David Riccobono named assistant principal timpani/section percussion with the LA Phil

By Katalina Garber

Percussionist David Riccobono (MM ‘19) recently began a new position as the assistant principal timpani/section percussion with the LA Philharmonic. In this position, Riccobono plays in both the timpani and percussion sections, which makes him one of the busiest players in the orchestra. This marks the first time that the LA Philharmonic has filled this position.

“It’s going to be really exciting and challenging since this is a new position. There are lots of logistics to work out at first, but will be smooth sailing afterwards,” said Riccobono.

Percussionist and USC Thornton Winds & Percussion Department Adjunct Associate Professor Jim Babor is proud of how far Riccobono has come in such a short time and is looking forward to playing alongside him in the LA Phil.

“It’s difficult to find someone who can play both timpani and percussion at a high level. A lot of times, this position goes unfilled for long periods of time,” said Babor. “David is super versatile. He’s a very natural player, and he has a very accommodating and laidback personality. That increases his flexibility and makes him the perfect person for this type of job.”

The percussion section of the LA Philharmonic has increasingly been filled with faculty members and alumni from USC Thornton over the past few years, which is a testament to the Thornton Percussion Studio that Babor and Director of Percussion Studies Joseph Pereira have put together.

“I think our program’s really unique in the way that everybody studies with both of us, so one week, they’re with me, the next week, they’re with Jim. So you’re focusing on mostly timpani with me and mostly percussion with Jim,” said Pereira. “The goal is just to make everyone a really solid player on everything.”