PercussionGregory Cohen


Gregory Cohen joined the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as Principal Percussionist in October 2008 after serving as acting principal for the previous season. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Cohen received his Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from Boston University and his Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory, also in percussion performance. Prior to his work with the SDSO, Mr. Cohen was privileged to work and train at several music festivals, including the Tanglewood Music Center, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the National Orchestral Institute. 

Mr. Cohen has performed with such notable orchestras as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the LA Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Kansas City Symphony. Throughout his career he has played for many conductors including Jahja Ling, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Robert Spano, Seiji Ozawa and David Robertson. He has travelled across the Atlantic to perform in renowned halls such as the Konzerthaus in Berlin and the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Mr. Cohen has performed all of over the United States, including Carnegie Hall. 

As a graduate student of the New England Conservatory, Mr. Cohen gave a solo recital in Boston’s Jordan Hall. He has recorded on Telarc, Reference Recordings, Albany Records and Mode Records labels, and he is a Zildjian orchestral artist. 

In addition to his work at the SDSO, Mr. Cohen became a studio faculty member at San Diego State University in the fall of 2009. He also maintains an active private percussion studio in San Diego. His students have won numerous competitions and have achieved many accolades. 

In his spare time, Gregory Cohen enjoys cooking new recipes with his wife, Courtney, and sailing the fine waters of San Diego Bay. 


Q: How did you choose your instrument?

A: When I was young I used to beat on anything I saw, so the doctor told my parents to give me a pair of drumsticks. The rest is history. 

Q: What is your favorite travel destination? 

A: Colorado

Q: What is your choice for dining in San Diego? 

A: I like Pokéz at 10th and E Street in downtown San Diego. They have the best mahi burrito in the city. 

Q: Where might you be found on a Saturday night if you’re not performing with the Orchestra? 

A: On the rare Saturday night that I’m not working, you’ll find me cooking a new recipe with my wife Courtney and streaming a movie over Netflix®.

Q: The non-musical accomplishment you are most proud of is…?

A: My non-musical accomplishment that I am most proud of is marrying my wife Courtney, who is currently the Principal Librarian of the Orchestra. 

Q: What is your favorite San Diego Symphony Orchestra memory? 

A: I had quite a good time playing the “giant hammer” part in Mahler’s 6th Symphony. The wooden box that I struck measured 4 feet x 4 feet x 6 feet tall. I live for parts like this.