Mallet percussion instruments are a group of pitched percussion instruments. These instruments feature bars made of wood or metal arranged like a piano keyboard. The xylophone is one of the most prominent members of this group due to its bright, wooden sound. You can strike its wooden bars with mallets and play individual pitches or, you can put multiple mallets in each hand to play chords! Mallets can range in density from hard rubber to soft yarn, giving a wide range of timbres to the instrument.
Principal Percussion, Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra Chair
Associate Principal Timpani, Associate Principal Percussion, Opus Chair
Brian Mount, a Minnesota Orchestra member since 1997, was named principal percussion in 1999. He had previously served as principal percussion of the Honolulu Symphony, a post he held for four years. He has performed with many additional major orchestras, including the Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh and San Antonio symphony orchestras and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He also plays guitar and sings with The M.O.B. (Minnesota Orchestra Band) and Spoonbridge.
Mount graduated from Indiana University, studied further at the Tanglewood Music Festival and earned a master’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.
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, and 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.
Jason Arkis joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1992 as associate principal timpani and associate principal percussion, after a seven-year tenure as principal percussion of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. From October 2015 through December 2018 he served as acting principal timpani. Along with his percussion section colleagues, in May 2008 he was featured in performances of Carmen Suite, an orchestration by Shchedrin of themes from Bizet’s Carmen. He also performed the world premiere of Michael Daugherty's Lounge Lizards for Two Pianos and Percussion, a Minnesota Orchestra commission, in 1994 and Bartók's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in 1998.
In addition to playing in chamber ensembles at several Sommerfest concerts, Arkis has often been a member of Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra Kinder Konzert ensembles.