Jack Van Geem retired as Principal Percussionist and Assistant Timpanist with the San Francisco Symphony in 2012, a position he held for 32 years. He is Chairman of Percussion Studies at San Francisco Conservatory where he has taught since 1991. He taught at The Colburn School in Los Angeles from 2006 to 2015. Having taught at nearly every ZMF event since 2001, Jack estimates that, all told, he has spent half a year of his life at ZMF! He also serves as its Vice President.
Van Geem began playing the marimba at age four. He studied percussion with Tony Cirone and Jerome Neff earning his Master of Arts degree from California State University at Hayward. He studied contemporary percussion performance with Cristoph Caskel in Germany in the mid-70s on a scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley. Following that, he was percussionist for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra for five years until he won the SFS position.
Jack Van Geem
is the author/composer of five books:
- Romantic Encounters for Marimba - from the guitar music of Francisco Tarrega (Transcr. for marimba by JVG)
- Marimba Master Class on Works by Schwantner, Schuller, and Bach
- Symphonic Repertoire for Keyboard Percussion
- Four Mallet Democracy
- Rags and Hot Choruses
In 2013, he released his first solo marimba CD: "Jack Van Geem/Works In Wood" featuring music of Latin American composers including Alejandro Vinao, Ginastera and Piazzolla. Previously, he released a duo marimba CD with Nancy Zeltsman, "Pedro and Olga Learn to Dance." The publication Advanced Unaccomapnied Solos for Marimba, Volume V (Edited by Anthony J. Cirone) includes a CD of Van Geem performing many works of Bach.
Before deciding on a career in music, Van Geem thought he would be a doctor and spent many hours studying anatomy and physiology. An avid cyclist, he typically rides thousands of miles a year. He (himself!) built a retirement home in Mendocino, California (completed in 2015). He builds fine furniture, and is also experienced in winemaking.
See Jack perform Darren Jones' Jack in the Box.
Photo: Nancy Zeltsman