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Crane School of Music Professor Emeritus James Petercsak (Hon. ’03) Recognized with Two Music Industry Honors

March 12, 2024

Professor Emeritus James Petercsak of SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music Honored by Percussion Marketing Council and Yamaha Corporation of America 

From left, Yamaha Artist Services representative Jalissa Gascho, Crane School of Music Professor Emeritus James Petercsak (Hon. ’03), and Yamaha Vice President of Artist Services John Wittmann at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference in Indianapolis, where the new scholarship in Petercsak’s honor was announced.

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus James Petercsak (Hon. '03) was recently recognized for his many achievements in performance and pedagogy throughout his career. Now retired, the long-time Crane School of Music faculty member was honored with two awards by partners in the music industry. 

Petercsak was first recognized with the establishment of the Yamaha PASIC Scholarship from the Yamaha Corporation of America, presented during a special ceremony at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference held in Indianapolis in November 2023. Now named in Petercsak’s honor, this award will assist students to attend the annual percussion conference, including funding for their registration, travel, lodging, meals and a commemorative T-shirt.  

The mission of the Percussive Arts Society is to inspire, educate and support percussionists and drummers throughout the world. Petercsak previously served as president of the organization from 1977 to 1981, and remained involved throughout his career at Crane. A Yamaha Performing Artist, Petercsak built relationships between the company and Crane, helping to establish career pathways for students in music business, education and performance. 

In addition to the scholarship, Petercsak was honored with the Percussion Marketing Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Drum Education. The honor was presented in January, at the council’s open house during the 2024 NAMM Show, the world’s largest music industry event, held annually in Anaheim, Calif.  

“As a Crane School of Music alumnus and Crane Institute for Music Business and Entrepreneurship advocate, it was an honor to present the legendary Jim Petercsak with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Drum Education at our annual reception at the NAMM Show. Music education changes lives for the better, and percussion is among the innate fundamental gateways to a world of music that calls to and connects all of us," said PMC board member Antonio Ferranti ’98 of Tamburo Drums. "Jim's passion for drumming has inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams in music, and today, many of his former students are successful performers, educators and leaders in the music industry.” 

For more than five decades, Petercsak, who is affectionately referred to as “JP” by students and colleagues alike, led the percussion area and directed the award-winning Crane Percussion Ensemble, until his retirement last spring. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Crane Institute for Music Business and Entrepreneurship. Petercsak’s students have gone on to enjoy successful careers on multiple continents, becoming educators, in-demand performers, accomplished composers, arrangers, arts administrators, advocates for the arts and executives in the music business industry.  

Petercsak is the rare percussionist who is equally adept in both the classical and jazz repertoire. He has performed as orchestral timpanist and percussionist with top names such as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, the American Symphony with Leopold Stokowski, the New York City Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre. As a jazz drummer-percussionist, Petercsak has performed during four decades with many of the great entertainers of our time, a list that includes Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn, Liza Minelli, Dionne Warwick, Mitzi Gaynor, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Liberace, The Four Seasons, The Supremes and Rosemary Clooney, among many others.  

Not one to slow down even in retirement, Petercsak recently made a gift to establish the JP Studio Scholarship to be awarded to Crane percussion students. Since making his gift, several former students have made contributions to his scholarship. To learn more, visit 

About The Crane School of Music: 

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution and was one of the first Yamaha Institutions of Excellence. For more information, please visit 

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