This weekend, I will have the honor and privilege to perform alongside my colleagues in music at the 13th Annual Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Concert with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs. I have been coming to this hall to see the "Phabulous Philadelphians" play for years now, and now I will be rehearsing and performing on the same stage! It will truly be a great experience.

The program includes the Haydn "Lord Nelson" Mass and Mahler's Symphony No. 1. Out of the graduate students at Temple, we have alternated playing on the 'small orchestra' piece, and this concert was my turn to play. I'll be playing Timpani on the Haydn Mass and a combination of Triangle, Cymbals, and Timpani on the Mahler Symphony. It will be a 95 minute test of my versatility as an orchestral percussionist! 

Choosing sounds for the Haydn and the Mahler on timpani proved to be an immense task. For the Haydn, we are using a very small orchestra. I am using the smallest sticks I own to get a light sound, and using two chamois muffles placed in the center of the drum to get a shorter sound more characteristic of a Baroque or early classical timpanist. Shannon Wood, principal timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony, gave a clinic at Temple two weeks ago and offered the chamois mute idea as a great way to imitate the sound of a pair of Baroque timpani on modern drums. The sound is shorter, but not so short that it sounds muffled or muted. Light bamboo mallets with hard black felt are my go-to for this piece. 

For the Mahler, I am only playing timpani on the fourth movement. We worked out the part assignments so some undergrads could be involved in the orchestra parts. Mr. Abel is letting the second timpani player and myself use some GIGANTIC Fred Hinger mallets. These things are 18" long with aluminum shafts. I've never played with such big sticks before! Getting the big loud notes in the Mahler takes no effort at all. However, I have to work very hard to get a controlled sound on some of the big rolls. 

Be sure to catch Temple University Symphony Orchestra's Lord Nelson Mass and Mahler Symphony No. 1! Sunday, March 23rd at 4pm! Check the "appearances" page for more info! 

Andrew SzypulaComment