Benjamin Toth, Professor of Percussion at The Hartt School, University of Hartford, has presented concerts, radio and television broadcasts, master classes, and children’s programs in many countries, spanning six continents. His performances have been described as “tour de force” (Gramophone), “riveting” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Beaumont Enterprise), “powerful” (Louisville Courier-Journal), “primal” (Die Rheinpfalz), “enchanting” (Kornwestheimer Zeitung), “beautiful and unusual” (Washington Post), “passionate” (Westfalen Blatt), “absolutely precise” (Marburger Neue Zeitung), “hugely virtuosic” (BBC magazine), “awe-inspiring” (Saginaw News), and “breathtaking” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).
His varied musical interests are reflected in his performance credits, highlights of which include: chamber music performances with Percussion Group Cincinnati (member, 1987-1992), the Jovan Percussion Projekt (member, 1996-present), Illinois Contemporary Chamber Players (member, 1985-86), Myriad (Cleveland Orchestra-based ensemble, 1993), and Conundrum (with composer/pianist David Macbride, 1992-present), and duo performances with marimbist/composer Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic, bassist Robert Black, violinist Catherine Tait, and soprano/composer Susan Botti; concerto appearances with the Cincinnati, Lake Forest, Greensboro, Midland (MI), and Peoria (IL) Symphony Orchestras, the Symphony of Southeast Texas, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble; orchestral and ensemble work with the Sinfonia da Camera, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the Milwaukee Ballet; percussion and drum set work for regional theaters and national tours of Broadway musicals for the Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Stage, Kenley Players, and Bushnell Theater, and for several touring artists, including Red Skelton, William Warfield, Mitzi Gaynor, Carol Lawrence, Bob Crosby, and the Jimmy Dorsey Band.
His performance venues have included Ravinia, the Walker Arts Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, Symphony Space, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Dagbe Arts Centre (Ghana), the Encontro Internacional de Percussao (Brazil), the Fifth International Percussion Workshop (Poland), the Festival Bicich Nastroju (Czech Republic), the 2000 June in Buffalo festival (with composer Steve Reich), Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany), Glasbeni Maj v Pomurju festival (Slovenia), Nomus Music Festivities (Serbia), the Lithuanian National Philharmonic concert series, the inaugural Australian Drum and Percussion Festival (2014), the College Band Directors National Association national convention, and Percussive Arts Society International Conventions (thirteen appearances, including collaborations with composers Herbert Brun in 1987 and John Cage in 1990). In addition, Toth served as host and coordinator (as well as conductor and performer) for: “A John Cage Retrospective” - the New Music/Research Day of the 1999 PASIC; “Out of Africa: exploring African influence in contemporary percussion music” - the “Focus Day” of the 2008 PASIC; and co-host (and performer) for the 2012 PASIC "John Cage Centennial Celebration". He has recorded for the Albany, Arabesque, Bis, Centaur, Equilibrium, GIA, Hartt, Innova, Musica Europea, Naxos, TNC and Yesa labels, having appeared on twenty recordings.
He has amassed more than 30 years of experience performing, directing, and arranging for steel drum bands, including a five-week residency in Trinidad in order to perform in the 2000 Panorama (Trinidad National Steel Band Competition) with Robert Greenidge and the “Solo Pan Knights”. He spent January, 2008, and January, 2013, studying West African percussion in Ghana, including gyil playing with Bernard Woma, and Ewe barrel drumming with Emmanuel and Ruben Agbeli.
He has studied classical percussion with Thomas Siwe (University of Illinois), Larry Snider (University of Akron), and Donald Miller (Cleveland Orchestra); drum-set with Bob McKee (Cleveland, Ohio); and world percussion with John Amira and Johnny Almendra (Cuban and Haitian percussion), Joseph Galeota (African drumming), Rogerio Boccato (Brazilian percussion), Shane Shanahan (hand drumming), and Glen Velez (frame drumming). Toth previously served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance and Jazz Studies (double major) from the University of Akron, and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois.