Bill Schlitt is an accomplished percussion performer and educator. He has performed as a recording artist for a variety of motion pictures, television, and audio recordings and as a freelance percussionist in various ensembles and orchestras throughout Southern California, including stage productions, concerts, commercial music, and church productions. He served as Principal Percussionist with Music Theater of Southern California for 10 years and has worked with such groups as the Angeles Chorale, the Crystal Cathedral Orchestra, and the Redlands Master Chorale. He currently performs as Principal Timpanist with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra and has performed as soloist with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra and as an extra percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Bill serves on the faculty at the University of Redlands, Azusa Pacific University, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, Concordia University-Irvine, and Vanguard University. Additionally, he served on the percussion faculty of Idyllwild Arts Summer Music Festival for 26 years and on the faculty of Idyllwild Arts Academy for six years.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Bill Schlitt: I was on a career path to becoming a broadcast journalist when I added a music education track as a double major in college. As a result, I later decided to pursue a career in percussion education and performance. As a journalist, I loved explaining and documenting information. As a percussionist, I guess I do the same, but in a slightly different way.
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
BS: I wouldn’t consider it weird, but one of the most interesting projects I participated in was premiering a work by John Cage. It was a watershed experience for my understanding of new music and the numerous facets it represents. Having Cage at the dress rehearsal where I could ask him questions about his work was a memorable experience for me.
R!S: What's one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
BS: I think colleagues and students would agree that I have a passion for teaching and genuinely care about those I teach and what I do.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
BS: I have always struggled with naming a favorite instrument, because I enjoy making music with many percussion instruments. However, I do enjoy performing on timpani, because of its unique characteristics and challenges.
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
BS: I grew up 30 miles Northeast of Los Angeles in a small suburban town that was a great environment. I had the best of worlds in that I had the benefits of a small town and yet had access to metropolitan Los Angeles. I experienced difficult health problems in my youth, which gave me a sensitivity toward others and the ability to express my feelings. These traits have been useful as a musician and educator.