Jonathan Haas


Jonathan Haas, Timpanist

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"...[Jonathan] Haas' particular passion -- he would say obsession -- was the timpani.  He had to have a timpani concerto by a major composer.  Philip Glass would do nicely, he thought."

"[Haas says] I found Philip Glass on the street outside.  I was like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, pulling on the tuxedo of Mr. Stokowski, and I said, 'I am the timpanist who wants to commission that piece.'  And he said, 'I remember you, you're that crazy timpanist.'"

Read more about how Jonathan Haas' passion to bring the timpani from the back of the orchestra to the front drove him to inspire Philip Glass to write Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists for him in Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim's wonderful feature in the January-February issue of Symphony Magazine.   

Click HERE to read it!



If you missed the similarly wonderful story about Jonathan in the November 20, 2009, Wall Street Journal, check it out HERE!



Click HERE to read the recent Yamaha Signature Sounds feature on Jonathan!

Also, listen to a half-hour interview with Jonathan about his work with Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists on "Modern Masterpieces," a program aired on Classical Public Radio Network's stations around the country.  

It airs on KUSC FM in Los Angeles at 10 pm Pacific time on Saturday, January 26, and you can stream it live at  

The other stations that also air this program are listed below.  Check their web sites for times/dates and whether they provide streamed live listening.

KUSC - Los Angeles (also, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks)
KVOD - Denver, CO (and other towns around the state)
KWTU - Tulsa, OK
Vermont Public Radio
WBHM - Birmingham, AL
WBNI - Fort Wayne, IN
WFSQ - Tallahassee, FL
WNIU - Rockford, IL
WOSU - Columbus, OH
WSHU - Fairfield, CT
WQED - Pittsburgh, PA
KLRE - Little Rock, AR



Listen to an interview with Jonathan on "Weekend America," the national American Public Media show that airs live on Saturday, December 8 and is also available for listening afterward online. 

To find out when it airs live in your area, click HERE for a list of stations.

Listen to the archived interview here:  Weekend America


FALL 2007

Keep an eye (and ear) out for coverage of Jonathan’s appearance performing Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists with the Pasadena Symphony on October 13.  A Los Angeles Times profile of him appears Sunday, October 7 (click HERE to read it), and there is another feature in the October 5 Los Angeles Daily News and Pasadena Star News.  You can listen to these radio interviews live online (some are archived, too):

Saturday, October 13, 2007
KUSC 91.5 FM, “Arts Alive”
8 am and 5 pm Pacific time

Click on link above, then scroll down and click on the link to the 10/13/07 Program;
Jonathan's interview begins at about 5:30 minutes into the broadcast

Friday, October 12, 2007
KCSN 88.5 FM, “Arts and Roots Forum”
4 pm Pacific time

Saturday, October 6, 2007
KPCC 89.3 FM, “Off-Ramp”
12 noon Pacific time
Click on link above, then scroll down to Jonathan's photo and click on the "With Mallets of Forethought" link

Jonathan will also be performing the Glass piece on October 31 at the Percussive Arts Society’s International Convention.



The next few months for Jonathan bring a week-long visit to Spain in May for a series of master classes in Bilbao and San Sebastian.  

In April, he records the wind ensemble version of Philip Glass' CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND ORCHESTRA with the University of Arizona wind ensemble.  (He performed the western U.S. premiere of this version at the University of Arizona in 2005.)  

Jonathan travels to Pasadena, California in October for an encore performance of the Glass piece with Maestro Jorge Mester and the Pasadena Symphony, with whom he first played it six years ago.  

And later that month, he performs the Glass piece in Columbus, Ohio at the Percussive Arts Society's International Convention.  This is the largest percussion event in the world, featuring over 150 concerts, clinics, master classes, labs, workshops, panels and presentations.

One of Jonathan's most spectacular projects is his BROADWAY PERCUSSION SEMINAR, June 7 to 12, 2007, an intensive, hands-on study of the world of Broadway percussionists young professionals and high school and college percussionists.  Hosted by Jonathan and presented by the NYU Steinhardt Classical Percussion Program (which he directs), the seminar includes studies with the percussionists from Broadway shows such as The Lion King, The Producers, Les Miserables, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, 
and The Wedding Singer, and Radio City Music Hall.  Among the seven-day program's features are preparation sessions, a round-table discussion/Q&A with leading contractors, conductors, percussionists, managers, and special guests, and SHOW DAY in which participants visit and tour pits of a Broadway show.  After attending one of the shows, dinner is served with the percussionist who played the show.  To participate or for more information, call the NYU Office of Special Programs at 212-992-9380, or click HERE

