John H. Beck was a member of the United States Marine Band for four years before joining the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as principal percussionist in 1959 and becoming principal timpanist in 1962. A recipient of B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Eastman School of Music, he currently heads its percussion department and is conductor of the Eastman Percussion Ensemble.
Mr. Beck has made solo appearances with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Syracuse Wind Ensemble, Chatauqua Band, Memphis State Band, Rochester Chamber Orchestra and Filharmonia Pomorska in Poland.
A composer whose works have been published by several leading houses, Mr. Beck can be heard on CRI, Turnabout Records, Mark Records and Heritage Records. He has recorded Bartok’s Sonata for two Pianos and Percussion, Verne Reynolds’, Concertare I for Brass Quintet and Percussion Set of Five by Henry Cowell and the Alan Hovhaness Suite with Carroll Glen and Eugene List. He is the conductor on Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra with Carroll Glenn as soloist on At The Edge for percussion and tape by Allan Schindler.
In addition to numerous articles on percussion, he has contributed articles to the Grove Dictionary of American Music and the World Book Encyclopedia. Recently, Garland Publishing introduced his Encyclopedia of Percussion Instruments.
John Beck was the recipient of the Mu Phi Epsilon Musician of the Year award for 1976. In 1977 he toured South America with the Aeolian Consort as percussion soloist. His New York City conducting debut was at the Abraham Goodman House in 1980. His latest New York City engagement was at the Alice Tully Hall performing works of Warren Benson and Sydney Hodkinson with the Eastman Chamber Players. In 1986 he was guest soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performing Raymond Premru’s Celebrations Overture for Solo Timpani and Orchestra.
Mr. Beck served on the faculty of the Grand Teton Orchestral Seminar for four years, served as pops conductor of the Penfield Symphony and was performer, clinician, teacher and conductor during several summers at the International Workshops for Percussion in Bydgoszcz, Poland. In 1989 and 1992 he was the American adjudicator for the International Percussion Competition in Luxembourg. His most recent solo engagement with orchestra was the premier performance of Claude Baker’s Three Pieces for 5 Timpani and 5 Roto-toms with David Effron and the Eastman School of Music Philharmonia. In September of 1990 he toured Russia with 14 percussionists from the Percussive Arts Society and in that same year served as adjudicator for the Japan Music Education and Culture Promotion Society in Tokyo, Japan. In 1993 he was percussionist in residence at the Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Program . In 1994 he was percussionist in residence at the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen, clinician for the international Foundation for Performing Arts Medicine and clinician , soloist and instructor at the Encontro Latino Americanos De Percussao in Santa Maria, Brazil.