Director of Percussion and Conductor of Percussion Ensembles

Joe Bergen is a musician, educator, composer, and arts administrator who focuses on creating and developing diverse and equitable music communities. Joe is best known as a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Mantra Percussion, Inc., a future-focusing arts organization dedicated to a lasting influence on percussion performance and percussion education. In addition to Joe’s recent appointment as director of percussion at the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Joe is the director of percussion studies, adjunct music education professor, and marching band instructor at Caldwell University. He is also an adjunct music instructor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, and the NJ state chapter president of the Percussive Arts Society.

Joe has recorded for film, TV, radio, and video game soundtracks, released nearly two dozen recordings on various record labels, and has toured North America, Asia, and Europe. Highlight performances include featured artist on the San Fransico Symphony’s American Mavericks series and pulitzer-prize winning composer David Lang’s Collected Stories series at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall’s REDCAT theater in Los Angeles, the Right Now festival in Seoul, Korea, and Sacrum Profanum series in Krakow, Poland. He has presented educational workshops for Carnegie Hall, the New Jersey Music Educators Association, the Percussive Arts Society, and Mannes Conservatory of Music. His compositions have been performed by students and professional ensembles around the country.

Joe’s most recent project featured him in a new role as manager and producer for the percussion ensemble Recap Quartet, a group of former students from Mantra Youth Percussion. Recap’s debut album, “Count to Five,” garnered national attention, making National Public Radio’s Top 10 Classical Albums of the Year, top 100 Songs of the Year, and featured story on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Joe’s latest project features him again in a new role as part of the production and writing team for a forthcoming film about the Alaska Beringia region, created through interdisciplinary artistic collaboration with musicians and composers, Native Alaskan artists & storytellers, and environmental scientists. The project seeks to address the cultural, economic, and environmental challenges faced by the Alaskan Beringia region while celebrating its incredible cultural and biological diversity and natural beauty. The project is produced by Found Sound Nation, a program funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, with additional support made possible by a grant from the National Parks Service.

Joe is a doctoral student at Boston University, studying music education. His research interests include community-music, interdisciplinary studies, and preservice teacher education. Joe cites his love for teaching music from his early experiences performing in youth orchestras, marching bands, percussion ensembles, and drum and bugle corps. He is thrilled to work with the next generation of musicians at NJYS!