Ed Harrison is Principal Timpanist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Artist Faculty and Head of Percussion at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. He is considered the leading exponent of contemporary maraca playing in the United States and Europe. While in Venezuela as Principal Timpanist of the Caracas Philharmonic, he studied with the great Joropo virtuoso Maximo B. Teppa. Upon returning to the U.S., he adapted the techniques for use in a wide variety of styles. In 1999, the world’s first concerto for maraca soloist with symphony orchestra was written for him and premiered at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. Chicago Tribune music critic John Von Rhein referred to “Harrison’s remarkable mastery as a solo performer” and Sun Times critic Wynne Delacoma referred to his “finely honed tone and agile, lightening fast rhythm.” In addition, she compared Harrison’s maraca playing to standard maraca playing as “the difference between a prima ballerina and an elephant.” Mr. Harrison subsequently performed the piece at Dvorak Hall in Prague to an outstanding reception and recorded it with the Czech National Orchestra for Albany Records.
Ed Harrison has performed with a wide variety of artists ranging from Leonard Bernstein and Sir George Solti to McCoy Tyner and Paquito D’Rivera. Ed has recorded for Deutsche Grammaphon, London/Decca, Pro Arte/Fanfare, Delmark, Albany, Cedille Records and others. He was a founding member of the Gershwin/Bernstein Ensemble of the Chicago Symphony Ensembles program and performs frequently with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival. He has done radio and television performances for Nova (Public Broadcasting Systems), Metromedia, National Public Radio, WFMT Chicago, WGBH Boston. Ed has performed on commercial soundtracks (jingles) for McDonalds, Kraft Foods, Sears, Kellogg, Ameritech, Illinois Tourism and others.
Mr. Harrison has a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory where he studied with Vic Firth. He attended the Tanglewood Music Center on a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship in 1983 and returned the following year by invitation of the Artistic Directors. He has served on the faculties of DePaul, Northwestern, and Concordia Universities. Ed is a Zildjian Orchestral Artist and a member of the Vic Firth Education Team.