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Six Months In: STL Symphony Principal Timpanist Shannon Wood On Upcoming Concert & His New Role

Courtesy St. Louis Symphony
Shannon Wood, Principal Timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony.

When Shannon Wood assumed the role of Principal Timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony last September, he had big shoes to fill.  His predecessor Richard Holmes had been in the position for 41 years before his death in 2011.  Wood never met his predecessor but was well aware of his reputation and was humbled to accept the position.

Wood came to St. Louis from the Grand Rapids Symphony and actually had multiple offers after auditioning for a number of positions.  Wood explained to Steve Potter why the St. Louis Symphony was his first choice. “I really loved working with David Robertson [Wood had played with the St. Louis Symphony as a substitute the previous season] and the orchestra had something unique and special.  The fellowship and the sense of friendships really stood out.  I loved the city and it wasn’t a huge change geographically… But really, it had to do with just the orchestra, the community and David’s vision. It’s a fantastic orchestra.”

In addition to his work as timpanist, Wood is also a composer.  He began dabbling in composition at age five with a work titled “Hot Dog.” Through his teens he improvised on piano and guitar and then began writing down his ideas in his late teens and early 20s.

Wood’s composition “Oort Cloud” will be featured in on the St. Louis Symphony Community Partnerships “Symphony in Your College” program on March 23 at Washington University’s 560 Music Center.  Written for an eight piece ensemble of winds, strings and percussion, it depicts a spherical cloud of icy bodies in the outer Solar System known as the Oort Cloud.  Wood used different effects including pizzicato in the strings and quick runs in the woodwinds to project the ideas of celestial bodies such as comets.  He will be joined by seven of his St. Louis Symphony colleagues in the work.

Other works on the program include “Kestral” for flute, harp and percussion, a tonal painting representing a small falcon, and “Brujo” for solo percussion which reflects the Dagari people of the West African Country of Ghana. In addition, the Washington University Beat Therapy ensemble, CRASH will perform an improvisational piece using non-traditional percussive instruments.

Related Event

St. Louis Symphony's "Symphony in Your College" Chamber Music Concert
Sunday, March 23, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Washington University's 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Avenue
(314) 533-2500 or visit the St. Louis Symphony website.

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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