Chris Latournes is a multifaceted freelance percussionist and creative educator, praised for his “stirring” sound by the Boston Musical Intelligencer and sought after for his dynamic and attentive teaching style.
As an orchestral freelancer, Chris has appeared with diverse ensembles in almost all fifty states of the United States, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Brazil. Hehas played with orchestras such as the Star Wars in ConcertNorth American Tour Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic, Video Game Orchestra, American Festival Orchestra: Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions, Portland Symphony, Massachusetts Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic, Owensboro Symphony, Terra Haute Symphony, Columbus Philharmonic, New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, and the Bloomington Camerata Orchestra.
Chris has worked under many leading conductors including Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Most, Jeffrey Kahane, Hugh Wolff, Stephen Lord, Benjamin Zander, Cliff Colnot, and David Effron. He has appeared in many prestigious concert halls such as Boston's Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, Venetian Theater, Worcester's Mechanics Hall, Sanders Theatre, Woosley Hall, Musical Arts Center at Indiana University, and Bushnell Theatre. Chris has also had the pleasure of playing in major concert arenas such as the Verizon Center, AT&T Center, Amway Center, Mohegan Sun Arena, Resch Center, Rogers Arena (home of the 2010 Winter Olympics), Target Center, Verizon Wireless Arena, Las Vegas Arena, and the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Chris has been recorded on the Ravello record label. As an educator, Chris has taught percussion at Boston University as well as maintained a private studio for the past twelve years.
Originally from Windsor Locks, Connecticut, he has given percussion clinics throughout New England at Somers High School, Colchester Middle School, South Windsor High School, Windsor Locks Middle School, and the New England Conservatory of Music composition class. Chris strives to ignite a passion for music in his students, using a range of styles and approaches to help them build a strong technical foundation and a clear creative voice.
Chris’s dedication to practice and performance has brought him honors and awards including the 2009 Percussive Arts Society International Convention Orchestral Percussion Mock Audition Winner and the 2005 Percussive Arts Society Cloyd Duff Scholarship.
Chris holds a Bachelor of Music with distinction from Indiana University, a Master of Music from Boston University, as well as continued studies at New England Conservatory. His primary teachers have been John Tafoya, Kevin Bobo, Tim Genis, Will Hudgins, David Smith, and Pat Hollenbeck. He has also studied drum set with Jim Gwin, hand drumming with Mikael Ringquist, and timpani with Dan Bauch. Chris has performed in masterclasses with Richard Weiner, Dan Druckman, Will James, Ted Adkatz, Ed Stephan, Raymond Froehlich, Jim Babor, Gerald Carlyss, Frank Epstein, and Cynthia Yeh.
When not playing percussion, Chris is an accomplished page turner having turned pages for the likes of Rohan De Silva accompanying Itzhak Perlman, Olga Kern accompanying Renee Fleming, Paul Lewis accompanying Lisa Batiashvili, Lars Voigt accompanying Christian Tetzlaff, and Jonathan Biss. In his free time Chris can be found attending auto races or fishing lakes and ponds throughout New England.
Check out Chris' website!
Check out this video of Chris playing with the Zelda Symphony Orchestra!
Check out the below interview with Chris!
Growing Up in Connecticut, what got you into playing the drums?
My mother is a middle school band director and she used to put me to bed listening to Duke Ellington and Buddy Rich. My first CD was the Buddy Rich Big Band West Side Story. I got a drum set from someone that donated it to me, so I learned a bunch of different grooves, learned how to swing and tried to play along with some big band tracks. I would go see the middle school concerts and I knew a couple of the guys playing the drums and I really looked up to them and knew that's what I really wanted to do. I started at age 7, and I love playing on the practice pad. I would also play drum set, but I really enjoyed snare drum and timpani. And that's what lead me to become an orchestra percussionist.
Who are your favorite musicians, and how have they effective your style.
I grew up going to Tanglewood and always thought that Will Hudgins who is the mallet player for the Boston Symphony and Tim Genis, the timpanist, were killer players. I would watch them and see how the hold the tambourine and I remember seeing Will playing three mallet gloc, and I was in 5th grade being like, “This is so impressive.” I ended up coming full circle and studying with both of them years later. I also studied with John Tafoya when I was at Indiana University. I remember he would take the line by the throat and just rip on timpani, and it was so insane, so I took that and decided this is how I want to play.
There are some people who I consider a “death fish” percussionist that have no enthusiasm are really intimidated, and these guys never felt that way, so that's what I try to do. Whether I’m nervous or not, I don’t want anyone to know. Drum set wise, I really enjoy Buddy Rich and Steve Smith. My dad was an engineer but he was more into percussion than my mom was. So he used to take me to a bunch of rock concerts and he also took me to my first day of percussion. I remember seeing Horacio Hernandez play when I was 12 and that was a big inspiration to me.
What is your favorite part about playing in an orchestra.
There is nothing like, that cymbal moment, at the peak of the orchestra, and I get to add the icing on the cake. I also really love to play loud, big snare or timpani rolls, it really brings the intensity to the orchestra. But I also love creating different sounds. “La Mire” for instance by Debussy. There are a tons of different cymbal notes in there and you could bring 5 or 6 different cymbals just to get the right note. Same thing with triangles, instead of having 1 triangle, I have 7. Just trying to get the right timbre and color to match the orchestra. I have 5 concert snare drums and each one has its own sound and purpose. I love picking different instruments to match the sound of the orchestra.
What keeps you motive to continue playing music?
I don’t see myself doing anything else in life. I went to college for music and probably wouldn’t of gone to college if it wasn’t for music. I like entertaining people. I have friends across the country that play for different orchestras. We all get to meet up throughout the year and at PASIC. It's the camaraderie and the brotherhood that make you really feel a part of something.
What advice do you have to any upcoming percussionist?
Be really observant. I have some many students that if they just watch people on YouTube or listen to recordings, they would learn so much more. I can teach them as much as I can in that 30 or 45 minutes, but try to be exposed to any musician you can check out. It could be concert violins, a jazz trio or a classic rock concert. Keep an open mind and you can learn a lot. When I was younger going to see the Boston Pops, I would look to see how is that guy is holding the triangle or tambourine or why does that guys have his mallets over here? And you go home and apply that to your playing. As musician we are kinda like a milkshake, this is an idea from John Parks who teaches at Florida State. We never want to be like one musician, you want to have a bunch of different flavors in your milkshake. You maybe taking something from this artist and another thing from that artist and try to incorporate that in your playing. Nobody wants you to be like a one artist out there, because that artist is already out there. You’re just gonna be replicating them, which is boring. But if you take little ideas from everyone you see, you can make yourself into your own musician, and you will be more successful.