John Bergamo

John Bergamo, born May 28, 1940, in Englewood, New Jersey, was an American percussionist, composer and educator, best known as the coordinator of the percussion department at the California Institute of the Arts, as well as the co-founder of two all-percussion groups: The Repercussion Unit in 1976 with Larry Stein, Ed Mann, James Hildebrandt, Gregg A. Johnson, Paul Anceau, and Steven "Lucky" Mosko; and The Hands On'Semble with Andrew Grueschow, Randy Gloss and Austin Wrinkle in 1997. He also appeared on the soundtracks of at least 18 Hollywood films, produced three instructional videos, and published over 25 percussion compositions since 1963.

Bergamo received a scholarship to Lenox School of Jazz (Lenox, MA) in 1959 where he studied drumset with Max Roach, and performed in the jazz band under the instruction of Percy Heath and Kenny Dorham. In 1962, Bergamo finished his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a Bachelor and Master of Music degree while studying percussion with Paul Price and composition with Michael Colgrass. After graduation he continued to work as a freelance musician in New York City as well as performing at the Tanglewood Music Festival for the next three summers.

In the fall of 1964, Bergamo was hired to perform with an avant-garde group formed by Lukas Foss, the Creative Associates, at the State University at Buffalo. The group explored and experimented with a wide variety of music styles, performing and premiering new works regularly in Buffalo and in New York's Carnegie Recital Hall (later known as the Weill Recital Hall).

Bergamo relocated to the Pacific Coast in 1968, teaching briefly at the University of Washington. Two years later John Bergamo joined the faculty of a new school, CalArts, where he remained for thirty-five years until his retirement in 2005. After moving out west, Bergamo began to expand his non-European percussion interests by delving into the world of North and South Indian drumming. He studied tabla with Mahaparush Misra, Shankar Ghosh and Swapan Chaudhuri, South Indian drumming with T.H. Subashchandran, T.H. Vinayakram, T. Rangnathan, Poovalur Srinivasan and P.S. Venkatesan, and was one of the first Westerners to travel to Chennai, India to study the thavil. Bergamo also studied North Indian classical music with Ali Akbar Khan at the Ali Akbar College of Music (San Rafael, CA).

Throughout his music career, Bergamo performed with the likes of Herb Albert, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Steve Gadd, Malcolm Goldstein, Lou Harrison, Mickey Hart, Percy Heath, Ali Akbar Khan, Dave Liebman, Nexus, Walter Quintus, Emil Richards, Max Roach, Gunther Schuller, Shadowfax, L. Shankar, Robert Shaw, Shakti with John McLaughlin, Trichy Sankaran, Ringo Starr, Charles Wuorinen (The Group for Contemporary Music at Columbia University), Repercussion Unit, Glen Velez, Frank Zappa, and participated in the "World Drums" performance at Expo 86.

Bergamo can be heard on Hollywood film soundtracks such as Act of Violence, Altered States, Bad News Bears go to Japan, Chapter Two, Crossroads, The Exorcist II - The Heretic, Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), L.A. Story, National LAmpoon's Class Reunion, Perfect Weapon, Popeye, The Possessed, Project X, A Reflection of Fear, The Scarecrow, Sniper, Tarzan the Ape Man, and Who's Harry Crumb.

In 2012, Bergamo was inducted into the PAS (Percussive Arts Society) Hall of Fame.

John Bergamo passed away on October 19, 2013.