Steve Hemphill (b. 1956), Professor Emeritus of Percussion, and long-time Director of Percussion Studies at Northern Arizona University (since 1991; retired 2022), and former Coordinator of Winds and Percussion, earned the Bachelor of Music and the Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, where he was a University Teaching Fellow. Dr. Hemphill has taught at New York State University College at Geneseo, the University of Rochester (New York), the University of Wyoming (serving as Assistant Director of Bands and percussion instructor), and at Florida State University (as Visiting Professor).
His performance credentials include collaborations with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Opera Metropolitiana C.A., Ballet de Caracas, Fundacion Teresa Carreno Opera Company, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Municipal of Caracas, Venezuela (principal timpanist, 1979-1982), the Savannah Symphony, the Tallahassee Symphony (principal percussionist), the Phoenix Symphony, the Flagstaff Festival of the Arts Orchestra (principal percussionist), the Flagstaff Symphony Summer Ensemble, the Wagner Ring Cycle Orchestra-Arizona Opera (principal percussionist), and the Colorado Philharmonic. He performed as principal timpanist of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra for twenty-five years (1991-2016) and for twelve years as principal percussionist with the “Music in the Mountains” Festival Orchestra in Durango/ Purgatory, Colorado (2003-2015).
Dr. Hemphill has performed in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and a number of European cities. Through various venues, he has performed with a variety of jazz and entertainment artists including Freddie Hubbard, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Shirley McLaine, Roger Williams, New York Voices, Buddy DeFranco, Al Martino, Trini Lopez, Jim Bailey, among numerous musical and operatic stage productions. Other collaborations include the Animas Music Festival, the Western Arts Music Festival, the Theurer/Hemphill Trumpet & Percussion Duo, the Arizona Repertory Singers, performances at the International Trumpet Guild Conference and the International Clarinet Society Conference, and as a founding member of the Atlanta Percussion Trio (Young Audiences, Inc.). He has served as a clinician, adjudicator, or conductor in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. In 1994, 2004, and 2009, Dr. Hemphill served as an adjudicator for the Percussive Arts Society International Composition Competition.
He has recorded on the Telarc, Grenadilla, Orion, Mercury Golden Imports, Toshiba EMI, Albuzerxque, and Carl Fischer Publishing labels. Dr. Hemphill is a past president and vice-president of the Arizona chapter of the Percussive Arts Society, a past president of the Wyoming chapter of the Percussive Arts Society, and is Associate Producer/Director (with Mark Yancich) of The Art of Timpani instructional video series, including “Changing and Tuning Plastic Timpani Heads,” “Tucking Calfskin Timpani Heads” (with Cloyd Duff), and “Sewing Felt Timpani Sticks.”
Professional interests in world music and cultures have led Dr. Hemphill to visitations and research in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Trinidad and a number of other Caribbean islands, several countries of the Far East (listed previously), Italy, Sicily, France, England, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. He has published articles in Percussive Notes, Percussive News, Rhythm! Scene, The PAS Educators’ Companion, The Instrumentalist, The International Association of Jazz Educators Journal, Arizona Music News (AMEA), and a number of state-wide educational newsletters in Georgia and Arizona. He has presented/performed at the National Music Educators National Conference (MENC), the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), the College Music Society National Conference, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association National Conference (AOSA), MENC Northwest, Society of Composers National Conference, the Aspen Music Festival and School, Arizona PAS, the Mark Yancich Timpani Seminar, and frequently at AMEA In-Service Conferences (Arizona). He contributed materials to the publication of A Dictionary for the Modern Percussionist and Drummer by James A. Strain, published by Rowman & Littlefield, and he contributed testing materials for the eminent pedagogical book Teaching Percussion by Gary D. Cook, the enhanced third edition, published by Cengage Learning. For twenty years, he served on the faculty for the annual Atlanta Percussion Seminar at Emory University 1990-2010 and for four years he served on the faculty of the annual Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Percussion Seminar (2013-2016). For several years, he served as chair of the orchestra committee (and ex-officio voting member of the Board of Directors) for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and as an ex-officio member of the Arizona Music Educators Association Board of Directors, responsible for Multi-Cultural Awareness.
Dr. Hemphill is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Kappa Phi, Kappa Kappa Psi (Honorary), and has served as Province Governor for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He has served on the national Percussive Arts Society University Pedagogy Committee, the PAS Composition Competition Committee, and he began serving as the Professional Adviser to the inaugural PAS University (formerly Collegiate) Committee in 2003 until 2021. Dr. Hemphill served as lead developer and presenter for the 2010 PAS College Pedagogy Committee Mentoring Day seminar (Indianapolis, IN), created for pre-tenure collegiate percussion instructors and graduate percussion students, and served as chair of the PAS University Pedagogy Committee’s subcommittee national project “PAS Teaching Analysis for the University Percussion Instructor” which paired emerging university percussion faculty and doctoral students with renowned percussion pedagogues through video lesson analyses and commentary. He has served as chair of percussion studies for the NAU Curry Summer Music Camp program (1992-2020). At Northern Arizona University, Dr. Hemphill focused his teaching in applied percussion studies, percussion ensemble, music education percussion techniques courses, pedagogy and literature in percussion, and drum set techniques and pedagogy. In addition, his curriculum interests include business of music, contemporary music literature, contemporary music ensemble, jazz pedagogy, and graduate seminars in percussion and 20th century music. Hemphill's primary teachers included John H. Beck, Gary Werdesheim, James Peterscak, Charles Budesheim, James Massie Johnson, George Clasgens, and Bill Clark (St. Louis Symphony), with ancillary studies with Leigh Howard Stevens, Cloyd Duff, Ted Moore, and Mark Yancich.