John Tafoya serves as chairman of the percussion department and is professor of percussion at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. From 1999-2007 he served as principal timpanist for the National Symphony Orchestra and has held previous principal timpani positions with the American Wind Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony (KY), the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra (IN) and the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Tafoya has also performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
John Tafoya earned BM and MM degrees in percussion performance from Indiana University. While at I.U., Tafoya was the recipient of the prestigious performer’s certificate, first prize winner of the 1985 National Society of Arts and Letters competition, and performed as solo timpanist with the Indiana University Orchestra. Mr. Tafoya’s percussion teachers at Indiana University were George Gaber and Gerald Carlyss.
An active educator and sought after clinician, Mr. Tafoya has presented numerous master classes and clinics at universities across the United States. He has also been a featured clinician at the Virginia/D.C. Percussive Arts Society’s Day of Percussion and at PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) 2002, 2006, and 2011. He has published articles for The Band Director’s Guide, the Texas Bandmasters Association, the Florida Percussive Arts Society Newsletter and Percussive Notes magazine. His informative and educational web site, www.johntafoya.com, is accessed by thousands of percussion students and professional players each month. Mr. Tafoya has served on the music department faculties at the University of Evansville, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Florida International University, and the University of Maryland.
In May 2004, Carl Fischer publications released Mr. Tafoya’s first book entitled; “The Working Timpanist’s Survival Guide”; offering practical advice on how to prepare and perform orchestral timpani excerpts. The book also includes illustrations displaying various timpani technique and a CD-ROM containing complete timpani parts that can be printed out for further study. His second book, “Beyond The Audition Screen”, was released in 2011 and is available through Hal Leonard.
Mr. Tafoya can be heard on the 1987 Summit Brass compact disc release: “All American Brass” on the Pro Arte label and on the 1992 Arkay compact disc release of William Albright’s “Music for Organ and Harpsichord” featuring organist Douglas Reed. He performed in the award-winning Florida Philharmonic Orchestra recording of Mahler’s First Symphony under the direction of James Judd. Tafoya has also performed in orchestral recordings by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop and in recordings by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. He can also be heard on the recently released American Wind Symphony Orchestra compact disc: “Concertos All And Sundry”, performing Kaoru Wada’s Concertante for Timpani, Percussion and Winds under the direction of Robert Austin Boudreau.
Tafoya has worked under many prestigious conductors including: Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, James Conlon, Jiri Belohlavek, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Valery Gergiev, Christopher Hogwood, Carlos Kalmar, Andrew Litton, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Osmo Vanska, John Williams, Hugh Wolff, and David Zinman.
John Tafoya performs as principal timpanist for the Arizona MusicFest. He has also recently performed as substitute Principal Timpanist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (2012-13 season) and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (2013-14 season).