A.J. Merlino, DMA
A.J. Merlino’s intense and versatile performing style has made him a highly sought after percussionist for the past decade. His playing has taken him around the world including Scotland, Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Australia, and Argentina. A resident of Las Vegas, he has been seen performing on the Las Vegas strip with such artists as Jay-Z, Redfoo of LMFAO, Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Eric Marienthal, and Cee Lo Green for the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. He has also collaborated with famed percussionists Michito Sanchez, Pepe Jimenez, Christian Tamburr, Bernie Dresel, and Kurt Rasmussen.
Merlino has worked as music director, composer and performer for many projects held at The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, as well as the production show Resurrecting Sin City, which premiered in Las Vegas and traveled to Adelaide, Australia. As a clinician, he has presented to numerous colleges, high schools, festivals and has worked for the International House of Blues with Kurt Rasmussen.
One of the few cimbalom soloists in the country, Merlino has performed as a soloist on this instrument with various college and professional ensembles, such as Moravian Wind Symphony, Reading Symphony Orchestra, and Vox Ama Deus Ensemble. He can be heard on several recordings including Lost Vegas (principal percussionist, UNLV Wind Orchestra), Rebels in Paris (soloist/percussionist, Vox Ama Deus Ensemble), Just Play (percussionist, The Colt Kayser Band), and Ventana (principal percussionist, UNLV Wind Orchestra). Recently, Merlino premiered the off-brodway production of The Vagabonds.
A strong supporter of new music, Merlino uses his diverse skills on dozens of percussion instruments to commission new works from up and coming composers, such as a work for six-mallet marimba and choir by Los Angeles composer Justin Raines and new works for marimba by Casey Cangelosi and Pius Cheung. His work with new music also extends to numerous premieres utilizing various instrumentations by David T. Little, Virko Bailey, Jim Barnes, Scott Steele, Eric Whitacre, and Michael Daugherty.
Merlino holds percussion performance degrees from Kutztown University and the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree. His instructors include Frank Kumor, Willis Rapp, Kurt Rasmussen, Timothy Jones, and Dean Gronemeier.
A.J. Merlino is currently teaching for New York Youth Musicians, Reading Musical Foundation, Earth Rhythms, Skyliners Drum and Bugle Corps, Yocum Institute for Arts Education, and Kutztown University.