Meet the SFS Musicians: Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins

SFS Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins is adept at mixing his passions: an intense orchestra life, balanced by running, food and drink, and composing.

Timothy Higgins

Principal Trombone, Robert L. Samter Chair
SFS Member: 2008
Hometown: Houston, TX

“Playing in an orchestra is a pretty interesting kind of sociological experiment.” In other words, according to SFS Principal Trombone Timothy Higgins, it’s about being part of a community, contributing to the orchestra’s single voice. At the same time, between rehearsing, practicing, performing, teaching, and thinking about the next project, "I find I need to have a place that is not steeped in music to go to sometimes, to kind of clear my mind or sort through my thoughts."

The road to that kind of balance is literally the road: Tim is a serious runner, having competed in four marathons and several half marathons. He and his wife, actress Sharon Rietkerk, often go for a run in the morning, enjoying longer runs on weekends. “That also gives me an excuse to go drink wine and eat. I feel like they feed each other."

The Houston native got into wine about a decade ago. “Obviously, coming out here to join the Orchestra, I was really excited about being able to duck up to Napa and Sonoma!” In addition, Tim has taken advantage of the Bay Area’s robust cocktail scene and enjoys sharing his own creations with friends in the Orchestra. He also makes time every day to dine with his wife—not easy in a two-performer household.

Timothy Higgins

There’s also a musical side to Tim’s balancing act: composing for players in the Orchestra and other musician friends. “I started exploring it seriously a few years ago, a 'bucket list’ kind of thing.” Favorite pieces include Altemusik scored for alto trombone, marimba, and harpsichord (“I get a lot of response on how unique that sound world is”) and a piece inspired by a warm-up routine SFS Principal Tuba Jeff Anderson performs before rehearsal. Tim’s compositions and arrangements have been heard on SFS chamber and holiday concerts. In April he takes on a different role, curating a program featuring some of his compositions at SFS SoundBox.

"I feel like my job as a composer is to create something that will hopefully have its own life afterwards. I compare it to parenting: I’m ‘raising’ this piece, then at a certain point you cut the cord and let it go, and hope that it has everything it needs to survive."

So: an intense orchestra life, balanced by running, food and drink, and composing, all coming together on stage at Davies Symphony Hall.

“I feel as orchestral musicians, we’re the focal point between a composer and an audience,” says Tim. “The composer has something to say, and we’re all here enjoying it and getting something out it. My colleagues in the orchestra are incredible players…and it’s unbelievable the support that we get from our audience.”

Follow Tim on Twitter and Instagram @SFSTimHiggins