John Kinzie was born in Pittsburgh and began his musical studies on the piano at the age of five. When band was introduced in the schools, he quickly switched to the drums. He received scholarships to the University of Toledo and the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Robert Bell, Richard Weiner and Paul Yancich. Prior to joining the Colorado Symphony as Principal Percussionist in 1985, he was Principal Percussionist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, a position he won at the age of 19.
John has appeared with Strings in the Mountains, The National Repertory Orchestra, and the Grand Teton music festivals, and has been a featured soloist with the Toledo Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Yale School of Music, Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Colorado Symphony on numerous occasions. He also performs with the Colorado Symphony chamber group “Once Upon a Time,” a group formed to inspire the imaginations of young schoolchildren and to excite them about music. In 1996, he became the head of the percussion division of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, where he teaches percussion and timpani performance as well as percussion ensemble, master classes, and percussion pedagogy and repertoire. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, skiing, and hanging out with his wife, Colorado Symphony violinist Karen Kinzie, and their four sons, Ryan, Karl, Grant, and Reid.