Profiles in Percussion with Chicago Symphony Percussionist Patsy Dash

Profiles in Percussion with Chicago Symphony Percussionist Patsy Dash

 Artist Spotlight with Patricia Dash

As a long time percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Patsy Dash has been a trailblazer since she began her percussion journey. She graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati for her master's degree and landed her first job with the Florida Orchestra in Tampa-St. Petersburg and quickly auditioned and won the job with the CSO at a young age of 24.

Keith Aleo (who was a classmate of Patsy's at Eastman) caught up with Dash to talk about her life in music, from her early teachers to winning the job in Chicago.


Patricia Dash was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti in 1986 at age 24. Born in Rochester, New York, she began her percussion studies at the age of nine. She received a diploma with honors and a certificate of merit from the Eastman School of Music’s Preparatory Department in 1979, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree with distinction from Eastman in 1983. Her teachers included John Beck, Ruth Cahn, Allen Otte, Richard Jensen and Doug Howard. While in college, she performed as an extra with both the Rochester Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony orchestras.

Dash came to Chicago from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida, where she held the position of principal percussionist. She has since performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Chicago Pro Musica, the CSO Trombone Ensemble, the Ensemble Intercontemporain of Paris, and in numerous CSO chamber music concerts at Orchestra Hall.

In 1995, she initiated the CSO’s Percussion Scholarship Program (PSP). PSP offers gifted young students in Chicago weekly percussion instruction on a full scholarship basis and performs throughout the year at Symphony Center. The group has also appeared at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, on WTTW, on WGN and WFMT radio, NPR’s From the Top, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference, and as soloists with the CSO’s youth concerts series.

When not performing with the Orchestra or teaching, Dash enjoys spending time with her son and three cats. She is married to fellow percussionist Doug Waddell, who is a member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera Orchestra and is the co-leader of the Percussion Scholarship Program with Dash.