Timpani & Percussion

David Herbert

Principal Timpani, Marcia & John Goldman Chair

SFS member since: 1994

Hometown:  Columbia, MO

Music schools you attended: Saint Louis Conservatory, Juilliard School

Began playing music: At age 4       

Musical inspirations: My parents

If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: Airline pilot, veterinarian, ichthyologist

Favorite composers: Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert

Favorite works featuring my instrument: Beethoven, Symphony No. 9; Nielsen, Symphony No. 4; Brahms, Symphony No. 1; Strauss, Burleske

When I’m not working, I enjoy: Exercise, biking, jogging, working out, cooking, spending time with family

On my CD player/iPod: Turbo Weekend, Ray Charles, Ink Spots, Wanda Jackson
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Bike riding, exploring my neighborhood (Mission District)

Plus: I am currently writing a book about the timpani parts in the Mahler symphonies. I’m premiering a solo piece commissioned by MTT and composed by Alex Orfaly with the New World Symphony in Miami.


James Lee Wyatt, III

James Lee Wyatt III joined the San Francisco Symphony in 2001 after serving as principal percussionist of the Honolulu Symphony. A native of Princeton, Kentucky, he received his bachelor’s from the University of Michigan and his master’s from Temple University. Mr. Wyatt has performed with the Santa Fe Opera, National Repertory Orchestra, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, and the Ojai Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, and the US and Italian Spoleto Festivals. 

(September 2016)

On being in the Orchestra:
I'm fortunate to be part of an incredible percussion section. We play together as a unit, while still bringing individual concepts and approaches to the music. It's an honor performing with MTT and the SFS. Michael is very innovative and spontaneous. He allows the musicians to take chances, which always leads to edge-of-the-seat performances.

Favorite composer:
My clear favorite is Dmitri Shostakovich, not only for his great percussion writing, but also for the angst and conflict that define his music. In 1998 I played snare drum on the Symphony No. 11 with MTT at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. Years later, in the final round of my SFS audition, I played excerpts from that work with MTT. Revisiting this piece as part of winning my job is an experience I’ll never forget.

Outside the Orchestra:
I own two businesses: California Percussion, LLC, manufactures and sells percussion instruments; and Absolutely Music, Inc., offers backline, piano, and percussion rentals. Both began as hobbies and became serious commitments. My leisure pursuits tend to be associated with my career: I enjoy traveling the world in search of exotic percussion instruments.


Raymond Froehlich

Raymond Froehlich joined the San Francisco Symphony as a percussionist in 1991. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he was previously a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and a timpanist with the Berkeley Symphony. He has performed with several jazz ensembles in the Bay Area, as well as a rock trio and Ultra World X-tet, which combines Chinese instruments with saxophone, electric guitar, and bass. 

(October 2017)

Tom Hemphill


SFS member since:  1974

Hometown:   Burbank, CA

Music schools you attended:  Oberlin College

Began playing music: At age 9      

Musical inspirations:  Drummer Hack O’Brien

If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: Mediator

Favorite composers: Berlioz, Mahler, Copland

Favorite works featuring my instrument: Harrison, Canticle No. 3; Shostakovich, Symphony No. 11; Orff, Carmina burana; Beethoven, Symphony No. 9

When I’m not working, I enjoy: Eating, cooking, home renovation/preservation, walking with my wife

Recent reading: Write!, by Arthur Krystal

On my CD player/iPod: Swedish fiddle and African harp music

Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Urban walks (especially SF): walk, stop, drink, walk, stop, eat, enjoy the salt air.

Plus: I love coaching the Youth Orchestra.

Victor Avdienko