David Herbert is currently principal timpani of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since July 2013 after being appointed by Music Director Riccardo Muti. Prior to joining the CSO, he served as principal timpanist of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and the New World Symphony. He is widely considered a leader of cutting-edge solo timpani repertoire, accomplishing many commissions and world premiere performances every year.
Herbert has been featured as a guest artist at many of North America's premier ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony and St. Louis Symphony; with the latter orchestra he made his professional solo debut after winning its young artist competition in 1991. Since then, he has appeared as timpani concerto soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, and the New World Symphony, with which he made his Lincoln Center debut with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. He performed the world premiere of William Kraft’s Grand Encounter Timpani Concerto No. 2 in 2005 with the San Francisco Symphony, a commission written specifically for him and in October of 2013, he performed and recorded this concerto with the Symphony of Silicon Valley. With the SFS, he has performed as soloist in Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ and Percussion, William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 1 and Michael Tilson Thomas’s Island Music.
Herbert is sought after as a chamber musician and clinician around the world and has conducted master classes throughout North America, Japan, China, and Europe. He was a featured clinician at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 and will begin as Adjunct Professor of Percussion at DePaul University in the fall of 2014. He has also taught at the Boston Conservatory, the Music Academy of the West, and frequently at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan as an international principal percussion instructor, where he also performs chamber music with principal players of the world‘s premier ensembles.
Herbert began piano studies with his parents, both professional pianists. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in percussion performance from The Juilliard School, where he was a scholarship student of Roland Kohloff. Highlights of his early career include performing under Leonard Bernstein’s direction as a Tanglewood Music Fellow and with Lorin Maazel as principal timpanist for an extensive European tour with the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra. Lately, he has enjoyed a varied performance schedule including performances and recordings with the heavy metal rock band Metallica, an international tour with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, numerous principal timpani appearances with the Kozerthausorchester Berlin and also as a special guest artist with the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra in Osaka, Japan. Since 2007, he has performed as principal timpanist with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival and School.