Jonathan Hepfer

Grad Art


Jonathan Hepfer is a percussionist, conductor, and curator specializing in avant-garde and experimental music. He began playing classical music at age 17 after discovering the work of John Cage while studying at SUNY Buffalo. Subsequently, Jonathan attended Oberlin Conservatory, UC – San Diego and the Musikhochschule Freiburg (with the support of a two-year DAAD fellowship), where he studied with Michael Rosen (craft), Steven Schick (interpretation) and Bernhard Wulff (metaphysics), respectively. Other major influences have included Jan Williams (aesthetics), Lewis Nielson (ethics), Brian Alegant (analysis), and William O’Brien (philosophy), Hamza Walker (visual art) and Margaret Morgan (critical theory). 

Jonathan is the artistic director of Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, on which he performs regularly. There, he has directed performances of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, Philip Glass's Glassworks, Pierre Boulez's sur Incises, Gérard Grisey's Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, Salvatore Sciarrino's Aspern Suite, as well as Julius Eastman's Femenine and The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc.

He has also taken part in the US premieres of major works by Salvatore Sciarrino, György Kurtág, Rolf Riehm, Jo Kondo, Aldo Clementi, Klaus Lang, Ramon Lazkano, Francisco Guerrero, Thomas Meadowcroft and Simon Steen-Andersen. His chamber music collaborators have included Marino Formenti, Alexi Lubimov, Séverine Ballon, Jay Campbell, and Kim Kashkashian.

Jonathan is the founder and artistic director of the chamber ensemble ECHOI. He is also a member of the percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, and has collaborated with ensembles such as Ensemble Mosaik, Ensemble SurPlus, asamisimasa, hand werk, the Formalist Quartet, PALIMPSEST, the Slee Sinfonietta, ICE and Signal.  From 2011-13, he was a member of the Freiburg Percussion Ensemble, which regularly toured central Europe, as well as Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia and Ukraine.

As a soloist, Jonathan has focused extensively on the works of the composers Pierluigi Billone, Walter Zimmermann, Iannis Xenakis, Brian Ferneyhough, Helmut Lachenmann, Giacinto Scelsi, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Georges Aperghis and Vinko Globokar.  He has given solo performances at the Stone in New York, Harvard University, the Tonhalle Düsseldorf (Germany), the Odessa Philharmonic Theater (Ukraine), and the National History Museum in Ulan Bator (Mongolia).

Notable projects have included performing Pierre Boulez' Le marteau sans maître in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Israel and New York (often under the direction of the composer), music-directing a live performance of Samuel Beckett's radio play Words and Music in Los Angeles, performing Morton Feldman's Crippled Symmetry and For Philip Guston in Buffalo, San Diego, Freiburg, and Marfa (Texas), and performing in a production of Shakespeare's Othello at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, directed by Barry Edelstein.

Jonathan has participated in academic residencies at Harvard, Oberlin, SUNY Buffalo, and the universities of Minnesota, Huddersfield and Leeds.  He has contributed articles and liner notes to Percussive Notes, Kairos and Die Musik von Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf.  Jonathan has also had the privilege of documenting the oral histories of the pioneer generation of percussion soloists (namely, Christoph Caskel, Sylvio Gualda, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Gaston Sylvestre, Maurizio Ben-Omar and Jan Williams).

Recently, he has published interviews with composers Meredith Monk, Steve Reich and Éliane Radigue for Autre, Kaleidoscope and Purple magazines, respectively. 

From 2015-2018, he served on the faculty of CalArts.