John Soroka recently retired after 30 seasons as Principal Percussionist and Associate Principal Timpanist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Prior to this position, he held the same title as a member of the Baltimore Symphony for 6 years. He has enjoyed solo opportunities with both orchestras and can heard on a number of recordings with each, in addition to the All-Star Percussion Ensemble CD.
A native of Philadelphia, he began studying at the Settlement Music School with Michael Bookspan at age 7, continued his studies with Alan Abel (ages 8-17) and studied with Charles Owen at Temple University, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. While at Temple, he also studied timpani with Jack Moore. Graduate work followed at the Philadelphia Musical Academy. Four summers at the Berkshire Music Center-Tanglewood contributed to his development as an orchestral musician.
While a student at Temple, John was very active as a free-lance percussionist and timpanist. He performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra as a substitute/ extra player which included some touring. Other Philadelphia activities included: being a founding member of the Batterie Percussion Group, performing with the Pennsylvania Ballet and Philadelphia Grand Opera, 8 years as timpanist of the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia and numerous performances with regional orchestras such as the Trenton Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, Cherry Hill Symphony and Main Line Symphony. Summer activities include a number of years performing at the Grand Teton Music Festival or teaching at the festival's orchestral seminars.
Following in the tradition of his mentors, teaching others has been a rewarding part of his endeavors. He began instructing young people at the Settlement Music School. Later appointments followed as the Head of the percussion departments at the University of Delaware (72-77), the Peabody Conservatory (73-78), and Carnegie-Mellon University (79-92). Among his students with positions in American orchestras are: Don Liuzzi (Philadelphia Orchestra), William Hudgins (Boston Symphony), Brian Del Signore (Houston Symphony), Christopher Williams (Baltimore Symphony), John Locke (Baltimore Symphony), Edward Stephan (Fort Worth, Dallas, and Pittsburgh Symphony), Brian Mount (Minnesota Symphony), Keith Williams (Fort Worth Symphony), David Reinecke (San Antonio Symphony), and others. Former students with major teaching positions include some of those mentioned above and George Willis (West Virginia University) and Fernando Meza (University of Minnesota). Some have launched successful free-lance careers like Rolando Morales, percussionist/conductor of "Lion King" since the start of its Broadway run. John has presented clinics at a number of Percussive Arts Society conventions and events in addition to those at colleges and universities.
- M.M., Philadelphia Musical Academy
- B.M., Temple University
- Former Member, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra