Jeffery Prentice

Principal Timpanist, Orchestra of the Principality of Asturias, Spain, since 1991

Timpanist Jeffery Prentice

My thoughts about being a timpanist

When I entered the conservatory at 17, I was exposed to the greatest orchestral percussionists in the US. Everett Firth and his work with the Boston Symphony made an incredible impact on me. In Firth, I saw a musician that could literally “uplift” and change the musical direction of a hundred piece orchestra. I love physical activity, as well as inspirational moments. Timpani gave me that outlet. The feeling one has while playing timpani in the orchestra can range from pure physical strength, to intimate music making, or to the Grandeur of a Finale of a great Romantic Symphony. Even as I get older I would never want to be in any other chair in the orchestra except the Timpanist’s chair!


Jeff earned a B.M. and a M.M. from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. There he studied with the legendary timpanist Vic Firth, and Frank Epstein, Percussionist and Contemporary Music Specialist with the Boston Symphony. While a student he performed with the Boston Symphony, Pops, and the Boston Ballet.

He was accepted as a fellowship recipient to the Tanglewood Music Center by the Boston Symphony to further his studies during the summer months.

At the age of 23 he was appointed Assistant Principal Timpanist and Percussionist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Later he went on to perform with the United States Army Band, Washington D.C. and The Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra.

In 1997 Jeffery received his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland.

From 1991 to the present Jeffery is Principal Timpanist and Head of the Percussion Section of the Orchestra of the Principality of Asturias, Spain, and performs regularly with other orchestras throughout Spain. In the summer months he performs with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in Chautauqua, New York.

He is also an endorser for the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company and Promusin Percussion.

My Timpani

Hardtke Berlin Classic with Dresden bowls. Ten timpani in the sizes:

  • 78-78-72-72-66-64-60-60-58-52 cm
  • 31” 28” 26” 25” 23½” 23” 20½”

Basically I have two sets that can be interchanged as needed. The 52 cm (20″) timpani has a single hand tuner, perfect for fast tuning of the drum when it is placed in front of the timpani console (I:E: Rite of Spring).

The slightly smaller sizes help me with the higher notes of the repertoire since I often am playing in damp and wet playing conditions in Northern Spain.

Why I play the Hardtke Timpani

Hardtke Timpani are the only instruments available today that produce the traditional Germanic sound of the great Berliner orchestras. Wolfgang Hardtke meticulous craftsmanship is beyond compare – These timpani not only are the finest sounding but they are also truly a work of art, right down to the traditional ornamental gold painting.

My Mallets

Kato-Rainer Seegers models 10 mm bamboo, Kappert (felt cores), Lefima old cork models and Mozart replica mallets.

Timpani Heads

I use Irish Super Kalfo timpani heads from Ireland. I tuck them myself, all taunt with no slack and in specific graduated thicknesses.