Neil Percy

Head of Timpani and Percussion


Timpani and Percussion - Head of Timpani and Percussion

Timpanist and percussionist with the London Symphony Orchestra

Works with composers, film composers, pop and jazz artists

Gives masterclasses and coaches at conservatoires and percussion events in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia

Neil has been a member of the London Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years and has been Head of Timpani and Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music for over 15 years.  During this time Neil has worked closely with many major artists and conductors and as a soloist with Sir Colin Davis, Pierre Boulez, Steve Reich, Francois Xavier-Roth, Karl Jenkins, Ravi Shankar, Ken Nagano and Elgar Howarth.

The EMI recording of Karl Jenkins’ Marimba Concerto and Triple Concerto for Percussion, Flutes and Keyboards, was released to wide critical acclaim, as was the Grammy nominated Bartok Concerto for 2 Pianos and Percussion for Deutsche Grammophon with Pierre Boulez, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Tamara Stefanovich, Nigel Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra.

In both live and studio situations, Neil has worked closely with many composers for over 150 film scores - notably John Williams, James Horner, Patrick Doyle and Alexandre Desplat in their music for films such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Braveheart, Twilight-New Moon, Brave, Rise of the Guardians and the Monuments Men.

Neil has also enjoyed working with many major pop and jazz artists including Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Dave Brubeck, Joe Zawinal, Tony Bennett, Luther Vandross and Vince Mendoza.

Neil has collaborated with Tim Garland in a star-studded nine-piece group Momentum with John Patitucci, Joe Locke and Geoffrey Keezer. Neil and Tim later premiered Momentum's concerto for saxophones and percussion with the London Symphony Orchestra in Spring 2011 to enthusiastic acclaim.

As a clinician and educator, Neil has given masterclasses at many leading conservatoires and percussion events in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia and has coached many of the world's leading youth orchestras, including the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

The Academy's Timpani and Percussion department's first CD, Reich for Percussion, an ambitious project featuring music composed over a period of 30 years, was released in 2013.

Personal philosophy of teaching

Employability is key to the ethos of the Timpani and Percussion Faculty and very important to me personally. A major focus during my time as Head of Department has been to gather an amazing team of professors that cover all relevant areas of the multi-faceted world of timpani and percussion.

Our professors are active players who are at the top of their fields. They fully understand what is relevant in the profession ‘now’ and they prepare our students to meet the high standards of our ever-changing profession.

Another key to the success of the department has been to keep standards high and student numbers comparatively low, ensuring an excellent student/facility ratio. Add into this equation the quality of the Academy’s equipment, the practice space and resources readily available and the wide-range of projects... the prospects of high achievement really take off!

I'm a firm believer that talent gets you so far, but hard work can take you all the way.

Selected recordings

Karl Jenkins: Marimba Concerto and Triple Concerto. Karl Jenkins, LSO

Bartók: Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion. Pierre Boulez, LSO

Nielsen: Symphony no.5. Sir Colin Davis, LSO Live

Prokofiev: Symphony no.5. Valery Gergiev, LSO

Vince Mendoza: Epiphany. Vince Mendoza, LSO

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