Chris Rivera is the director of bands at Norwalk High School. His responsibilities include directing the award winning marching band, 3 concert bands, 2 jazz ensembles, jazz combo, musical pit orchestra, a nationally competitive winter guard and winter percussion ensemble as well as a locally competitive AAA guard.
Chris studied as a percussion major at Western Connecticut State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education in 2002. In 2005 Chris earned a Master of Arts degree in Music Theory from the University of Connecticut where he was a graduate assistant teaching Honors Music Theory and Ear Training. He has performed with groups/artists such as Dave Samuels, Arthur Lipner, Janis Potter, Gordon Stout, Jeff Hellmer, Nebojsa Zivkovic, Leigh Howard Stevens, and the New Haven Symphony.
From 2002-2009 Chris was the percussion caption head and arranger at Trumbull High School (Trumbull, CT). The Trumbull Indoor Percussion Ensemble was an Open class finalist at WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio every year since 2006; and recently (2008 and 2009) the ensemble earned two back-to-back 2nd place silver medals. Chris has written for and consulted with many area High School bands, College Ensembles, Theatres, and Drum Corps.
In 2010 Chris became the new band director at his alma mater, Norwalk High School in Norwalk, CT. His duties include supervising the marching band, 3 concert bands, 2 jazz ensembles, 2 winter guard, indoor percussion ensemble and the pit orchestra. The Norwalk indoor percussion ensemble was a WGI World Championships A class finalist in 2010 and an Open class finalist every year since 2011. In 2014 the ensemble won the WGI Silver Medal and the WGI Bronze Medal in 2015.
Chris has judged numerous marching bands, state and regional music festivals for CMEA, USSBA and MAC. He is a member of the WGI Percussion Advisory Board and is an executive board member and percussion coordinator for the Musical Arts Conference (MAC).
Chris is an artist for Yamaha Marching Percussion and REMO drumheads as well as an education team member for Vic Firth.
Check out this impressive list of accomplishments for Norwalk's Ensembles!
- 2015 Winter Guard International World Championship Bronze Medalist, Percussion
- 2015 Winter Guard International World Championship Finalists, Guard
- 2015 Musical Arts Conference Winter Guard Open Class, 1st Place
- 2015 Musical Arts Conference Percussion Scholastic Open, 1st Place
- 2014 Musical Arts Conference Champion, National Class, 1st Place
- 2014 USBands Open Class National Championship at MetLife Stadium, National Class, 1st Place
- 2014 Winter Guard International World Championship Silver Medalist, Percussion
- 2014 Musical Arts Conference Winter Guard Open Class, 1st Place
- 2014 Musical Arts Conference Percussion Scholastic Open, 1st Place
- 2013 Musical Arts Conference Champion, National Class, 1st Place
- 2013 Winter Guard International World Championship Finalists, Guard
- 2013 Winter Guard International World Championship Finalists, Percussion
- 2012 Musical Arts Conference Champion, National Class, 1st Place
- 2012 Musical Arts Conference Winter Guard Open Class, 1st Place
- 2011 Musical Arts Conference Winter Guard Open Class, 1st Place
- 2011 Musical Arts Conference Percussion Scholastic Open, 1st place-
- 2011 Winter Guard International World Championship Finalists, Percussion
- 2011 Music in the Parks, Superior Rating, Grand Champion
- 2010 Winter Guard International World Championship Finalists, Percussion
- 2010 Musical Arts Conference Champion, Percussion Scholastic A, 1st Place
- 2010 Musical Arts Conference Champion, Color Guard Scholastic Open, 1st Place
Check out Norwalk's Marching Percussion Ensemble at these upcoming shows!
- 2/27/16 WGI Trumbull Regional
- 3/5/16 Norwalk MAC Competition
- 3/12/15 Jonathan Law MAC Competition
- 3/26/16 Shelton MAC Competition
- 4/2/16 Trumbull MAC Competition
- 4/9/16 MAC Percussion Championships
- 4/14/16 WGI World Championships, Dayton OH
Check out a video of Norwalk's Marching Percussion Ensemble from 2015!
Check out the below interview with Chris!
1. Where in Connecticut did you grow up, and what got you into playing the Drums/ Percussion?
I was born and raised right here in Norwalk, CT and am a product of the music education program of the Norwalk Public Schools. I started teaching myself piano when I was about 6 years old but in school I began with the violin in 3rd grade. I didn’t play percussion until high school. I thought it would be cool to join the high school band because my friends were in band. I went to a meeting and told the director I was interested in joining the band. He told me they didn’t have any violins in band but I could join the front ensemble. After the first rehearsal I was hooked. I know this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
2. Who are some of your favorite musicians and how did they inspire your playing?
I have always listened to a wide variety of musical styles. Throughout high school and college and I couldn’t stop listening to drum corps. I knew someday I would become a musical arranger so I would constantly listen to try to learn how the arrangers got the specifics sounds that they were looking to achieve. To relax, I really love listening to some of the old school greats: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and anything with big band jazz.
3. What is your favorite part about being a band director?
There are 2 things that I like the most. First, I love the way band brings kids together in ways that other activities cant. It creates a second family for the members. A lot of my students come from single parent families or families with serious issues. The band creates a sense of family for them and gives them a feeling of security that they might not actually get from their “real family”. Second, when a student has been struggling and finally “gets it”, that’s when I feel love done my job. The “Ah-Ha!” moment makes it all worthwhile.
4. What advice do you have to any upcoming percussionist?
- Ask questions, lots of them! The best way to learn is to ask questions from people you look up to and respect.
- Take your time and practice slowly. Success is not immediate.
- Your best friend should be your metronome.
- Set small goals for yourself. Learning an entire piece is great, but takes time. Small achievements can do wonders for the mentality of the learning process.