Timpani are typically seen in groups of three or four in an orchestra. Also called kettledrums, these instruments look like large, copper bowls with drumheads stretched across the top. You can tune timpani to specific pitches by tightening the drumheads with keys or by using the foot pedals. Musicians who play the timpani must have a very good ear and be able to tune their drums to different pitches quickly.
Principal Timpani, Dimitri Mitropoulos Chair
Associate Principal Timpani, Associate Principal Percussion, Opus Chair
Erich Rieppel was named principal timpani of the Minnesota Orchestra in the fall of 2018. Prior to that, he held the same title at New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas in Miami Beach, Florida. Rieppel has performed as principal timpanist with the Seoul Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Detroit Symphony and New Jersey Symphony. He has held the posts of associate timpanist of the Chicago Civic Orchestra, substitute timpanist with the Louisville Orchestra and Charleston Symphony, and principal timpanist of the Terre Haute Symphony and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. Since 2013, he has played timpani and percussion with the Lakes Area Music Festival in northern Minnesota.
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.