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College of Saint Elizabeth Music Instructor Peter Saleh Brings His Blend of Jazz and Contemporary Music to Campus

College of Saint Elizabeth Music Instructor Peter Saleh Brings His Blend of Jazz and Contemporary Music to Campus

Percussionist and CSE adjunct instructor of music Peter Saleh performs on April 17, 2013, in the College’s Annunciation Center Dolan Performance Hall.  Accompanied by his duo partner, Britton Matthews, Saleh will bring the sounds of jazz and contemporary music to the CSE stage.   The concert is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free to the College community with a valid CSE identification; ticket price for general admission is $10.

Saleh and Matthews have been performing together since 2008 as members the Exit 9 percussion group.  Together, they worked on side projects as a duo that became Exit 9/Detour.   During the April performance, Saleh and Matthews will play marimba, vibraphone, and percussion music with traces of contemporary jazz and classical music that will move, inspire, and excite all audiences. A special portion of the concert will feature ExitIX Novum, an original composition of Saleh’s that received national recognition. It will be performed for the first time as a duo with a new electronic element commissioned from well-known West Coast artist, Bruce Hamilton, by Detour and 20 other musicians around the world. They will also perform music by the Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad, the French marimbist Eric Sammut, and the Princeton, N.J., composer Thomas Oboe Lee, as well as two rare Chick Corea arrangements by the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principle percussionist Chris Deviney.

Saleh’s Interest in Music Began at a Young Age

Saleh began to take music seriously after his mother bought him a drum set and he has not stopped since.  “I happen to like playing percussion because if you do it well, you are never, ever bored. I also like the idea that I can make other people move and dance just by making sounds with my hands,” Saleh explains. 

He received his bachelor’s from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, his master’s in Percussion Performance with a minor in composition at the University of North Texas, where he also held a teaching fellowship.  Since graduating, he has studied privately and has continued to learn at every opportunity. 

Professionally, Saleh has performed in musical theater productions for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, N.J., and the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, N.J.  He performed the music for a show last summer in New York City called “It’s On!” which featured music based on well- known television show and movie theme songs like Diff'rent Strokes, True Blood, and Gilligan's Island.  Saleh has traveled to Korea and Taiwan for solo and Exit 9 tours.  He has given guest lectures at Rutgers, the University of Delaware, Western Washington University, NYU, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He also has an artist/educator endorsement with the Pearl/Adams drum company. 

Saleh has been teaching at CSE since 2010. He also plays about 100 other percussion instruments from all around the world like the djembe (a goblet-shaped hand drum from West Africa) and surdo (a large bass drum used in Brazilian music).   He has played with music groups ranging from the New York Repertory Orchestra and the Greenwich Village Singers to the NYC street performing act The Xylopholks and performance artist Matthew Barney, as well as countless community, church ensembles, and "pick-up" orchestras.  He also fills in on the drum book drum for the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q in New York. 

Other than teaching at CSE, he is a modern dance accompanist at the Julliard School and teaches at the State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase and the Rutgers Youth Percussion Ensemble.  He also coaches percussion at the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey.  In the coming year, he will be publishing several new scores and working on the second edition of his book called A Percussionist’s Handbook.   Saleh is also editing a marimba concerto for performance that was written for him by Evan Mack, the New York composer who created the 2011 opera Angel of the Amazon, and in which Saleh premiered in New York.  Saleh recently had a series of performances at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in

NYC with Nimbus Dance Works where he premiered a new work, We Acquiesce, which was funded through a generous grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 “I'd like to be able to continue doing what I do, to continue to make strides, to meet people, perform, write, arrange, record, and teach music,” says Saleh. 

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