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Cory Hills

Los Angeles, CA            

Multi-percussionist, composer, and improviser Cory Hills thrives on breaking down musical barriers through creative, interdisciplinary projects. He has received degrees from Northwestern University, Queensland Conservatorium, and the University of Kansas, and was awarded a research fellowship to Institute Fabrica. Currently, Hills is an active performer, composer, and recording artist in Los Angeles, as well as a member of the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet.

An advocate of new music, Hills has individually commissioned and premiered over 100 new works for percussion. He has given solo and chamber recitals across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, The United States, Mexico, and China. These include a featured performance for the International Society of Improvised Music, the Days of New Music Festival in Chisinau, Moldova, the Queensland Music Festival, the Ravello Concert Festival, the Venice Art Biennale, five PASIC conventions, the Morelia Percussion Festival, and Festival Mozaic. An advocate for percussion as an artistic discipline, Hills has been the artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain National Park, Conservatorio de Las Rosas, a fellow at the OMI international artist’s colony, and the first artist-in-residence with Eighth Blackbird in Chicago.

Percussive Storytelling, a program that brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways, was launched by Hills while a fellow at Institute Fabrica. The program recently marked its 500th performance, and has reached more than 130,000 children in nine countries. For this work, Hills has been the recipient of numerous arts grants, and was named the 2009 Emerging Artist through the Kansas Arts Commission. The Lost Bicycle, Hills’ debut solo CD of percussive stories, has received four national parenting and creative arts awards (NAPPA Parent’s Awards Gold, Parent’s Choice Award Silver, World Storytelling Honors Award, and a Creative Child preferred choice). In June 2015, The Lost Bicycle was released as a fully illustrated children’s book published by AcutebyDesign. In 2016, Hills released his second album of percussive stories called Drum Factory, on Sono Luminus Records. Drum Factory received a Parent’s Choice Silver Award, three nominations at the 2016 Independent Music Awards, and was named CD of Year by Creative Child. In May 2018, Hills released his first children’s novel, Beatrice and the POGsalso published by AcyteByDesign.

Hills is an artist for Innovative Percussion, Remo, Yamaha, Sabian, and Black Swamp Percussion.

Drum Factory

Drum Factory is a retelling of the age-old camp classic Button Factory, in which a poor guy named Joe keeps getting told to push buttons with different parts of his body. I took this idea and rewrote it to be Drum Factory, where I assigned the buttons to different percussion instruments. After hitting each instrument, my “boss” tells me to go faster and faster until I lose control. This is a fun one to perform!

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Tikki Tikki Tembo

Tikki Tikki Tembo is a classic Chinese folktale retold by Arlene Mosel, and represented here on djembes! An audience favorite during Percussive Storytelling programs, Tikki Tikki Tembo usually results in audiences trying to say the poor boy’s super, really, extremely, looooooooooong name!

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Black Bear and Mountain Lion

In the summer of 2015, I was invited to serve as the centennial Artist-in-Residence for the 100th birthday of Rocky Mountain National Park. I was commissioned to write a story, and Black Bear and Mountain Lion is the result! The story is told in the tradition of many Native American tales – a mythical version of how something became something. In this case, a young black bear and mountain lion become the faces of two rock formations that point people in the direction of the highest peak in the mountains.

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