The word 'pause' does not seem to exist in Tim Genis' vocabulary. The renowned percussionist juggles his time between serving as the Principal Timpanist for the distinguished Boston Symphony Orchestra, Head of Percussion at the Boston University School of Music, lead fundraiser for BU's new music and percussion hall, author, and perhaps his most demanding roles as a husband and father to his two daughters. Yet, the venerable Yamaha artist is straightforward in describing how he approaches each major project and position. "Small doses," he smiles. "I set up an hour and focus on whatever task I have at hand and I try not to think about anything else." This sharply honed focus has helped Genis earn his extraordinary reputation as a respected musician, artist and educator.
While still a student at the Eastman School of Music, Genis was already showcasing his immense talent by quickly winning a section position with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He was then was invited to fill the principal timpani position with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. At the end of his second season, he transferred to Juilliard and freelanced with the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, and served as a soloist with the Philharmonia Virtuosi. In 1991, he won a position with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra as assistant timpanist/percussionist. Two years later, he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as assistant timpanist/percussionist and timpanist of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
As the current head of the percussion department at Boston University, Genis also runs the Tanglewood Institute percussion program. One of his many roles in recent years has been to help design the new Boston University percussion facility, which is gated for a grand opening in February '09. "Boston University is taking a great interest in percussion and constructing one of the best centers for percussion education in the country," says Genis. "We'll have a brand new space, which will be ideal for teaching, recordings, auditioning and will be a great environment for symposiums, clinics and discussions of all formats." A vocal supporter of this project for the past 15 years, Genis is hoping to raise enough capital to purchase an onslaught of new instruments. In his role for the BU project, Genis became a valued advisor for the designers and architects, "I helped with the spaces, materials, ceilings and consulted with the recording engineer," he says. "This brand new space will be set up as the best possible hub for percussionists." As an active fundraiser, Genis has called on donors to help the school obtain new instruments and successfully landed a necessary challenge grant. "We will have a beautiful new facility and we'll need the instruments to go with it," he says.
His vigorous schedule with the Boston Symphony Orchestra has kept Genis on his toes. He is especially pleased to be playing under James Levine, the music director of the BSO. "The orchestra sounds great with Levine," remarks Genis. "He's a huge fan of timpani and likes it when the percussion is quite prominent." Known for his promotion of new music and composers, Levine has introduced many contemporary orchestral pieces to the BSO. "It's particularly intriguing for me to play the new pieces," remarks Genis. "I get to stretch out and play things I wouldn't normally have an opportunity to play."
When Genis isn't playing with the BSO or teaching at BU, he's busy at work on two upcoming books. The first one, which is scheduled for release in the winter of 2010, focuses on the major percussion accessories and how to apply them in specific orchestral pieces, and is edited by famed percussionist Anthony Cirone. "The book features my interpretation and knowledge of the smaller percussion instruments in an orchestral setting," he notes. "It will be a great asset for students as well as professionals." The second book centers on all aspects of timpani maintenance, from mallet wrapping, instrument upkeep, and tucking or changing heads, among other things. "I've been working on this book for three years," says Genis. "It will definitely benefit all levels of percussionists including high school and college band teachers, students and professional players."
When reflecting upon his still young career, Genis is quite proud. "I feel that I am in the height of my career," he explains. "Being able to put a stamp on what I am accomplishing and to be able to play anything that is thrown at me is a great feeling. Throughout my career, I have learned that to be a great musician you need to have spontaneity, creativity and a vivid imagination." A strong supporter of music education, Genis feels that every musician needs to play an important role in bringing music to the masses. "It's important for individuals to support the arts in this country," he says. "I try to promote it my own way. The number of young people wanting to play an instrument is staggering. It's crucial for people like me to educate and enlighten those who are interested."