- Published: Thursday, 08 December 2016 09:22
The London Philharmonic Orchestra is sad to report the passing of Alan Cumberland, LPO Principal Timpanist from 1968–87.
Alan worked with all of the world's great conductors during his time with the Orchestra, notably Sir Adrian Boult, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Klaus Tennstedt, and his wonderful musicianship and distinctive sound can be heard on many recordings from that era.
Alan had unique gifts as a player and as a teacher: he was Professor of Timpani at the Royal College of Music in London from 1970. On relocating to Australia in 1987 he became Principal of the Music School at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and conducted all the orchestras there and in and around Brisbane as well as being Senior Lecturer in Timpani. In 1998 he moved to Hong Kong where he was Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion as well as Resident Conductor at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, conducting many concerts and opera productions there as well as continuing to teach timpani.
The number of his students now in orchestral jobs around the world bears testimony to his qualities as a teacher. In London alone these include John Chimes (recently retired Principal Timpanist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra), Andrew Smith (recently retired Principal Timpanist of the Philharmonia Orchestra), LPO players Andrew Barclay and Simon Carrington as well as former LPO timpanist Russell Jordan (now at the Royal Opera House) and the London Symphony Orchestra's Nigel Thomas (formerly in the LPO), Neil Percy and Antoine Bedewi and LPO regular guest Jeremy Cornes.
Alan was on the Board of Directors of the LPO for 9 years, alongside his great friend and colleague Keith Millar, present-day stalwart of the Orchestra's percussion section.
Aside from Alan’s playing and teaching careers he was a colourful character with a devastatingly well-observed sense of humour, the nature of which bred many stories that are still being retold to this day, all over the world.
Alan was a true lover of music who inspired the same in his students and colleagues. He was a man of great warmth and an icon within the profession who will be missed immeasurably by all those privileged to have known him.
Rest in peace Alan, from your friends and LPO colleagues, Keith, Simon and Andy.