Percussionist Dr. Christopher Whyte has emerged as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most engaging performers and educators. He is currently Acting Head of Percussion Studies at Portland State University during the sabbatical leave of Dr. Joel Bluestone. Since 2011, he has been Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at Western Oregon University. He is co-founder of the Portland Percussion Group, a contemporary percussion quartet based in Portland, Oregon which strives to foster and promote percussion performance through engaging concerts and educational outreach. The Portland Percussion Group is active in developing relationships with new composers and the commissioning of new works throughout the Northwest region. To date, the PPG has aided in the creation of over sixty new works for chamber percussion ensemble. Whyte is also co-director of the Portland Summer Percussion Academy, a residential summer camp for high school percussionists focusing on a broad range of western and non-western percussion styles, as well as a founding member of the International Percussion Institute which takes place each summer at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
He performs frequently in the Portland area as a freelance percussionist and timpanist with The Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera Orchestra, Oregon Ballet Theater, Third Angle Contemporary Ensemble, FearNoMusic, The Bach Cantata Choir, The Portland Symphonic Choir and the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Additional performance credits include the Vancouver Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, Astoria Music Festival, Atlantic Symphony, the New Bedford Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Newport Symphony, ALEA III contemporary music ensemble and the Boston Civic Symphony. The Boston Musical Intelligencer called Whyte’s playing “a striking diversity of styles and spirit.” He has worked closely with composers William Kraft, Pauline Oliveros, Sarah Hennies, Allen Strange, Stephen Taylor, Michael Johanson, Mendel Lee and Gabriela Lena Frank, among others and is personally active in the commissioning of new music for percussion. Chris has works published through Tapspace, MSC, Matrix, and Bachovich publishing companies. He has performed live broadcasts on All-Classical Portland’s 89.9 radio station, and was a featured performer for All-Classical’s 2017 Solar Eclipse broadcast of Desmond Earley’s Body of the Moon. Chris can also be heard on Grammy-nominated recordings by the Oregon Symphony from Pentatone Classics.
Whyte is active in the Percussive Arts Society, having served as a member of the Percussion Ensemble Committee since 2015. He has also presented or performed at CMS, the Northwest regional NAfME conference, and the Midwest Clinic.
Chris has performed solo recitals and given masterclasses throughout the United States, UK and China, and has a true love of sharing his knowledge of the percussion field with students at all levels. Whyte earned degrees at the University of Oregon as a student of the late Charles Dowd, and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts in Percussion Performance from Boston University, where he was a student of Boston Symphony Principal Timpanist Timothy Genis. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist, and proudly endorses Vic Firth Drumsticks, Remo Drumheads, Zildjian Cymbals, and Black Swamp Percussion Instruments.
Chris lives in Newberg, Oregon with his wife Charlotte, their son Forrest, and their Akita, Decan.