Jack Van Geem began playing the marimba at age four. He went on to study bassoon, trombone, saxophone, and piano, but in college, decided to major in percussion. He studied with Tony Cirone and Jerome Neff and earned his Master of Arts degree from California State University at Hayward. In 1974, Jack was awarded an Alfred Hertz Traveling Scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley, studying contemporary percussion performance with Cristoph Caskel in Germany. Upon returning to the United States, he became the percussionist for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra where he remained until winning the Principal Percussion position with the San Francisco Symphony in 1980. Jack is Chairman of Percussion Studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, teaches at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles and is the author/composer of three books: Four Mallet Democracy, Rags & Hot Choruses and Symphonic Repertoire for Keyboard Percussion.
Jack has performed under such notable conductors as: Aaron Copland, Freubech De Burgos, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Mazur, Edo De Waart, Herbert Blomsted, and Michael Tilson Thomas. Other composer/conductors he has performed with are: Lou Harrison, Steve Reich, John Adams, Charles Wourinin and George Pearl. As a solo marimbist, he performed the American Premiere of Marimba Spiritual by Maki Ishi and is a featured artist with the Zeltsman Marimba Festival. Jack Van Geem and Nancy Zeltsman have been performing as a Marimba Duo since 2000 and have released a CD entitled Pedro and Olga Learn to Dance. Their repertoire includes a new work by Michael Tilson Thomas entitled Island Music. This work was premiered on a New World Symphony concert (Live Webcast) in Carnegie Hall during a San Francisco Symphony concert and, at the 2004 Percussive Arts Society Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.