“Just tap the timpani and you get a deep, resonant boom that seems to come from the earth itself,” writes Mary Kunz Goldman in Wednesday’s (6/10) Buffalo News. “The first time Jesse Kregal heard that sound, he was thunderstruck. … His position as principal timpanist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has made him one of our town’s most recognizable figures. Poised over his drums on the Kleinhans stage since 1970, Kregal anchors the orchestra with his sound and presence. … Kregal is stepping down at the end of this season as principal timpanist of the Philharmonic. Two other distinguished musicians are also retiring: violinist Clementina Fleshler and French horn player Milton Kicklighter. ‘These are big shoes to fill,’ BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta says of all three. … Before coming to Buffalo, Kregal played with the National Symphony and, for two years, with the Toronto Symphony.” Asked to recall high points in his career with the Philharmonic, Kregal mentions that one “emotional moment came when Jessye Norman sang Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony. ‘Half the orchestra came to tears when she walked out and opened her mouth.’ This weekend, Kregal will go out in glory, playing the rich timpani part in that same Mahler symphony.”

Posted June 11, 2009