New kettle drums changing Utah Symphony’s sound

Posted on: September 16, 2011

In Friday’s (9/16) Salt Lake Tribune, Celia R. Baker writes, “Utah Symphony timpanist George Brown is an expert on things that go ‘boom’ in the night. He speaks of his instrument’s characteristic sound by parsing that onomatopoeic word: ‘Buh-’ for the initial impact of mallet on drumhead; ‘-oooom’ for the long resonance that follows. Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer requests a specific sound from Brown for Beethoven’s music, and Brown describes it as ‘more ‘buh,’ less ‘oooom.’ Making changes to your playing style in middle age can be daunting, but Fischer made the prospect exciting by sharing a dream—the acquisition of a new set of timpani designed to give crystalline authenticity to music of the Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn, but with the heft of sound to fill a modern concert hall.” Brown helped research and select a set of drums by the company Lefima, “which were paid for by Utah Symphony donors, were shipped to Utah in time for the orchestra’s season opener, which featured Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. … It was Fischer’s intention that changes in the orchestra’s timpani sound would be mirrored by the rest of the Utah Symphony’s players. He’s already hearing a difference in the sound of the orchestra’s violins, which are playing with less bow and more articulation—their own version of the timpani’s punchier sound.”

Posted September 16, 2011