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John Grimes

Timpani Faculty

John Grimes earned his B.M. from the University of Miami, his M.M. from the New England Conservatory and pursued doctoral studies at the University of California, San Diego. He studied percussion with Fred Wickstrom, timpani with Vic Firth and Cloyd Duff. For the last three decades, Grimes has been solo timpanist with the Boston Baroque and Handel & Haydn Society orchestras. He also performs with Boston Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Cantata Singers and other Boston-based organizations.

Past orchestral affiliations include solo timpanist with the Opera Company of Boston (1976–1990), Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela (1970–1972) and as percussionist with  the Greater Miami Philharmonic and San Diego Symphony (1960s). Music festivals he has performed in include American Wind Symphony Orchestra, Dartmouth Congregation of the Arts, Lake George Opera, Marlboro, Monadnock Music and Tanglewood. Audio recordings include Beethoven—Symphony No. 9 with American Bach Soloists (American recordings); works of Bach, Cherubini, Handel and Mozart with Boston Baroque (Telarc); works of Handel, Mozart and Tavener with Handel & Haydn Society/Chanticleer (Arabesque & Teldec); Fussell-Specimen Days with Cantata Singers (Koch); Kirchner—Music for Orchestra (Albany Records); Tcherepnin4 Symphonies and 2 Pft. Concerti with the Singapore Symphony (BIS); and Red, White & Brass with Canadian Brass-(EMI Phillips). For his complete discography, see

In 2003, Grimes performed in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio with Concerto Koln at the Concertgebouw and Luzerne Music Festival Hall. In  2005 and 2009, he performed Handel's Messiah and Bach's Orchestral Suites with Boston Baroque in Poland and Puerto Rico.  In July 2007, he performed Haydn's Seasons under Sir Roger Norrington with the Handel & Haydn Society in London’s Royal Albert Hall. In August 2009, invited by Venezuela’s world famous  ‘El Sistema,’ he taught master classes and conducted advanced ensembles at the International Festival of Percussion in Guanare, Venezuela. During summer 2010, Grimes toured the U.S. and Canada as timpanist with the Star Wars in Concert Orchestra. In November, he co-presented a lecture/performance titled The History and Development of the Baroque Timpani  with Boston Conservatory alumnus William Shaltis (M.M. '07) at the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Conference in Indianapolis, IN.

During summers 2006, 2008 and 2011, Grimes  traveled to  Vienna, Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin to pursue his lifelong interest in German and Viennese timpani performance practices. Former vice president of the Boston Musicians Association, Local # 9-535, Grimes continues to be an advocate for musicians’ intellectual property, economic rights and social justice.

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