Principal Timpanist of the Los Angeles
Philharmonic since 2008
My thoughts about being a timpanist
The position of principal timpanist in an
orchestra requires you to take on a huge
responsibility. For me, it's exciting to think about
how unlike the percussion instruments, the timpani
were really developed in the orchestral tradition.
Therefore I'm required to know the score as if I
am the conductor, always working towards achieving
the character of the music I'm playing. Only then,
can I play in a way that makes it possible for the
other musicians in the orchestra to do their job. I
have to know when to lead and when to accompany.
I like the fact that my presence as a solo voice
can really influence the sound of the orchestra.
There are so many colors available to me and the
creativity of applying them all is the best part.
I feel very lucky everyday to have this
Joseph was appointed principal timpanist of the
Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2007 by Esa-Pekka
Salonen. He has already appeared as a soloist with
the orchestra in
William kraft's Timpani Concerto No. 1, which was
released by Deutsche Grammophon on iTunes. He also
regularly appears as a percussionist in the
orchestra's Green Umbrella series.
Previously he was the assistant principal
timpanist/section percussionist of the New York
Philharmonic from January 1998 to September 2008. In
2010 he also began the post of head the percussion
department at the USC Thornton School of Music. He
is also on faculty at The Juilliard School.
Pereira is also very active as a composer. Chief
music critic Anthony Tommasini featured
Pereira's work as a composer and percussionist in
The New York Times. In the summer of 2010 he
conducted his new piece for seven percussionists at
The Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. In
2007, his first orchestral piece, Mask, was selected
by the American Composers Orchestra annual new music
readings for top emerging composers.
He conducted the premiere of his Quintet for
Winds in 2005 as part of the New York Philharmonic
Ensembles series at Merkin Concert Hall. The New
York Times said, "it is a restless yet lucidly
textured work with an astringent harmonic language.
Pereira's Conversation for Solo Flute, was
selected by Linda Witherell
(original solo flutist of IRCAM) in an international
"Call for Scores" through the
American Music Center. All of his percussion music
is published by Bachovich Music
Pereira has also performed with the New York
Percussion Quartet, the New York New
Music Ensemble, Alea III, the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, the Robert Shaw Festival
Singers, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as
principal timpanist. He can also
be heard on Telarc, Teldec, and Deutsche Grammophon
Pereira received his master's degree in
percussion from The Juilliard School and a
double bachelor's degree in performance and
composition/theory from Boston
Hardtke Berlin Classic with Dresden bowls. Twelve
timpani in the sizes:
(33"-31" 29" 28" 28" 26" 26" 25" 23½" 23½" 22"
I mostly use my main set, 81-74-66-60 and have
the extra set with some different sizes which I can
use to switch out when needed. Because of the
contemporary music we often play the 52cm is
needed-I can get a high E!
Why I play the Hardtke Timpani
All the greatest soloists get the biggest sound
with the least amount of effort.
The Hardtke timpani make it easy for me to do the
same. They are very efficient instruments except for
the sound which is very rich, warm and encompassing.
For me the true test has been the constant
compliments I receive from other musicians. The
sound and feel when playing them in the orchestra is
no other instrument I have ever tried, and I've
My first encounter with the Hardtke drums was
when I went to Copenhagen to possibly buy an
original set of Dresden drums that Hardtke was going
to restore for me.
At this time I was also shown a set of Hardtke's
original drums and I was sold! This is when we came
up with the idea of putting a Dresden bowl in the
We compared both bowls and found that there is
not much difference in the bowl thicknesses when
listening out in the hall. For me the Dresden bowls
immediate and have that classic strong bass pitch
fundamental that sings clearly. And the drums just
keep getting better with age!
JG Percussion Joseph Pereira Models
Kato, Kappert, Brenner
I always tuck and use Kalfo heads except for
outdoor concerts where I use Evans