Kevin Watkins joined the Minnesota Orchestra’s percussion section in 1999. In October 2015 he was appointed to the dual posts of acting associate principal timpani and acting associate principal percussion. He has been featured with section colleagues in performances of Carmen Suite, an orchestration by Shchedrin of themes from Bizet’s Carmen and of Russell Peck’s The Glory and the Grandeur. He has performed chamber music at several Orchestra concerts, with recent performances that include John Harbison's Fourteen Fabled Folk Songs for Violin and Marimba and Devonté Hynes' Perfectly Voiceless. In January 2009 he and Sam Bergman performed Michael Colgrass’ Variations for Four Drums and Viola on the Orchestra’s Chamber Music at MacPhail series.
Watkins has also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the major symphony orchestras of Detroit, Kansas City and Atlanta, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In summer 2014 he performed as principal percussionist with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, England. Recently he has played at music festivals including Steamboat Springs and Sun Valley. He can be heard on recordings by BIS, Reference Recordings and Opus One.
A Kansas City native, Watkins earned a bachelor’s degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studying with Michael Rosen, and a master’s degree from Cleveland State University, where he worked with Tom Freer. He was a member of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic before joining the Minnesota Orchestra.
In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, running and fishing, as well as preparing Kansas City-style barbecue.