Bill Sallak

percussion • research • creation

Stuart Saunders Smith's  Family Portraits: Delbert (great-grandfather)  at San Francisco Art Institute, 2013.

Stuart Saunders Smith's Family Portraits: Delbert (great-grandfather) at San Francisco Art Institute, 2013.

I've been a percussionist for almost 30 years, and I think my favorite thing about being one is that the percussionist's role in the Western tradition is to be on the front lines of engagement with the new and unfamiliar. (On the other hand, my favorite aspect of being a percussionist might be getting to hit things in a manner that's socially acceptable—and perhaps even welcome.)

To that end, I'm involved in a number of rewarding pursuits:

• I'm an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where I teach applied percussion, recording technology, and direct the Percussion Ensemble and Hand Drumming Ensemble.

• Before coming to Wisconsin, I held a position as Associate Professor of Dance at Kent State University, where I accompaned dance classes, trained interested students in the art of dance class accompaniment, and engaged in collaborative ventures with colleagues in dance, theatre, and music. Over the years at various institutions, I've also taught college courses in percussion, contemporary music, musicology, rock history, jazz history, world music, electronic music, audio engineering, music for dancers, and physics.

• I'm a member of the Akros Percussion Collective, which performs vital and important experimental music for percussion.

• I'm the composer and sound designer for Theatre Engine: Flashmob, an interactive theatre environment that uses technology and play to engage audiences.


• I'm a music technologist who works primarily with Ableton Live and Max/MSP, especially interested in production and performance with real-time processing.

• I'm also an audio engineer, primarily interested in classical recording techniques. I've worked at KBAQ-FM (Phoenix, AZ) and the Interlochen Center for the Arts; artists I've worked with include James Galway, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell, William Preucil, Sharon Isbin, Paul Winter, the Pacifica String Quartet, and conductors Gerard Schwarz, David Lockington, and Tim Russell.

• I have been recorded on and written liner notes for releases on Neuma, New World, and 11 West Records.

• I'm a member of the Percussive Arts Society, and serve on its New Music/Research Committee.

• I'm an independent scholar and artist, currently engaged with phenomenologies of performative silence, the music of Stuart Saunders Smith, Bach performance at the marimba, marimba mallet design, and composing the occasional solo or chamber piece.

• I'm proud to hold degrees from SUNY-Fredonia (BM, BS), The University of Akron (MM), and Arizona State University (DMA).

• My down time largely revolves around reading, cooking, chess, watching hockey, petting the cats, and brewing coffee in increasingly exotic ways.

• I endorse Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drum heads and percussion products, Cympads, and Drumdots, and am a member of the Black Swamp Education Network.

• Please contact me for official bios/CV.

As director, I wanted Bill to join the artistic team as his skills in music composition and technology made him perfect for this highly integrated and cross-disciplinary project. Bill’s ability to translate creative dreams into artistic fact is, without doubt, the reason for the success of FlashMob.
— Alison Dobbins, Head of Design and Technology, Dept. of Theatre, Michigan State University

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