Drummer, Percussionist, Composer, Producer and Entrepreneurial Leader Gary France lives in Canberra Australia. As a Drumset Artist he has performed with Bennie Maupin, James Morrison, Richie Cole, Nat Adderley, Dale Barlow, Jim McNeeley, Urbie Green, John Clayton, Emily Remler, Peter Leutch, Phil Wilson, Clifford Jordan and numerous others. Gary is also well known as the founder and artistic director of the 18 piece Perth Jazz Orchestra as well as drummer with the nationally acclaimed western swing group Dude Ranch featuring Grammy winner Lucky Oceans.
As an Orchestral Contemporary Percussionist he has performed with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonic, performing as soloist in Toru Takemitsu’s concerto “From Me Flows What You Call Time”, the Nova Ensemble, the West Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestras, the Dallas Brass, the Doddworth Saxhorn Ensemble, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Canberra Symphony with whom he performed William Kraft’s “Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra”. Gary’s list of recent world premiers include works by Larry Sitsky, Sir Michael Tippet, Sandra France, Roger Smalley, Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, Robert Cucinotta, Edward Applebaum and Robert Casteels. As an International Clinician for Yamaha Musical Products, Remo, the Zildjian Cymbal Company and Innovative Percussion Products he has toured presenting master classes, concerts and workshops throughout the U.S.A, Canada, Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Brazil and New Zealand, Mexico and most recently Cuba.
Gary France’s leadership positions included:Founder/Directot of the Groove Warehouse, Senior Editor of PERCUSscene Magazine, President PAS Australia Chapter, International Board of Directors PAS, Distinguished Artist in Residence and Associate Professor at the Australian National University, Board of Directors SPEAK Percussion and is the Artistic / Educational Director of the Gary France Academy of Drumming and Percussion. As a Composer / Sound Artist: Gary’s most recent projects have included composing the sound design and music for the Australian premiere production of QED by Peter Parnell (West Wing), Video Phase by Steve Reich with performances at the Taiwan- Australia New Media Art Symposium (AUS 2006) and KOSA International Percussion Festival (USA 2006), collaborative composition and performance for the Southeast Asian segment of the Opening Ceremonies (15th Asian Games DOHA 2006), the New Directions Music Festival (Singapore 2005) Busan International Music Festival (South Korea 2018) as well as the Australian Percussion Gathering (2010). As a Guest Speaker: Gary France has presented Keynote Addresses to the Australia Britain Society, ASME, AMBOC, ABODA, Maryborough Music Conference (2019) and numerous national music educator forums and societies. Gary France was co-founder of the ACT Music Educators Network.
Credentials: He received his Bachelor of Music degree, Music Education / Performance, in 1979, from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, and his Master of Music degree, Orchestral Performance / Jazz, in 1988 at the University of North Texas. While at UNT Gary became was not only awarded several competitive teaching fellowships in classical percussion but was also selected as the first and only drummer/percussionist, in the fifty-year history of the program, to direct the prestigious Jazz Lab Bands (6 O’Clock and 9 O’Clock bands). Gary France has done much, through his dedicated teaching performing and entrepreneurial leadership, to significantly raise the profile of percussion playing in Australia.
Gary Maintanes a professional studio in the Groove Warehouse, Canberra complete with broadcast and live streaming facilities. International artist Virgil Donati described the Groove Warehouse as “The Greatest Drum Teaching Facility in the World.
Gary France has conducted field research in India (1993), Indonesia (1994) Africa (1999) and Brazil (2007). He shares his enthusiam with students through the various World Music Ensembles he directs as well as the various special master schools and workshops that he convenes and conducts.
His new media projects have included composing the sound design and music for the Australian premiere production of QED by Peter Parnell (West Wing), Video Phase by Steve Reich with performances at the Taiwan- Australia New Media Art Symposium (AUS 2006) and KOSA International Percussion Festival (USA 2006), collaborative composition and performance for the Southeast Asian segment of the Opening Ceremonies (15th Asian Games DOHA 2006), and the New Directions Music Festival (Singapore 2005).
Drummer for Cher, Marilyn Manson, Smash Mouth, New York Dolls, Chris Cornell and Foreigner among others.
” Gary taught me the importance of focusing on the pocket and efficiency at a very young age. His lessons where really fun and inspirational and just what I needed at the crucial point as a young student!” I still remember him showing up for our first lesson, I was probably 11 and the first thing he did was remove my second mounted rack tom so he could get the ride cymbal closer and so I would focus on a four piece kit. As a kid I was mortified because I wanted “more” of everything but to be honest it was one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned and I’ve never put that other tom back up after all these years!”
Lecturer Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
I’m doing Lion king at the moment…All that stuff you taught me about percussion and even that first lesson where you played a guaguanco on congas and I thought…hey I’d like to be able to do that..it’s all helped..Thanks for all the great lessons.
Describing Gary’s 1986 appointment in Australia by eminent Australian musician Richard Gill, in his 2012 book “Give Me Excess of It” “The Musical Tornado Gary France had an almost immediate impact on percussion nationally” performance.
WA Conservatorium 1988
Gary France directed the Australian World Rhythms Festival