Virtuoso timpanist Jonathan Haas has raised the status of the timpani to that of a solo instrument throughout his unique career that has spanned more than 25 years. From classical concertos to jazz and rock & roll, from symphonic masterpieces to the most experimental compositions of living composers, Jonathan has championed, commissioned, unearthed and celebrated music for his instrument, becoming, as Ovation magazine hailed him, "The Paganini of the timpani."
His concerts on the world's most prestigious musical stages and his ground-breaking recordings have delighted critics and listeners on both sides of the ocean. The New York Times wrote, "Wherever one finds a percussion instrument waiting to be rubbed, shook, struck or strummed, [Haas] is probably nearby, ready to fulfill his duties with consummate expertise he is a masterful percussionist." He has been profiled and reviewed over the years in the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Sydney Morning Herald, Jerusalem Post, Newark Star Ledger, and many other newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television. He was featured on NPR's Fresh Air and on Classical Public Radio Network's Dial-A-Musician, which introduced him as "The only solo virtuoso timpanist around, the superstar of the timpani."
Jonathan has garnered widespread praise and attention for his performances of Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, a piece conceived by Jonathan and completed because of his quest to spotlight the timpani. The Concerto Fantasy features not only two timpanists, but also 14 timpani, all placed downstage in front of the orchestra. In 2000, Jonathan performed the world premiere of the piece with the American Symphony, and he has subsequently performed it at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops, at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony (James Conlon, conductor) and with orchestras throughout the United States and internationally. Glass' Orange Mountain Music label has released the Concerto Fantasy on its Concerto Project Vol. I CD featuring Jonathan and Evelyn Glennie as soloists.
Demonstrating a remarkable versatility as a musician, Jonathan has performed and recorded with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, played on the Grammy Award-winning recording Zappa's Universe, recorded with Aerosmith, Michael Bolton, Black Sabbath and explored heavy metal with his rock group Clozshave.
Jonathan's successful efforts to expand the timpani repertoire have led him to commission and premiere more than 25 works by composers in addition to Philip Glass such as Stephen Albert, Marius Constant, Irwin Bazelon, Eric Ewazen, Thomas Hamilton and Robert Hall Lewis, among others.
Jonathan's recordings include the trail-blazing 18th Century Concertos for Timpani and Orchestra and Johnny H. and the Prisoners of Swing, the latter with his jazz group.
Ever the innovator, Jonathan attracted plaudits when he built the world's largest timpani, which is nearly 6' wide, nearly 4' tall, and 70 inches in diameter, almost twice the size of the world's second-largest timpani (a 48-incher used by Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra).
The rarest of modern virtuosi, Jonathan embarked on his career as a solo timpanist by performing the only solo timpani recital ever presented at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1980. As an orchestral soloist, he made his debut with the New York Chamber Orchestra under Maxim Shostakovich and his European solo debut with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He made his French debut performing Andrez Panufnick's Concerto for Percussion, Timpani and Orchestra with the Orchestra de la Garde Republicaine. He was the soloist in the Druschetsky Concerto for Eight Timpani, Oboe and Orchestra with the Aspen Chamber Orchestra. He has championed new music by presenting adventuresome programming such as The Music of Frank Zappa, showcasing the music of Edgar Varese and Frank Zappa, under the auspices of Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series.
Jonathan is the principal timpanist of the Aspen Chamber Orchestra and principal percussionist of the American Symphony Orchestra, as well as a member of the American Composers Orchestra. He performs with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, New York Pops and New Jersey Symphony and has performed and recorded with virtually every other New York-area performing arts organization.
An inspiring teacher, he is director of Classical Percussion Performance at New York University's Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, Chair of the Juilliard Pre College Percussion Department, and a faculty artist of the Aspen Music School, where he conducts its percussion ensemble. Jonathan was director of the Peabody Conservatory Percussion Department for 26 years, and he has presented master classes throughout the United States and internationally.
As active an entrepreneur as he is an artist, Jonathan heads Sunset Records, Kettles and Company and Gemini Music Productions (www.geminimusic.com), which contracts musicians for Lincoln Center, New York Pops and many other organizations.
Jonathan Haas is a Yamaha Performing Artist.