Benjamin Toth

Benjamin Toth headshot

Professor of Percussion; Chair of Percussion; HCD Percussion Department Head

HCD Music, Instrumental Studies

Hartt Community Division, The Hartt School
860.768.5253 F 215

MM, University of Illinois

BM, University of Akron

Benjamin Toth, Professor of Percussion at The University of Hartford’s Hartt School, and recipient of the 2021 Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching, has presented concerts, radio and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs in dozens of countries, spanning six continents.  His performances have been described as “tour de force” (Gramophone), “riveting” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Beaumont Enterprise), “powerful” (Louisville Courier-Journal), “primal” (Die Rheinpfalz), “enchanting” (Kornwestheimer Zeitung), “beautiful and unusual” (Washington Post), “passionate” (Westfalen Blatt), “absolutely precise” (Marburger Neue Zeitung), “hugely virtuosic” (BBC magazine), “awe-inspiring” (Saginaw News), and “breathtaking” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

His varied musical interests are reflected in his performance credits, highlights of which include: chamber music performances with (Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame inductees) Percussion Group Cincinnati (member, 1987-1992), the Jovan Percussion Projekt (member, 1996-present), Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (member, 1985-86), Myriad (Cleveland Orchestra-based ensemble, 1993), and Conundrum (with composer/pianist David Macbride, 1992-2018), and duo performances with marimbist/composer Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic, bassist Robert Black, violinist Catherine Tait, and soprano/composer Susan Botti; concerto appearances with the Cincinnati, Lake Forest, Greensboro, Midland (MI), and Peoria (IL) Symphony Orchestras, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble; orchestral and ensemble work with the Sinfonia da Camera, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the Milwaukee Ballet; percussion and drum set work for regional theaters and national tours of Broadway musicals for the Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage, Kenley Players, and Bushnell Theater, and for many touring artists, including Red Skelton, William Warfield, Mitzi Gaynor, Carol Lawrence, Bob Crosby, and the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

His performance venues have included Ravinia, the Walker Arts Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Symphony Space, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Dagbe Arts Centre (Ghana), the Encontro Internacional de Percussao (Brazil), the Fifth International Percussion Workshop (Poland), the Festival Bicich Nastroju (Czech Republic), the June in Buffalo festival (with composer Steve Reich), Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany), Glasbeni Maj v Pomurju festival (Slovenia), Nomus Music Festivities (Serbia), the Lithuanian National Philharmonic concert series, the inaugural Australian Drum and Percussion Festival, the Gudong Guoyin international percussion festival (Beijing), the John Cage Centennial Festival (Washington, D.C.), the College Band Directors National Association national convention, and Percussive Arts Society International Conventions (sixteen appearances, including collaborations with composers Herbert Brun and John Cage).  In addition, Toth served as host and coordinator (as well as conductor and performer) for: “A John Cage Retrospective” - the New Music/Research Day of the 1999 PASIC; “Out of Africa: exploring African influence in contemporary percussion music” - the “Focus Day” of the 2008 PASIC; and co-host (and performer) for the 2012 PASIC "John Cage Centennial Celebration".  He has recorded for the Albany, Arabesque, Bis, Centaur, Equilibrium, GIA, Hartt, Innova, Musica Europea, Naxos, TNC and Yesa labels, having appeared on twenty recordings.

He has amassed more than 40 years of experience performing, directing, and arranging for steel drum bands, including a five-week residency in Trinidad in order to perform in the 2000 Panorama (Trinidad National Steel Band Competition) with Robert Greenidge and the “Solo Pan Knights”.  He spent January 2008, January 2013, and January 2018, studying West African percussion in Ghana, including gyil playing with Bernard Woma, and Ewe barrel drumming with the Agbeli family.

He has studied classical percussion with Thomas Siwe (University of Illinois), Larry Snider (University of Akron), and Donald Miller (Cleveland Orchestra); drum-set with Bob McKee (Cleveland, Ohio); and world percussion with John Amira and Johnny Almendra (Cuban and Haitian percussion), Joseph Galeota (African drumming), Rogerio Boccato (Brazilian percussion), Shane Shanahan (hand drumming), and Glen Velez (frame drumming).  Toth previously served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music as a member of ensemble-in-residence, Percussion Group Cincinnati.  He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and Jazz Studies (double major) from the University of Akron, and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois.  Benjamin Toth is a Yamaha performing artist.  He uses mallets made by Innovative Percussion and plays Zildjian cymbals.