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Contact Information

(615) 322-7669
1188 Blair

Office Hours

By appointment.


B.S. (Mount Senario College); M.A. (Eastern Illinois)

Michael Holland

Senior Lecturer in Percussion

Michael Patrick Holland is a classically trained percussionist who straddles the ephemeral boundaries between percussion, theater, and movement.

Over a 20-year period, Holland developed his cross-disciplinary “vortex” curriculum, which he has taken to numerous university percussion ensembles. He currently serves on the music faculty of Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where he is artistic director of VORTEX percussion, a group he describes as “a playground of invention, a virtual sandbox inviting actors, dancers, composers, engineers — artists of all stripes  —to 'play' in the sand.”

Holland immerses students in the great classic works of the early percussion composers by providing deep connection and context to the time in which the music was created. Toward this end, in 2012 he brokered a landmark agreement to bring one-third of the members of the former Merce Cunningham Dance Company — John Cage’s lifelong collaborators — to perform with VORTEX in a critically acclaimed centennial Cage celebration.

As a producer of cutting-edge percussion concerts, Holland is regarded for his ability to curate and create striking multifaceted percussion events that incorporate lighting design, staging, film, modern dance, uncommon collaborations, and the unexpected use of architectural elements throughout the performance venue.

From an early age, Holland studied music on equal terms with drama and movement, anticipating a career that would meld these disciplines into a unique hybrid. Today, his most interesting projects take shape in the creative nexus where percussion and broad, theatrical concepts merge. Holland is passionately committed to preparing percussion students for the rigors and challenges facing 21st-century graduates, and this defines his drive to push the nature of presentation beyond rote academic convention.

Holland's freelance classical percussion credits include numerous performances and recordings with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera Orchestra, the American Composers’ Forum, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (N.Y.), the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, and the Nashville Symphony. He has worked with the Bolshoi, Joffrey, American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco Ballet. He was a section percussionist with the Spoleto and Waterloo festival orchestras and a pit drummer for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater and world-renowned Guthrie Theater. He has worked with Marvin Hamlisch, Andy Williams, Jerry Lewis, the Moody Blues, and Doc Severinsen. Mime artist Michael Hennessy, Xelias Aerial Performance Company, and Circus Juventus sought him for his ability to respond with split-second timing to live performance.

Cirque du Soleil cast him as “King Bamboo” in Dralion, where he was the first American percussionist, featured taiko drummer, and drum captain. He performed and toured for five seasons in CRASH, founded by visionary composer and producer Mary Ellen Childs, and continues to produce new projects with her.  

Holland did his undergraduate training at the University of Wisconsin and Mount Senario College, where he received his BS degree in Music Education. He went on to study under Johnny Lane at Eastern Illinois University and received his MA degree in percussion performance. He completed several years of additional study with Paula Culp of the Minnesota Orchestra, and Earl Yowell of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Holland is an endorsing artist for Vic Firth Percussion.