Timpani & Percussion

Ed Stephan

Principal Timpani

Ed StephanRecently appointed principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Ed Stephan is recognized as one of the most exciting and dynamic timpanists in the United States. He has been praised for his “strong and multi-faceted playing” as well as his “captivating command behind the instrument.” Prior to his appointment in San Francisco, Stephan held the position of principal timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 2011-2016. He was the principal timpanist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 2009-2011, and before that the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from 2001-2009. While in Texas, he appeared twice as soloist with the FWSO and was awarded the American Airlines Distinguished Musician Award in 2006.

Stephan began his percussion training at the age of six. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. He was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2000 and 2001. He can be heard on numerous recordings with the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as the FWSO, DSO and North Texas Wind Symphony—including a number of Grammy nominated performances. While living in Boston, Stephan performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the New Haven Symphony and the National Lyric Opera.

In recent years, Stephan has appeared as a guest with the Chicago Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, The Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the Kansas City Symphony, The Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Dallas Opera Orchestra. He has served as the principal timpanist of the Crested Butte Summer Music Festival and is currently timpanist of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Mr. Stephan is in demand as a teacher and clinician. He presents regular masterclasses throughout North America, Europe and Asia at many of the world’s most prestigious conservatories, universities and festivals. He is a co-host and presenter of the annual Washburgh Timpani Seminar, he is on the faculty at the Aspen Music Festival, and currently serves as chair of the percussion department at Duquesne University. Ed proudly endorses Adams timpani, Pearl percussion products, Remo percussion products, Luft Timpani Mallets, and Mike Balter mallets.

Jacob Nissly

Jacob NisslyJacob Nissly was appointed Principal Percussion of the San Francisco Symphony in 2013. Previously, he was principal percussion of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony. He also served as a member of the New World Symphony. He is on the percussion faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory and is currently a coach for the SFS Youth Orchestra. He has also taught at the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Mr. Nissly holds a Bachelor of Music and Jazz Studies from Northwestern University and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School. He began his percussion studies with Woody Smith in Iowa. For more on Jacob Nissly, visit sfsymphony.org/jacobnissly.

(January 2018)

Raymond Froehlich

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.

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)