Andrew Penrose

Principal Timpanist of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra since 2020.

Andrew Penrose - Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Picture credit: ASO, photographer: Claudio Raschella

My thoughts about being a timpanist

I don’t know of a better job than playing in an orchestra, and there’s no better job in an orchestra than being the timpanist. We get to play music from the 17th to the 21st century, we are intimately connected to every section of the band, and composers often save the most exciting moments and climaxes just for us.

But most of all, I’m convinced the timpani is the driving musical force. It can make or break a composition, interpretation, or performance. The harmonic power and dramatic capabilities are what make this instrument truly special. And the sense of leading an entire orchestra is a thrill for which I haven’t found an equivalent.

My career so far

I am very much a product of South Australia. I studied at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, and began playing as a casual percussionist in the Adelaide Symphony while finishing my undergraduate degree. I continued as a casual percussionist and timpanist for 8 years before the timpani position became available in 2019. I performed that job on a contract until the audition in January 2020.

Since winning the position, I have been in the extremely fortunate position to be playing for an orchestra that performs the standard concert works but also performs for the State Opera of South Australia and The Australian Ballet, as well as smaller popular concerts and films in concert. It is a very varied position, which I absolutely love.

My Timpani

I play on the Berlin Classic model, and use the 81-78-72-65-62-58 and 52 sizes.

Why I play Hardtke Timpani

The sound of these drums is incomparable, and they are incredibly versatile. They can be used for all composers and all periods, and produce the clearest, warmest sound I have heard from a drum.

My Mallets

I make my own mallets. I started by learning how to re-wrap mallets myself, but it progressed to finding just the right sound for my drums in Adelaide’s acoustics. If you’re curious, check out my website.

Timpani Heads

Only the best. Super Kalfo timpani heads. I use a thicker head than standard because Adelaide is a dry, dry place.


Meet the orchestra – Adelaide Symphony Orchestra