Chris DeChiara, M.M. Headshot

Academic Area

  • Instrumental Music and Conducting
  • School

  • Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art
  • Percussionist Chris DeChiara, a native of Burlington, Massachusetts, came of age
    at an apex in rock music history, drawing inspiration from the kit-shattering
    performances of pioneers Neil Peart, John Bonham, and Bill Ward, among other
    greats. DeChiara honed his craft at an early age, recording and playing the club
    circuit around Boston and New England before channeling his lifelong love of music
    into academic and professional pursuits.

    DeChiara studied percussion performance at the undergraduate and graduate
    levels under the tutelage of Will Hudgins (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Jeff
    Fischer (UMASS Lowell, Boston Ballet), and Fred Buda (ret. Boston Pops); he
    earned a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance (cum laude) from the
    University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1996 and a Master of Music in performance
    with academic honors and distinction from New England Conservatory in 1999. As
    a student he widened his repertoire to incorporate theater, chamber, solo, studio,
    rock, jazz, drum corps, and classical performance. At Lowell he was a member and
    section leader of the drumline and a guest conductor/director with the university’s
    percussion ensemble; he also marched with the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle
    Corps in 1994.

    From 1996 to 1999, DeChiara performed nationally and internationally, participating
    in the Rome Festival Orchestra in Italy, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, the
    Spoleto Music Festival in South Carolina, and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in
    Germany. In 1999, he was the principal percussionist of the United World
    Philharmonic in Bonn, Germany. He has performed under the batons of acclaimed
    directors Sergiu Comissiona, Lawrence Foster, Keith Lockhart, Mstislav
    Rostropovich, Benjamin Zander, Julius Rudel, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Christoph
    Eschenbach, and James Conlon.

    Chris joined the U.S. Navy Band in 2001 and retired in 2022. He toured with the
    Concert Band as percussionist/timpanist and xylophone soloist. As a member of the
    Navy Band Ceremonial Unit—performing music at official military, government, full
    honor funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, and other special events—DeChiara
    has had the honor of accompanying the ensemble at three presidential
    inaugurations and the funeral of former president Ronald Reagan; he was also
    featured as a drumset soloist at the 2012 Virginia International Tattoo.
    Over the course of his career, DeChiara has appeared with and continues to play
    with a number of ensembles, including the Annapolis Symphony, Boston Ballet,
    Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Concert Artists of Baltimore,
    Washington Ballet and Opera Orchestra, Lake George Opera, National
    Philharmonic, Harrisburg Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Maryland Symphony,
    and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He is currently a percussionist with the
    Alexandria Symphony, principal timpanist of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and
    was principal percussionist of the Wammie-award-winning, Great Noise Ensemble,
    from 2005-2015.

    DeChiara has had the distinction of playing some of the most well-known venues in
    the world, among them Symphony Hall and Fenway Park in Boston; Carnegie Hall
    in New York City; the Kennedy Center and Verizon Center in Washington, DC; and
    the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands. As a regular performer in
    the DC theater circuit, DeChiara has shared the stage with renowned
    artists—among them Broadway Tony award winner Jason Robert Brown, original
    RENT actor Adam Pascal, and NBC star Wesley Taylor.

    Recordings featuring DeChiara include the 1999 American premiere of Kurt Weill’s
    opera, Die Burgschaft, on EMI Records; the premiere recording of Shirish Korde’s
    song cycle Drowned Woman of the Sky; performances with folk legend Arlo
    Guthrie; the debut release of Great Noise Ensemble’s Guerilla New Music; and
    albums by local singers and bands such as Chris Sizemore, Carolyn Cole, Anthony
    Nuccio, Iris Divine, and Shumaun. His chamber music work has been featured at
    the Bang on a Can Festival and numerous live broadcasts on WGBH radio (Boston)
    with New England Conservatory faculty and members of the Boston Symphony.
    Returning to his rock and roll roots at night, DeChiara mans the kit in several
    Washington, DC-area bands, among them Dr. FU, Iron Maiden tribute band Eyes of
    the Nile, and the notorious and uproarious hair-metal band from Hamburg,
    Germany—aptly named Herr Metal. Dr. FU is a veritable local legend, winning the
    WUSA*9 “A List” competition for “Best DC-Area Band” and featured in the
    Washington Post, Post Express, Washingtonian, On Tap magazine, Washington
    City Paper, Voice of the Hill, Washington Times, Buffalo News, and Loudoun

    DeChiara also has vocal chops, singing lead vocals with the acoustic Beatles
    group, Nowhere Men, and belting harmonies with Dr. FU. DeChiara’s rock
    performances span venues across the DC metropolitan area, including the
    legendary 9:30 Club, State Theater, Tally Ho Theater, Washington Nationals Park,
    RFK Stadium, FedEx Field, and outdoor festivals such as ShamrockFest, Friday
    Night Live, and Celebrate Fairfax. DeChiara has shared the stage with Third Eye
    Blind, Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick, 311, Dee Snider’s Widowmaker, Vicious Rumors,
    Larry Gatlin, Kongos, White Trash, Arlo Guthrie, Arturo Sandoval, Maynard
    Ferguson, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, ZZ Top, Lenny Kravitz, John Fogerty, and Steve

    As a lifelong student of music himself, DeChiara conveys his passion for the arts by
    mentoring the next generation of musicians, teaching masterclasses, clinics, private
    lessons, percussion ensembles, drumlines, front ensembles, and coaching
    orchestra and concert band percussion sections in schools in both Boston and the
    Washington metropolitan region. He is the new Adjunct Professor of Percussion at
    the Catholic University of America in Washington DC where he teaches lessons and
    coaches the wind ensemble and orchestra.

    DeChiara maintains a home studio in Burke, Virginia, where he teaches private
    lessons, records drum and percussion tracks for artists, produces drum and
    percussion videos, and tries mightily to abide by the parameters of county noise