Percussion / Principal
James Jacobson is Principal Timpanist of the Richmond Symphony and Percussion Coordinator of the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria. He was Acting Principal Timpanist of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra from 2013–15, and has performed with the Czech Philharmonic, National Symphony (with whom he is going on tour to Russia in 2017), Minnesota Orchestra, and the Jacksonville Symphony; as well as the Columbus, Toledo, Virginia, Annapolis, Key West, and Stamford Symphony Orchestras; and the Joffrey and Bolshoi Ballet Company Orchestras. Previously, he held principal positions with the Delaware and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestras.
Besides orchestral performance, Mr. Jacobson also teaches at the Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond, and gives master classes and concerts at the annual International Percussion Festival in Patagonia, Argentina. He has been a guest recitalist at the International Percussion Conference in Espinho, Portugal, and performed marimba duos together with his teacher, Keiko Abe, on tour in Japan and the US. As a timpani soloist, James has performed Druchetzky’s Partita in C Major for Six Timpani and David Schiff’s Speaking in Drums, both with the Richmond Symphony.
James also enjoys traveling, languages, skiing, cycling, and being in the company of cats. He produced pop music and played in the punk/rock band Big Fun in Los Angeles for several years; studied marimba, learned to ride motorcycles, and speak Japanese while living in Tokyo; ran with the bulls in Pomplona, Spain; and still manages to return to Germany each summer, where he received his timpani training from Wieland Welzel of the Berlin Philharmonic.
In addition to Mr. Welzel, James studied with Tom Freer, Keiko Abe, Leigh Howard Stevens, and Robert Van Sice. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (with honors), University of Minnesota, and a doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.