Last September, Jonathan was featured on Classical Public Radio Network's Dial-A-Musician program that aired on 20 or so classical music radio stations around the country.  His interview with program host Orli Shaham answered a listener's question about techniques for playing the timpani.  Jonathan, who was introduced as "the only solo virtuoso timpanist around, the superstar of the timpani," discussed how a timpanist creates a percussive phrase, i.e. when to initiate a sound and when to take it out, and he also explained the subtleties of using one's hands to muffle or stop sound made by a timpani.

Jonathan continues to collect raves for his performances of Philip Glass' CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND ORCHESTRA over the last six months, including concerts with the Louisville Orchestra (Jorge Mester, conductor) last September in Louisville, Kentucky, the Orchestre National de France (James Conlon, conductor) in November in Paris, and the Naples Philharmonic (Jorge Mester, conductor) in November and December in Naples, Florida. 

Earlier this year, Jonathan performed the work in Zagreb, Croatia with the Croatian Radio Television Symphony Orchestra (Zsolt Hamar, conductor), where he also conducted master classes at the Zagreb Conservatory and in Riga, Latvia. 

The media coverage of these recent performances was extensive.  The Naples Daily News review said, in part:

"The second in this season’s classical series by the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra is titled “Schubert’s ‘The Great.’”  And that’s exactly what the program proved itself to be — and not because of Schubert.  No.  Nestled in the middle of the evening’s program was an absolutely phenomenal piece by contemporary American composer Philip Glass.  “Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra” proved itself to be a blockbuster.  The concerto was commissioned by guest artist Jonathan Haas, one of the evening’s two timpanists.  Fourteen timpani front and center on the concert stage!  The visual impact alone of the sheer mass of gleaming timpani was nearly overwhelming.  This is a concerto with such great rhythm, such energy, it was virtually impossible not to head nod or toe tap.  Every time I reluctantly tore my eyes away from what was unfolding on stage and sneaked a peek at the audience, that’s what any number of them were doing.  I must confess I, who am not always thrilled by some of the “new classical music” was practically whimpering in ecstasy throughout the entire performance.  I didn’t want it to end.  And when it was finally over — when it was impossible to believe either timpanist could add one more note before their arms fell off — the audience erupted.  Cheered.  Gave the orchestra and the two timpanists a standing ovation.  Thus, by the time Schubert’s “Great” began, we had already experienced the great."

In Paris, the audience reacted similarly.  A web site blogger enthused (loosely translated from French):

"Haas is prodigiously extraordinary, with an agility and a skill in the handling of the mallets that is absolutely amazing.  The sound which starts the third movement, entirely made by Haas with the palm of his hands on the timpani, is really magic.  The whole work is splendid and of an incredible beauty.  At the last measure, James Conlon raised his baton, remained like that -- the raised hands, suspended in the air four seconds – then lowered the baton, and the whole room exploded in applause.  There were eight successive encores!  There had been so many encores that Conlon, Benetti and Haas decided to reprise the last movement.  I left with all these notes in the head, my pleasure doubling that I had lived (and heard) an extraordinary moment."

The Louisville Journal called it "a spectacular piece"
and described Jonathan as "delighting in hyperkinetic excursions with various mallets…  There was no stopping him…"



Jonathan will perform Philip Glass' CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND ORCHESTRA with the Louisville Orchestra (Jorge Mester, conductor) on September 28 and 29, 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky; with the Orchestre National de France (James Conlon, conductor) on Wednesday, November 22, 2006, in Paris, and with the Naples Philharmonic (Jorge Mester, conductor) on November 30, December 1 and 2, 2006, in Naples, Florida.  

His performance of this work with the Seattle Symphony in May garnered rave reviews, including this from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy with two timpani soloists, not only was the centerpiece of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's Made in America Festival but also its biggest hit.  People whooped and hollered after the dazzling display of timpani virtuosity by Jonathan Haas, who commissioned the concerto, and Svet Stoyanov.  The heart of the piece is the slow movement in which one gets a genuine chance to hear the 14 kettledrums -- seven for each soloist -- in all their glory.  What got everyone's attention were the two cadenzas, almost back to back, at the beginning of the third movement. First, it was Haas playing with fury and precision, and with some unusual effects.  Then, it was his younger colleague, Stoyanov, who gave his extended solo visceral excitement, not only aurally but visually, as his mallets moved seemingly at the speed of light across the skins of seven drums. Haas and Stoyanov, each with impressive résumés, are first-class musicians.

