Mell Csicsila has been a dynamic presence on the Cleveland musical scene for over 20 years. A native of Northeast Ohio, he can be heard frequently performing as as a first-call percussionist and drummer at Cleveland's Playhouse Square Theatre and with professional ensembles including the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The Cleveland Pops Orchestra, CityMusic Cleveland, Lyric Opera Cleveland, and professional symphony orchestras across a multi-state region. Mell has backed a number of touring artists including Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Weird Al Yankovic, the Moody Blues and Yes. A specialist in musical theater he has supported the national tours of over thirty touring Broadway musicals including Wicked, Newsies, Beautiful, Hairspray, The Producers, and Mary Poppins in Cleveland and in theatres across the United States and has been a musician for regional theater companies in Ohio, Utah, and Florida. Beyond traditional classical and popular music, he has appeared on drums and mallets in world fusion concerts with master artists like South Indian percussion virtuoso Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, Hungary’s Török Tilla Folk Experience, Eastern European Folk and Klezmer ensembles, and a number of regional jazz, big band, rock, blues, and religious groups.
Mr. Csicsila has made over one hundred performances as a percussion soloist and recitalist where he has performed serious concert literature and novelty and ragtime pieces. In 2005, he performed the US premiere of Bertold Hummel’s Aphorisms on BACH, Op. 105 with the Trinity Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to his performance credits, Mr. Csicsila is an active teacher and clinician. He has been on faculty at Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University Stark Campus, and Lorain County Community College. Mell was a Teaching Artist for the Cleveland Orchestra's arts-integrated Learning Through Music program for over fifteen years and also created and presented family concert events, and a number of the orchestra's Musical Rainbow programs at Severance Hall and across Northeast Ohio. He has presented clinic sessions for members of the Percussive Arts Society and the Ohio Music Education Association, develops and presents special educational projects and clinics for other arts organizations, and has coached or advised a number of Ohio high school drum lines.
Mell holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Cleveland State University and has done post-graduate study at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His principal teachers include Cleveland Orchestra members Donald Miller, Richard Weiner, Paul Yancich, Joe Adato and Jay Burnham and drumset artists Bob McKee and George Lawrence. Additionally, while at Cleveland State, he studied South Indian percussion with Dr. T. Temple Tuttle and R. Cleveland Balusubramanian, founders of the Cleveland Thyagaraga Festival.
Mell proudly endorses Grover Professional Percussion Products and particularly likes his hammered bronze triangles, EQlipse snare drum, field drum, and the SX snare wires which he retrofits on several of his snare drums.