud to present the show in NYC in 1981. In 2003, PAS honored Petercsak with its Lifetime Achievement Award in Education.

While a student at the Manhattan School of Music, Petercsak studied percussion with Paul Price. He played percussion in the MSM orchestra conducted by Jonel Perlea, and toured Europe, the Middle East and Asia, performing with the percussion ensemble conducted by Paul Price. He has also studied with Henry Adler, Doug Allen, Jack Jennings and Charles Tappan. Petercsak helps carry on the musical tradition and learning acquired at the Manhattan School of Music and continues to support the belief that "live music performance speaks for itself."

Petercsak is a member of Local 802 and 373-204 American Federation of Musicians, a charter member of the Potsdam Chapter of United University Professions, a SUNY University Scholar and UUP Best award-winner. Petercsak is a member of the Manhattan School of Music Alumni Council and is a long-time supporter of the School and its programs. He continues a long and distinguished career with a deep commitment to his students, to his teaching and professional colleagues, to the music industry, and, above all, to musical excellence.