Principal Timpani & Personnel Manager
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Instrument(s): Timpani and percussion
Age you began playing: 12
Year you joined the TSO: 1981
Who continues to influence your playing? Frank Sinatra and Ginger Baker
Why are orchestras important? To keep an intense art form alive.
What wisdom would you impart to students and aspiring musicians? Widen your scope and become broadly experienced.
What is your favourite music to play? Beethoven
Who are your favourite musicians in any genre? Chet Baker, Keith Jarrett
What is your most memorable concert experience as an audience member? The Leningrad Philharmonic performing Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5.
If you were not a full-time musician, what would you be? Writer or athlete
What do you enjoy doing most when you’re not on stage? Playing tennis
David Kent has held the position of Principal Timpani of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 1981 and Orchestra Personnel Manager since 1987. He was born and raised in central Toronto, and he began playing drums after a strong dose of Frank Sinatra in his childhood. Upon his discovery of the timpani, he felt drawn to explore the world of percussion, not only of western culture, but of the many non-western cultures in which percussion is a central force. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in performance and ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto. During his studies with such teachers as timpanist Fred Hinger and South Indian mridangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran, Mr. Kent traveled the globe and collected a vast number of instruments from various cultures. He went on to commission and record many new works for solo percussion from composers such as Claude Vivier, Henry Kucharzyk, and John Hawkins. In addition, he has appeared as soloist with the National Youth Orchestra, the World Philharmonic Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Nexus Percussion Ensemble, and he has directed several chamber music series in Toronto, such as Array Music. He has also been contracted for many interesting musical projects such as The Three Tenors concerts, conducted by James Levine. Recently, he completed an arrangement of Claude Vivier’s Cinq Chansons for percussion duet-trio, and a book entitled Timpani Playing in the 21st Century.
In his spare time, David Kent is an OTA-ranked tennis player, an ardent bicyclist and scuba diver, and an avid reader of history and cosmology.
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