A review of the Glass Concerto CD in the October 2005 issue of Percussive Notes enthused:

Jonathan Haas successfully organized a commission that resulted in the Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, a work that enjoys the distinction of being the first double concerto for timpani in the history of music.  Using two soloists gives the composer an impressive melodic arsenal provided by 14 timpani (each soloist plays seven drums), and when the other timpanist is the multi-talented Evelyn Glennie, who joins Haas in a collaborative effort that displays the artistry and impeccable musicianship of both soloists, it is a “win win” situation. They are backed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gérard Schwarz.

This concerto should continue to be a hit on orchestra programs, thanks to its ability to create a visual spectacle, but also for a number of musical reasons, such as its extraordinary use of 14 timpani along with some rapid tuning changes that make it feasible to play long and intricate melodic lines.  If the critical acclaim earned thus far is any indication, this double concerto should readily find a permanent place in the repertoire.  The performance heard on this disc, with a first-rate orchestra and conductor, validates these positive reviews.

Jonathan was featured in a July 9, 2006, Los Angeles Times feature story about the increase in the number of performing opportunities for classical musicians in the summer time.   Here is an excerpt:

Percussionist Jonathan Haas has an active concert career (one specialty is Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, written for him). But he also plays and teaches at the summer Aspen Music Festival in Colorado at the same time that he runs a musicians contracting company (Gemini Music Productions) and a percussion rental company (Kettles and Company).

"The music business has gotten where you have to fill up your year with as much stuff as possible," Haas says. "Especially in New York, you try to pack in as much as you can because the marketplace is shrinking so badly. I'm lucky. It's all accelerated. But my schedule has been like this for about 18 years."

Haas notes too that the vision of a laid-back summer doesn't always jibe with a seasonal set of responsibilities. Students in summer programs, he says, "want that experience to be truly valuable. 'I don't want my teacher on the golf course or playing tennis,' they say. 'I need him to be at the concert to give me coaching.' "

And finally, listen for Jonathan's interview on Classical Public Radio Network's Dial A Musician feature that will be aired soon on 20 classical music radio stations around the country.



Jonathan will perform Philip Glass' CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND ORCHESTRA with the Chicago Symphony (James Conlon, conductor) on Friday, July 15 at the Ravinia Festival 2005.   Details to come.

Jonathan is currently performing in Jerusalem and Istanbul, and he's just back from playing the Glass piece in Milwaukee with the Milwaukee Symphony.  

The performance was praised by the  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which said, "A whack on a big drum at the end of a closing wave of speed and volume never fails to excite an audience.  Friday night's Milwaukee Symphony concert, led by Gregory Vajda, proved the rule.  The big crowd got to its feet for ... the local premiere of Philip Glass' Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra.  One timpanist was Jonathan Haas, who urged Glass to compose the piece and helped arrange the consortium of commissioning orchestras (the MSO is among them)... Haas showed the delicate side of the timpani.  He dragged a mallet across the drumhead and pedaled its pitch, to evoke a whale song, and slapped the skins with his hands, conga-style.  The big finish is a kick... The soloists played with confidence and vigor."

FALL 2004

Jonathan is just back from an acclaimed performance of the Philip Glass CONCERTO FANTASY FOR TWO TIMPANISTS AND ORCHESTRA with the Sydney Symphony (October 2004).  This Australian premiere of the piece was played in the famed Sydney Opera House, receiving rave reviews and considerable press coverage. 

Jonathan was hailed by critics as "versatile and virtuosic," and the piece was described as a "convincing musical vision of intensity and drama" by the Sydney Morning Herald, which also said, "The most engaging aspect was the infectious enjoyment of the players themselves."  Another writer called the piece, "A unique, three-movement concerto with cadenza… inspired by Jonathan Haas, who first suggested the idea of a timpani-led concerto to the composer over ten years ago."

In a feature story from The Australian titled "Drums Roll Up to Center Stage," Jonathan's characteristic sense of humor was illustrated in this passage:  "Even on their own, the 12 drums produce remarkable effects, from low rumblings and comic twangs to intricate rhythmic passages and groovy syncopations.  'Boy, it sounds great,' Haas said. 'What do we need an orchestra for?'" 

