Tim Higgins

Principal, Robert L. Samter Chair

Timothy Higgins is the San Francisco Symphony’s Principal Trombone and holder of the Robert L. Samter Chair. He was previously acting second trombone with the National Symphony. A Houston native, Mr. Higgins graduated from Northwestern University and has performed with the Milwaukee, Virginia, and Chicago symphonies, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and the Baltimore Symphony. In 2005, he won the Robert Marsteller Competition and the ITA Trombone Quartet Competition, both part of the International Trombone Association. 

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(January 2015)

Nick Platoff

Associate Principal Trombone

Nick PlatoffNicholas Platoff spent two years as a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami prior to joining the SFS as Associate Principal Trombone in the 2016-17 season. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance and Music Theory from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and is an alumnus of New Haven’s Neighborhood Music School. His teachers include Michael Mulcahy, Per Brevig, Christopher Davis, Peter Ellefson, Terrence Fay, Randall Hawes, Timothy Higgins, and Douglas Wright.

Mr. Platoff has been recognized in both national and international competitions, such as the Aspen Music Festival and School Brass and Percussion Concerto Competition, National Brass Symposium Trombone Excerpt Competition, and United States Coast Guard Band Young Artist Competition. In September 2015, he was the only American to advance to the second round of the ARD competition in Munich. He has performed at the Verbier Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Britten-Pears Programme, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he was the Per Brevig Trombone Fellow. Recent and upcoming performances include concerts at Festival Mozaic, the Lakes Area Music Festival, and Burning Man.

In college, Mr. Platoff founded the Players’ Operation Chamber Orchestra and served as its conductor and artistic director, presenting concerts that featured student soloists and premiered student compositions. During his time with the New World Symphony, he produced and curated MIXTAPE, the first-ever concert of the New Audience Fellow Initiative, which offered a multi-genre program to a standing room audience. He also co-produced a day-long music festival to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A committed educator, Mr. Platoff works weekly as the low brass section coach for the award-winning SFS Youth Orchestra. He was a co-founder of the Miami Brass Festival, a day-long clinic for young brass players. His trombone students have gone on to study at the Manhattan School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory, Interlochen Arts Academy, and the Tanglewood Institute.

(May 2017)

Paul Welcomer

Paul Welcomer joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1994 after one year as an acting member of the Orchestra. Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, he received a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Welcomer served as principal trombone of the Alabama Symphony and the United States Air Force Band. He teaches trombone at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he is conductor of the brass ensemble.

Paul Welcomer has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.

(April 2013)

John Engelkes


John Engelkes John Engelkes joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1981. A native of Iowa, he was previously a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Florida Symphony. He studied with John Hansen at the University of Northern Iowa, where he received his bachelor’s degree, and later pursued a master's degree at Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he studied with Frank Crisafulli and Edward Kleinhammer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While in Chicago, Mr. Engelkes performed with the Chicago Symphony, Northwestern Wind Ensemble, Northwestern Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Chicago Pops. Mr. Engelkes has appeared at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in 2011, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Sun Valley Music Festival. A founding member of the Bay Brass, he also serves on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and in 2014 was a guest artist and faculty member of the International Trombone Festival.

(February 2018)