Cancer survivor loves hitting stuff

Josh sums up his passion simply.

“I love hitting stuff,” the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal percussionist says.

But the 27-year-old’s path to joining the orchestra and then playing his first concerto wasn’t so simple. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer, and it’s been a short three months since the tumour was removed. He’s now cancer free.

Josh began playing the drums at the age of two; his grandfather bought him a Mickey Mouse drum when he was three because he was hitting everything in sight.


“I still remember how those sticks felt when I picked them up,” he says. “It was probably the most important part, because I actually got the chance to play a set of drums, even if it was a toy.”

Josh loved Disney soundtracks. He would listen to them in the family car, memorizing them and singing along to the different parts.

“I really enjoyed movie soundtracks because they can convey a lot of emotions,” Josh says. “I never realized they could be considered classical music, I just thought they were cool.”

He went from banging on his Mickey Mouse drum to playing in church at the age of five. Then, when he was in the fourth grade, he joined the Percussion Scholarship Group, a full scholarship percussion ensemble run by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“They taught me all classical music things: how to play classical percussion instruments, performing a lot, solos, lessons every week,” Jones says. “They gave me an instrument to practice on. They were basically my second mom and dad for the next 10, 13 years, or something like that.”