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Aaron Ragsdale

Brookings, SD         



Dr. Aaron Ragsdale is Associate Professor of Music and Assistant Director of Bands at South Dakota State University where he teaches applied percussion and percussion pedagogy, directs both the Pride of the Daktoas Drum Line and SDSU Percussion Ensemble, and helps direct and administrate the All State Music Camp.

In addition to his duties at SDSU, Dr. Ragsdale has served as a clinician, conductor, and adjudicator for middle and high school students in South Dakota, Arkansas and Oklahoma and regularly performs at the regional and national level. In addition to his membership in the percussion section of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, he has appeared four times at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC)—including the World Premiere of Woods Walker for marimba and electronics at the 2010 convention—and at the National Convention on Percussion Pedagogy. Ragsdale has also appeared as a soloist on PAS “Days of Percussion” in Arkansas and Oklahoma and as marimba soloist with the Rutgers University Percussion Ensemble as part of the “Great Music at St. Bart’s” concert series at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City and with the SDSU Wind Symphony on Adam Silverman’s “Carbon Paper and Nitrogen Ink” at Symphony Center in Chicago, IL.

March 2017 saw the release of his CD with saxophonist Nathan Jorgensen, “A Miraculous Tale: Mixed Music for percussion and saxophone” on the Centaur Label. In May 2018, he presented “Noises Everywhere,” a program featuring newly commissioned works for percussion at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space in New York City.

Ragsdale’s percussion quartet, Opener for R.H. co-composed with Barrett Hipesis published by Studio 4 Music and has been performed around the US. He is currently the composer in residence for the Harvey Dunn Collaborative, a work that merges the discrete art forms of poetry, dance, animation, film and musical composition to create a cross-artistic theatrical performance inspired by the work of South Dakota’s premiere artist and illustrator, Harvey Dunn. 

A native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Dr. Ragsdale holds a DMA from Rutgers University, a Master of Music degree from the University of Arkansas, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Oklahoma. He lives in Brookings with his wife, Ashley, daughter, Olivia, and son, Harrison.

Graceful Circles, Mvt. II

Graceful Circles is a piece for keyboard driven percussion octet. This is a live recording by the South Dakota State University Percussion Ensemble.

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Blizzard is a piece for percussion ensemble and soundscape composed to accompany dance as part of the Harvey Dunn Feminine Images project.

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“Stalker” for solo percussion by Jay Batzner, performed by Aaron Ragsdale

Stalker is based on the book Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and was composed for Aaron Ragsdale. In this book, aliens have visited Earth and left strange objects behind in certain “zones” around the globe. Stalkers are black market dealers who enter these zones and procure these rare and often dangerous objects. In this composition, the mundane world is represented by the tin cans and flower pots. The various mysterious alien artifacts are the more standard percussion instruments.

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