KSU Percussion Faculty
Kurt Gartner serves as Associate Director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and Professor of Percussion at Kansas State University. There, he teaches applied percussion and percussion methods. Also, he directs the Percussion Ensemble, Keyboard Percussion Quartets, and the Latin Jazz Ensemble. As a 2010-2011 Tilford Fellow, he coordinated an interdisciplinary study of Cuban arts. In the past, he was a Big 12 Faculty Fellow, collaborating with the percussion studio and jazz program at the University of Missouri. There, he provided instruction and performances in Afro-Cuban music and applications of technology in music. He has served as Special Assistant to the Provost and as Coordinator of the university's Peer Review of Teaching Program.
Gartner's orchestral experience includes the principal timpani position with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra (as well as band) in Michigan, and percussion/timpani positions in the Lafayette (IN) Symphony Orchestra, the Danville (IL) Symphony, the Lawrence (KS) Symphony, the Lawrence (KS) Chamber Orchestra, and the Topeka Symphony. As a jazz musician, Gartner has shared the stage with luminaries such as "Blue" Lou Marini, Mike Mainieri; in world music, he has toured and recorded with tabla master Sandip Burman, and commercial venues included cruise ship drumming. He has performed on a showcase concert and presented additional clinics and performances at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. He is an educational consultant for Remo,Sabian,Vic Firth, and Etymotic Research.
Prior to his appointment at KSU, Gartner served as Associate Professor of Bands at Purdue University. In 2001, he completed his Doctor of Arts degree at the University of Northern Colorado. At UNC, he directed ensembles, taught jazz history, and was the Assistant Director of the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival. Also, he received the Graduate Dean's Citation for Outstanding Dissertation for his research of the late percussion legend, Tito Puente. Gartner is a founding member and contributing composer of the Indiana-based Los Blancos Latin Jazz Band. He is the technology editor for the journal Percussive Notes.
Neil is the Production Coordinator and Instructor for K-State dance, teaching Rhythmic Notation, Composition I for Dancers, Dance and Technology, West African Music and Dance, and Dance Musician Training. Neil also teaches applied percussion lessons, West African drumming, and coaches percussion ensembles in the Kansas State Percussion Studio. Neil earned a Master of Music with Percussion Emphasis from the University of Arizona in 2002 and is Principal Timpanist for the Arizona Opera Company and the Topeka Symphony.
Neil has worked as a dance accompanist since 1994 and has performed with dance at ACDFA, PASIC, and Jazz Dance World Congress, in addition to international venues. Neil's current research involves the study of West African Social Dance and Music on traditional drums and the African xylophone. E-mail Neil Dunn
K-State welcomes Jack Johnson as our 2021-22 Graduate Teaching Assistant for the percussion studio and band program. Jack completed his degree at UW-Eau Claire, where he studied with Dr. Jeff Crowell. Jack brings a wealth of experiences to the position. As a chamber/orchestral musician, he has performed at a recent PASIC, with multiple professional orchestras, and many other projects. His experience in the marching activity is extensive, including performance and instructional credits with numerous drum corps, indoor lines, and high school lines. In addition to his music/liberal arts studies, he graduated from UW-EC with a degree in organizational communication and has business experience such as an internship with Dynasty Percussion.