Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Former percussion prof joins elite ranks

by The Indiana Gazette on November 15, 2013 10:50 AM

A retired Indiana University of Pennsylvania percussion professor Thursday joined the ranks of some world-class drummers including Gene Krupa, Tito Puente, Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton and Ringo Starr, as well as renowned cymbals and drum accessories manufacturers Avedis, Armand and Robert Zildjian.

Dr. Gary Olmstead, an IUP professor emeritus, was elected to the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony took place at the annual PAS International Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center, Indianapolis.

Olmstead joined a select group of only 111 percussionists chosen to receive the honor since its inception in 1972. In addition to numerous awards and recognitions, Olmstead received the Lifetime Achievement in Education Award from The Percussive Arts Society in 2004 and Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching from IUP in 1994.

Olmstead came to IUP in 1966 as the music department’s first full-time percussion instructor and worked until his retirement in 2003 to develop a university percussion program which gained international recognition.

In addition to other professional associations, he was active in the Percussive Arts Society as a member of the board of directors for 11 years, served as first vice president for two years and as president for five years. It was during his presidency that the annual Percussive Arts Society International Conventions were established. The conventions today register approximately 5,000 participants.

In 1997, Olmstead and IUP percussion alumni and friends established the Olmstead Percussion Scholarship.

Upon retirement, Olmstead donated his personal 3,000-item percussion library to IUP.

In 2010 Olmstead was honored by the IUP Board of Trustees when the Cogswell Music Building’s percussion rehearsal hall was named for him. The Olmstead Percussion Rehearsal Hall is used for a variety of percussion activities from percussion ensemble rehearsals to guest artist clinics and presentations.

Olmstead lives in Indiana with his wife, Michelina.

Also inducted Thursday were Clifford Alexis, a performer, composer, arranger, tuner, builder and educator; Harold Jones, a prolific jazz drummer; and Salvatore Rabbio, a world-class performer, clinician and educator.

PAS is an international organization of more 7,000 members, with 50 chapters located across the United States, and an additional 28 chapters outside the U.S.

The Percussive Arts Society is the world’s largest percussion organization and is considered the central source for information and networking for percussionists and drummers of all ages. Established in 1961 as a nonprofit, music service organization, its mission is to promote percussion education, research, performance and appreciation throughout the world.

The Hall of Fame award is the society’s highest form of recognition for outstanding accomplishment and artistic contributions to the world of percussion. The PAS Hall of Fame was established in 1972 to recognize the contributions of the most highly regarded leaders in percussion performance, education, research, scholarship, administration, composition and the industry. Inductees demonstrate the highest ideals and professional integrity to their profession to bring about significant events, substantive improvements in the world of percussion, and the betterment of the profession through exemplary services or acts.

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