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Erica Drake

Northampton, MA

Erica Drake is a percussionist, teacher, and conductor in Western Massachusetts. She is the artistic director and founder of fourteen|effects, principle timpanist/percussionist of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, and a member of The Valley Winds.

In 2016, Erica will complete her Doctorate of the Musical Arts (DMA) in Percussion from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, including a secondary area of study in orchestral conducting. She also holds a Master of Music (MM) in Percussion Performance, Bachelor of Music Education (BME), and Teaching Certificate from the University of Oregon. Her primary teachers include Jim Culley, Allen Otte, and Rusty Burge of Percussion Group Cincinnati, and Charles Dowd, late timpanist of the Eugene Symphony (OR).

Before relocating to Massachusetts with her husband (Dr. Matthew Westgate) and young daughter (Juniper), Erica was an active performer and teacher in the Cincinnati area. She was a regular member of concert:nova, principal timpanist of the Clermont Philharmonic Orchestra, and appeared frequently with many other ensembles in the region. In 2013 Erica presented a lecture titled Understanding Jennifer Higdon’s Orchestral Percussion Language: Percussion Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra, City Scape, and performed Higdon’s Percussion Concerto with The Xavier University Symphonic Winds. Other highlights of Erica’s percussive career include concert appearances with eighth blackbird, performing Joseph Schwantner’s Concerto for Percussion with the CCM Wind Symphony, participating in the 2009 Music X Festival in beautiful Blonay, Switzerland (with eighth blackbird, Chen Yi, and Frederic Rjewski in residence), playing drum set in a Frank Zappa cover band (with concert:nova), and playing 55+ minutes of upbeats in Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians as part of the CCM Grandin Festival (with the composer in residence).

As a teacher and conductor, Erica was on faculty at the CCM Preparatory Department, maintained a large private percussion studio, held various positions at local schools, and directed a wide variety of ensembles for all ages (concert bands, marching bands, percussion ensembles, steel bands, rock bands). As a graduate student she was the conductor and musical director of the University of Oregon Campus Band as well as a frequent guest conductor of the Oregon Percussion Ensembles (under the directions of Professor Charles Dowd and Dr. W. Sean Wagoner).

Outside the scope of music, Erica is a proud native of the Pacific Northwest and loves nature, dystopian sci-fi, and the autumnal season. She is also a full-time mom, dabbles in alternative health & medicine and organic food, and specializes in hare-brained schemes.

Rebonds B for solo percussion

Rebonds B by Iannis Xenakis • Live performance by Erica Drake, doctoral recital on May 6, 2009 • UC College-Conservatory of Music

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Higdon Percussion Concerto

Percussion Concerto by Jennifer Higdon • Erica Drake, solo percussion, with the Xavier University Symphonic Winds, Dr. Matthew Westgate, conductor • Live performance on April 25, 2013

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Musique de Table

Musique de Table by Thierry de Mey • Percussionists Benjamin Fraley, Phil Andrews, & Erica Drake (L-R) • Live performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on November 15, 2008

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