The clear, resounding pitch produced by Dresden-style timpani can now be heard during performances in both the intimate Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall and spacious King Concert Hall, as well as in student percussion lessons at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.
What sets the five new, world-class timpani apart from other timpani at the School of Music is the specialized pedal mechanism, which changes the tension and resulting pitch of the resonating skin that covers each drum. Along with that, each timpano reflects an extensive amount of precision machine work and hand-hammering that went into crafting its large, copper bowl.
Joseph Ianaconi (center), flanked by (from left): Dr. Kay Stonefelt, professor of Music, and fellow percussion majors Dan Smith, Kevin Rogers, Michael Mastin, and Katlin Wolford, practices on the new timpanis recently acquired by the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.
“Precision is the key here,” Dr. Karolyn Stonefelt, percussion professor, said. “Everything is precisely measured and the drums are perfectly round. That’s very, very important to the sound reflection and getting a clear pitch. These are state-of-the-art. Every major symphony orchestra has them.”
The five new timpani, valued at nearly $50,000, were purchased as part of the equipment renovation project for the new Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall. Custom-built by the family-owned American Drum Manufacturing Company of Denver, Col., the five drums range in size from 20 to 32 inches in diameter.
“I am thrilled students can play these quality instruments and have experience using this pedal mechanism, which is completely different from the other timpani that we have,” Dr. Stonefelt said. “It will better prepare them to go out on auditions for either graduate schools or professional organizations.”
The other drums in the Fredonia School of Music have not been machined in the same way, but are still considered high quality, Dr. Stonefelt said. “These new timpani are known for their precise fine-tuning capacity,” she explained. “The metal parts are more reliable as far as holding pitch and keeping the drums round.”
The timpani are expected to enhance the learning experiences of percussion majors at the School of Music, while at the same time accentuating performances by students, faculty, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra.
Dr. Stonefelt, a member of WNYCO and the percussion coordinator at the Fredonia School of Music, is looking forward to using the new instruments in her classroom, as well as playing them herself in WYNCO concerts. She is in her 14th year on the Fredonia faculty.
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