Another passage from this interview:  "Glass is usually known as a minimalist composer because of his use of repetitive rhythms.  But Haas described the double timpani concerto as a 'maximalist' piece.  He [also explained that] part of the appeal of percussion instruments was the low-frequency sounds they produce.  'There is no way that somebody can sit in the audience and be passive - they can actually feel the sound,' he said."

In addition to all the newspaper coverage, Jonathan was interviewed on three radio stations.  Even an Internet "blogger" wrote about it, saying, "Tonight Kenneth and I headed off to the Opera House to listen to a pretty amazing program.  Highlight had to be the Philip Glass Concerto Fantasy, which was pretty brilliant.  Richard Miller from the SSO played alongside world-famous percussionist Jonathan Haas."

And, he conducted two Master Classes, one at the Sydney Conservatory and the other in Melbourne at the Victoria Academy of Music.

Jonathan will next perform the Glass CONCERTO with the Milwaukee Symphony in March 2005 and with the Istanbul Philharmonic, for the Turkish premiere, in April 2005.

He will also premiere a wind ensemble version at Peabody University (Baltimore) in February, and this unusual version will also be played during the coming year at other colleges around the country including the University of Arizona and Florida State University.


Jonathan is making news in this country too with the September 2004 release of the timpani concerto on PHILIP GLASS Concerto Project Vol. I (issued by Glass' Orange Mountain Music label).  Conducted by Gerard Schwarz, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performs the piece with Jonathan and Evelyn Glennie as timpani soloists.  The concerto was recorded in the acoustically wonderful Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, January, 2004. 

Among the CD's rave reviews is this comment by noted music critic Bradley Bambarger, who said, "[The concerto] is the freshest thing [Glass] has created in a while.  This appealing, even exciting piece should be a hit on orchestral programs." 

Another critic noted, "[The concerto is] a terrifically fun piece.  Truly this must be considered a masterpiece in Glass’s repertoire," and added that the work was "…performed impeccably.  One could hardly wish for a better rendering of the music."

According to an Orange Mountain Music statement, "The soloists were superb, exhibiting their well deserved recognition of being at the top of their respective fields. The orchestra, under Mr. Schwarz’s direction, performed beautifully.  Orange Mountain Music is very happy to initiate Philip Glass’ Concerto Project with this disc. The booklet included with the CD contains the arist’s bios and there comments on working with and performing Philip Glass’ music."


Jonathan's teaching duties have led to some interesting projects, including a Halloween 2004 performance directing and playing a Frank Zappa tribute concert with his NYU Percussion Studio Ensemble.

The nearly sold-out evening featured works by Zappa and Edgar Varese, another 20th Century composer, whose work influenced Zappa.  Neither arranged their work for percussion ensembles, so Jonathan adapted the pieces for his 11-member group.  According to a New York newspaper's account of the evening, Jonathan, who worked with Zappa on the song "The Black Page," closed the concert, "with a song meant to demonstrate 'what it might sound like if Zappa and Varese ever did get together,' Haas said.  This electro-funk composition, his take on 'The Black Page,' had elements of drum machines, congas and a siren.  Haas jumped into the performance, playing alongside his students and conducting when he saw fit.  'It was unbelievable,' Haas said."

Jonathan is acting director of the New York University Classical Percussion Department, where he's introducing a first-of-its-kind program that includes in-depth theatrical percussion studies, the first modern-day Timpani Guild and an innovative classical percussion program. 

2004 also marks Jonathan's 22nd year on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory and his 20th season with the Aspen Music Festival and School.


Jonathan has joined the Juilliard Pre-College Percussion Faculty for a one year appointment beginning in the fall of 2004.  He will be active in areas of recruitment as well as continuing to mentor and teach in one of the most progressive and comprehensive course of studies offered to exceptionally motivated high school students.


Click HERE to see photos of Jonathan's "world's largest timpani." 


Jonathan has invented a process to improve the performance of crash cymbals that has been developed into a new instrument called "The Master Series Anti-Lock Cymbal" produced by Zildjian, the largest manufacturer of cymbals in the world. 



St. Louis Symphony

conducted by David Robertson 
in a concert saluting the composer's 100th year

Click HERE for details!

University of Florida, Gainsville Florida

Jonathan is the timpani soloist 
with the UofF Wind ensemble
performing Raise the Roof by Michael Dougherty

Philip Glass' 
Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra

APRIL 24 - MAY 6
San Francisco Ballet

Click HERE for details!