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Hands On'semble

Hands On’Semble is a contemporary percussion ensemble devoted to the art of hand drumming founded by renowned percussion vanguard John Bergamo in 1997 (with Randy Gloss, Andrew Grueschow, and Austin Wrinkle). Born out of the Percussion and World Music programs at CalArts at that time, Hands On’Semble has come to define the state of world percussion on the West Coast.

“A Stellar percussion group…extraordinary soloing, and extensive palette of sounds.” 
-Modern Drummer

“Hands On’Semble plays music that is pure 21st century California, the fulcrum where the whole planet meets.” 
-World Rhythm Magazine

Drum! Magazine Reader’s Poll Award Winner Best Percussion Ensemble in 2003 and 2002,
runner up in 2001 and 2012, and 2007 for Best Percussion Album

Hands On’Semble has performed and lectured throughout the United States, South America, Europe, and Asia at many of the world’s premier percussion and world music festivals, music schools and conservatories, and have collaborated in performance and recording with a wide array of highly esteemed percussion artists from around the world including: Swapan Chaudhuri, Poovalur Sriji, Houman Pourmehdi, Adam Rudolph, Brad Dutz, Abbos Kosimov, Pete Lockett, Glen Velez, Jamey Haddad, Steve Shehan, Mark Nauseef, Ed Mann, Carlos Stasi, and Guello.
Percussionists and critics worldwide have praised their recorded work (five albums to date), as being some of the most important and interesting of it’s kind.

“John Bergamo, Austin Wrinkle, Randy Gloss, and Andrew Grueschow succeeded in presenting a CD clearly ranking among the most interesting percussion CD’s of the last ten years.”
-Percussion Creativ, Germany

“This just might be the best percussion recording ever made. The drumming is of such a high quality that this CD is on my short list of the CDs I can recommend to any drummer or percussionist. It is one of those rare CDs that is wonderful to list to, and also can be played over and over in order to learn new rhythms and compositional forms… Every drummer should own this CD.”

“Some percussion groups might err on the side of the clinical, technical, or avant-garde, but the Hands On’Semble makes sure that everything grooves. It’s fascinating and exhilarating to hear such great players work this fusion out. “
–Modern Drummer

“The Hands On’Semble always creates music with excellent energy and interesting colors and textures. The music is never so esoteric as to be elitist or incomprehensible, it always grooves. As great as the music is, it is an excellent resource for listeners to be exposed to and learn about percussion traditions from around the world.”
-Percussive Notes, The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society

“If you have the slightest interest in hand drumming you must have this CD, if you are interested in drumming, rhythm, timing, creating interesting beats and expanding your soloing capabilities
this is a must have CD.” and

“The group’s expertise has always been a blending of rhythmic compositional forms and techniques from a wide array of world drumming traditions, while at the same time bridging these various instruments/traditions into a unique, seamless musical amalgam. This is their most developed and mature album todate. Get your hands on this CD!”
-Percussive Notes, The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society

With the retirement of John Bergamo back in 2004 (and later with his passing in 2013), Hands On’Semble forged forward, continuing to grow and explore, embarking on their most prolific period which included many extensive collaborations with highly esteemed guest artists while at the same time remaining most active and vital as the core trio continuing to develop, compose, perform, record, lecture, and research as the group has always done, with a renewed sense of purpose.

In 2010, Hands On’Semble garnered the attention of acclaimed film composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who recruited the group to provide the “ethnic percussion” to his soundtrack to the Disney film Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. The following year, Gregson-Williams brought Hands On’Semble back to provide their palette of sounds, colors, and percussion for his soundtrack to the Universal/ Dreamworks film Cowboys and Aliens.

In November 2012, Hands On’Semble released their fifth album, Cinco Sobre Três – Fünf Über Drei, which has become widely regarded by critics as “their most developed and mature album to date” (Percussive Notes). That same month the group’s founder John Bergamo was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.

Hands On’Semble remains active performing and teaching, and are currently working on new material for concerts and what will be their sixth album.



Later Event: October 15
Hands On'semble