Four time Grammy Award winner, Glen Velez is the founding Father of the modern Frame Drum movement and is regarded as a legendary figure among musicians and audiences world-wide. Velez brought a new genre of drumming to the contemporary music scene by creating his own performance style inspired by years of percussion and frame drumming studies from various cultures. Velez's virtuosic combinations of hand movements, finger techniques, along with his original compositional style, which incorporates stepping, drum language and Central Asian Overtone singing (split-tone singing), has undoubtedly opened new possibilities for musicians around the globe, resulting in a shift in modern percussion.
Velez is the first percussionist to gain international recognition as a successful solo artist using frame drums. In 1989 Velez’s undeniable mastery caught the attention of twentieth century composer John Cage, who wrote Composed Improvisation for One-Sided Drum with or without Jingles especially for Velez. Adorned with a rich international artistic legacy his plethora of sounds have inspired decades of collaborations with an epic and eclectic list, including Steve Reich, the Paul Winter Consort, Suzanne Vega, Maya Beiser, Tan Dun and Pat Metheny. Other collaborations include: Israel Philharmonia, Brooklyn Philharmonia, Opera Orchestra of New York, Taipei Chinese Orchestra, Zakir Hussain, Sonny Fortune, New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, David Darling, Howard Levy, Eugene Friesen and Coleman Barks. Live performances also include radio concerts and interviews broadcasted on Spanish National Radio 4, German Public Radio, Italian National Radio 3, Radio Freistadt (Austria). Velez maintains an International touring schedule as a soloist and continues to collaborate with prominent artists in many styles. His Ta Ka Di Mi Duo with Rhythm Vocalist Lori Cotler has garnered critical and audience acclaim around the world over the last 5 years.
Velez is a prolific session musician and his signature sound can be heard on numerous films, television commercials and modern dance scores. He is also an experienced collaborator in Early Music, including a renown recording with the Ensemble for Early Music entitled Istampita. Velez has recorded on hundreds of albums on ECM, CBS, RCA, GRP, Warner Brothers, Deutsche Gramophone, Geffen, Nonesuch, Capital, CMP, Music of the World, Sounds True, Interworld, Ellipsis Arts. Daftof Records and Sony. In addition he has released numerous recordings of his own music. Glen's most recent 2009 recordings are Glen Velez Solo and Breathing Rhythms Duo - Glen Velez and Lori Cotler (Daftof records).
Glen is a prolific composer whose compositions have been used extensively by dance companies and he has written numerous compositions for his own ensembles as well as chamber music for various combinations. His compositions have been commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation, Jerome Foundation, American Music Center and Reader's Digest. Velez wrote a solo cello piece for Cellist Maya Beiser, entitled Kinship, which Beiser chose as the title for one of her recent CD's. Another of Glens compositions, Sol Tunnels, was commissioned by the Ethos Percussion Ensemble and is the title for one of their new recordings. In 2009 the Ensemble DuoJalal premiered his composition Homage for Viola and Frame Drum. He has been commissioned in 2010 by the Lark String Quartet to compose a piece for String Quartet and Frame Drum.
Velez has several instructional videos and has published numerous instructional books and articles on the subject. He is a master teacher who conducts workshops worldwide. Velez developed his own teaching approach called The Handance Method. It incorporates voice and body movement into the process of learning to play the frame drum and has been presented in hundreds of universities and conservatories. Velez is an adjunct professor at Mannes School of Music in New York City and conducts regular master classes at The Juilliard School and Tanglewood Summer Music Program. Glens groundbreaking research efforts into the history of the Frame Drum has inspired a host of his protZgZto continue the quest into the mystery of the frame drums origins.