Appointments / Auditions & Appointments / Los Angeles Philharmonic / Music News & Info: Classical

LA Phil adds a timpanist/percussionist

The Los Angeles Philharmonic held open auditions earlier this week for a new “Assistant Principal Timpani / Section Percussion” player.

Yesterday, Joseph Pereira (Principal Timpani) and Matthew Howard (Principal Percussion) both announced on social media that David Riccobono, Principal Percussionist with the Long Beach Symphony, won the job.

Just six weeks ago, the Huntington Beach native also won the audition for a comparable position at the St. Louis Symphony, but now it looks like he’ll be staying in Southern California.   

What is extra noteworthy about this hire is that it’s additional headcount for the orchestra and not replacing any current player that is leaving or retiring. I can’t remember the last time the LA Phil added seats to its roster.  In fact, the orchestra had done the opposite over the past few decades by trimming positions in the string sections.

I was so surprising that I asked Mr. Pereira to confirm, and he replied, “you’re right, we added a new position, finally! In the works since I started in 2008.”

Until now, the LA Phil has been the only leading U.S. orchestra to NOT have someone in the role, choosing instead to have only one permanent timpanist and using guests, substitute musicians, or Resident Fellow Wesley Sumpter to fill in when Mr. Pereira needed a break for part of a concert or wasn’t available at all. 

The newest member of the orchestra’s percussion section is very familiar with current and former members. He has been studying for many years with Mr. Pereira and section member James Babor at the USC Thornton School of Music where he is currently working on his Graduate Certificate after graduating from there in 2019 with his Master of Music degree. He won the 2022 University of Southern California Concerto Competition (Winds, Brass and Percussion division).

He did his undergraduate work at UCLA, studying with Raynor Carroll, retired LA Phil Principal Percussionist, and Teresa Dimond, current Los Angeles Opera Principal Percussionist and prominent freelance player. (Side note: Mr. Howard, the LA Phil’s current Principal Percussion, also studied with Messrs. Pereira and Babor at USC Thornton, and took private lessons with Mr. Carroll.)

Mr. Riccobono was a 2022 Fellow at the Music Academy of the West. He previously was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2019 and Round Top Festival Institute in 2018. He has performed as a percussionist and timpanist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Los Angeles Opera, and Pasadena Symphony. He also played in the American Youth Symphony, Debut Orchestra, and Dream Orchestra as a section percussionist, as well as various chamber ensembles including Eighth Blackbird and the Culver City Chamber Orchestra.  Additionally, he was a member of Kyodo Taiko for four years with whom studied the art of traditional Japanese drumming.

Congratulations to Mr. Riccobono, the percussionists of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the whole orchestra for this great news. Looking forward to seeing him on stage at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

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