Meet Peter Kogan
Dimitri Mitropoulos Chair
Peter Kogan was appointed principal timpani of the Minnesota Orchestra in 1986. He premiered David Schiff’s Speaking in Drums: Concerto for Five Timpani and String Orchestra with the Orchestra in 1995, and in May 2008 he was featured with percussion section colleagues in performances of Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite, an orchestration of themes from Bizet’s Carmen, with Osmo Vänskä conducting.
Kogan’s orchestral career began when George Szell appointed him to the Cleveland Orchestra’s percussion section. Three years later he became principal percussion and associate principal timpani of the Pittsburgh Symphony under William Steinberg and André Previn. In 1977 he left Pittsburgh to pursue a career in New York City as a freelance drum set player and composer, performing rock, blues and jazz. His work in New York received recognition in a profile that appeared in Modern Drummer magazine. In 1984 he won a position with the Honolulu Symphony, as both principal timpani and drum set player. While there, he performed Donald Erb’s Concerto for Percussionist and Orchestra with the Symphony. In recent summers Kogan has served as principal timpani of the Santa Fe Opera and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He also performed as guest timpani with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2008 to 2013.
Kogan’s interest in jazz continues: his band Le Jazz Cool All Stars, recently renamed the Minnesota Orchestra Jazz Quintet (MOJQ) features Kogan on drums along with two Minnesota Orchestra colleagues, trumpeter Charles Lazarus and bassist David Williamson. The ensemble has performed multiple times at Vincent—A Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, and it has been featured in the Minnesota cities of Willmar and Hibbing as part of the Orchestra’s Common Chords residency program.
In 2013 Kogan released Cornucopia, a CD of original compositions written in tribute to jazz greats Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Milt Jackson, Mary Lou Williams and Wayne Shorter. He is currently at work on his second album, to be released in 2015.
Kogan, who teaches in his home studio in St. Paul, taught percussion at the Oberlin Conservatory between 1971 and 1972 and has since returned to Oberlin to give master classes at the Oberlin Percussion Institute. In 2007 he was appointed to the affiliate faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Music. In November 2008 he conducted a timpani lab at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Austin, Texas. At the convention, MB Mallets of Halifax, Nova Scotia, introduced a line of timpani sticks designed by Kogan, which includes historical Baroque and Classical models. Kogan has published a number of articles in Percussive Notes, including an interview with timpani scholar Dr. Edmund Bowles in April 2005.
In 2009 Kogan collaborated with Minnesota-based sculptor and artist Brian Leo to design and build historical replicas of a pair of Classical timpani, which were introduced to the Orchestra during the 2009-10 season. The drums, based on scholarly research, are designed specifically for the Classical repertoire of Haydn through Schubert. Their success has led Kogan to build additional sets for sale under the name Klassischewienerpauken™. The instruments were demonstrated in a master class on historical performance practice at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis in 2010. More information about Kogan’s classical timpani as well as his restoration service can be seen on his website.
Kogan began his musical studies on the violin at age six. He began serious percussion study at age 11 with Saul Goodman, with whom he continued studying through high school and at Juilliard. He completed his studies at the Cleveland Instituted of Music, where he studied with Cloyd Duff and received a master’s degree in 1972. He also holds a Certificat de Timbales from the Conservatoire de Genève, where he studied with Charles Peschier. His other teachers have included George Gaber, Elden “Buster” Bailey and Fred Hinger.
For more information, including samples of Kogan's music, visit peterkoganmusic.com.