Jon Nathan

Event Date: 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

It has been a busy year for faculty percussionist and jazz ensembles director Jon Nathan, filled with professional engagements as a percussionist, drummer, music director, arranger, composer, recording engineer, and recording and concert producer. Professor Nathan elaborates on his projects below:

“I am extremely proud to say that I teach Music at UCSB, a world-class university that allows me access to some of the best minds and brightest students in the world. It is a daily challenge to be up to task in giving my best to the department, campus, and local communities as a professional musician and educator. It also allows me opportunities to work across the campus in various capacities and, as a part time lecturer, allows me to continue to pursue a healthy professional performing career.

The past five years have been especially exciting for me personally and professionally. In the fall of 2011, I completed my first Ironman Triathlon (2.4 Miles Swimming, 112 Miles Cycling, 26.2 Miles Running) widely regarded as the world’s most challenging athletic event, especially true after a June 2011 bike crash left me with a broken collarbone and collapsed left lung. Endurance training has taught me the importance of organization and an understanding of our physical selves and how to apply those ideas to music preparation and performance. I have since completed two more Ironmans and a number of other endurance events, including the extremely grueling Red Rock 50 mile trail race, held here in Santa Barbara. In 2013, I spent a summer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in southern Utah as percussionist and drummer for three different musical theatre productions. Each of these different productions tested my abilities and experience as a musician and percussionist, and I played over 100 performances for perhaps 30,000 total audience members over the course of my time there.

Even more personally significant is recent work I have done in musical theatre, drama, and dance. Since 2013, as a music director, I have worked in some capacity on seven productions at Santa Barbara High School’s Music Theatre, directed by Otto Layman. Fresh off the success of last Fall’s “Pippin”, which featured a band comprised mostly of recent UCSB students, we are currently preparing “Hair” (opening in late April), which deals with themes of war, death, freedom, and politics: all relevant topics for today’s students. I have also been active with UCSB’s Department of Theatre and Dance, currently teaching a class on the intersection of music and dance, and having acted as music director/consultant for three main stage productions: “In the Red Brown Water” (Spring 2015, Shirley Jo Finney, director), “Venus” (Fall 2015, Tom Whitaker, director), and currently in production the Launchpad Production new work by Idris Goodwin, “We Want the Funk: A Rustbelt Lullaby” (Risa Brainin, director). “Venus” was especially satisfying personally because there was no music associated with the play, and the director and I developed a concept for the production that I then created music for and produced with a trio of UCSB Jazz Ensemble musicians, who played live for every performance of the production.

One of the highlights of my last two years has been an association with UCSB’s Office of Public Affairs as Music Producer for UCSB Amplified, a video series created to spotlight the abundance of musical performing talent in the UCSB community, from our own Music Department students and faculty, to students and faculty in other departments, and university staff and alumni. The Fall 2016 releases (Season 3) brought performances from the newly opened library and a collaboration between voice faculty member Isabel Bayrakdarian and UCSB’s Middle East Ensemble, Scott Marcus director, and much more.

I have spent a majority of my professional life at UCSB, having taught jazz performance for over 20 years and percussion for over 15, and having received my Doctorate in music performance in the late 1990’s. As a professional musician, I have performed in the widest variety of musical experiences imaginable, and my sense of joy, versatility, professionalism, and adventure is what I aim to bring to my students and colleagues at UCSB on a daily basis, no matter their educational goals and past experience.”


Professor Nathan’s major performances and projects for Spring 2016 include:

            • April 13, UCSB Jazz Ensemble, with guest trombonist, Ed Neumeister

            • April 29 – May 8, SB High School Music Theatre

            • May 13, Senior BM Percussion Recital, Nick Diamantides

            • May 18, UCSB Percussion Ensemble “From A-Z”

            • June 1, UCSB Jazz Ensemble, “We Want the Funk (and Rock, and Fusion)”


Photo by Eric Isaacs.