Timpani and Percussion

Introducing the timpani and percussion players of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Timpani
Percussion

 

Timpani

Nigel Thomas

Nigel Thomas: Principal
Member since 1988(–90) & 2002, Professor at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

‘I loved pop, rock and jazz music from an early age, playing my mum’s pots and pans (with her knitting needles) from age four. Andre Previn’s Music Night (on BBC) was my introduction to the LSO and during one of the programmes I said to my mum and dad: ‘that’s what I’m going to do one day’!’

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Nigel Thomas’ musical experience began early, playing xylophone solos in Harry Mortimer’s Men ’O’ Brass and the City of Coventry Band from the age of eleven. The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra followed from age 14 to 18, when Nigel became the first Timpani & Percussion Scholar at the Royal College Of Music. Appointed timpanist with the ECYO Nigel then went on to win the gold medal in the 1980 Shell/LSO Music Scholarship. Within a year he was appointed Sub-Principal Percussion with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1988 the LSO invited Nigel to become Principal Percussion, although a 1990 US tour with longstanding collaborators The Blue Nile meant his tenure was cut short. Ten years living, writing and recording in the Welsh mountains (with his band Quiet City) was followed by a return to the LSO as Principal in 2002.

 

Percussion

Neil Percy

Neil Percy, Principal
Member since 1990, Professor at the Royal Academy of Music

‘I studied at Chetham’s from age eleven and not long after encountered the LSO for the first time with a BBC André Previn’s Music Night broadcast. I was totally hooked and said there and then: ‘that’s what I want to do and that’s the orchestra I want to do it with’! I’ve been incredibly lucky since then to live my musical dreams.’

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Neil Percy is the longest serving Principal Percussion of the LSO and has been Head of Timpani and Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music since 2000. He has worked closely with many major artists and conductors and as a soloist with Sir Colin Davis, Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, François-Xavier Roth, Karl Jenkins, Ravi Shankar, Kent Nagano and Elgar Howarth. He has also worked closely with many composers for over 150 film scores – notably John Williams, James Horner, Patrick Doyle, Trevor Jones and Alexandre Desplat with their music for films such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Braveheart, Notting Hill, Twilight: New Moon and Unbroken – and with major pop and jazz artists. He is the Zildjian cymbals artist in residence, a Yamaha drums and keyboards artist and an artist for Evans Drumheads and Freer Mallets.

   
David Jackson

David Jackson
Member since 1996, LSO Board Member and Orchestra Committee Member

‘I was a huge Star Wars fan in the late '70s and on acquiring the Original Soundtrack album and reading on the front ‘Music composed and conducted by John Williams, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra’ I decided that THAT was the orchestra I wanted to play in.’

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From 1989 to 1992 David Jackson studied percussion and timpani at the Royal College of Music under Kevin Hathway and Janos Keszei. During this time, he performed as both soloist and orchestral musician and was awarded the British Reserve Percussion Prize three years in a row. David has also studied with Gernot Schultz (Principal Percussion, Berlin Philharmonic) and participated in masterclasses with Evelyn Glennie and James Wood.

David was awarded a Countess of Munster Scholarship (1991) and a Martin Musical Scholarship (1991 & 1992) enabling him to study marimba with Robert Van Sice. In 1992 he was a finalist in the Shell LSO Scholarship for Percussion. David has performed with all the major London orchestras and made his professional debut with the LSO in 1993, becoming a full member of the Orchestra in 1996.

 
Sam Walton

Sam Walton: Co-Principal
Member since 2012, Professor at the Royal Academy of Music

'I played as an extra with the Orchestra before auditioning for the job. After a trial procedure I was pleased to be offered the job in May 2012.'

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Sam joined the LSO as Co-Principal Percussion in 2012. He has performed with many UK orchestras including the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, the London Sinfonietta and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. As a chamber musician, Sam is a member of the Colin Currie Group, the Colin Currie Quartet and the LSO Percussion Ensemble. He is also Principal Percussion for the John Wilson Orchestra. He has performed on various movie soundtracks including Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and plays in a variety of West End shows. He is percussion tutor for the European Union Youth Orchestra.