Joseph Pereira

Principal Timpanist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2008.

Timpanist Joseph Pereira

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 responsibility!

My career

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 Publications.

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 recordings.

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 University.



Video from Craft in America with principal timpanist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Joseph Pereira and mallet maker Jason Ginter.


My timpani

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


(33″-31″ 29″ 28″ 28″ 26″ 26″ 25″ 23½” 23½” 22″ 20½”)

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 like no other instrument I have ever tried, and I’ve tried many!

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 Hardtke frame.

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 sound more immediate and have that classic strong bass pitch fundamental that sings clearly. And the drums just keep getting better with age!

My mallets

JG Percussion Joseph Pereira Models

Kato, Kappert, Brenner

Timpani Heads

I always tuck and use Kalfo heads except for outdoor concerts where I use Evans
Orchestral heads.

And some links…

Joseph Pereira Signature Series of Mallets

Los Angeles Philharmonic