Joshua Tree Philharmonic acquires and restores world-class timpani drums in time for concerts next weekend

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JOSHUA TREE, CA – As the Joshua Tree Philharmonic (JPHIL) continues their final stretch of rehearsals prior to their end-of-season concerts this May 16th through 19th, there will be a new addition to this pioneering inter-generational community orchestra — a complete set of five world-class Ludwig hammered copper orchestral timpani drums.  And there is quite a story behind them.

Many of our members are either in or retired from the armed forces, and the Joshua Tree Philharmonic has always had close ties to the Marine Corps Band in Twentynine Palms. When the band dis-banded due to budget cuts, our connections were keeping a close watch to see what would become of their instruments. We didn’t hear anything and then one day in the excess property auction list there was simply written ‘copper metal drums’ under the metal recycling heading.Jarrod Radnich, Maestro & Founder of the JPHIL

Members of the orchestra went to the scrap yard and were both thrilled and surprised at what they saw — a complete set of five Ludwig world-class hammered copper timpani drums.  The set, valued at around $20,000 new and purportedly only a couple years old, had suffered broken heads, broken tuning gauges, a broken stand, and two broken pedals, and they were being sold as scrap simply for their valuable copper.  Using funds raised by the JPHIL’s prior concerts that had been set aside for capital investment, the JPHIL bid on each of the percussion instruments.  Interestingly, the JPHIL bid on them twice.

An unnamed individual had offered to bid for us, and we gave him our bid. But then later when his story wasn’t adding up and we thought he might have submitted a lower bid in order to pocket the difference, we had a JPHIL member put in a backup bid at a lesser amount than the bid we gave him just in case, and, sure enough, we ended up winning with our backup ‘lower’ bid by a substantial margin.Jarrod Radnich, Maestro & Founder of the JPHIL

Intrigued and heart-wrenched at the story, Ludwig-Musser, a Conn-Selmer company, and their dealer, Nick Rail Music, were incredibly generous in helping get the needed replacement parts for the JPHIL at a reduced rate.  With donations from JPHIL concert goers and Charlie and Bonnie Schwartz, and with the meticulous restoration help of former Marine Corps Band member, John Skaggs, the Joshua Tree Philharmonic now has a perfect set of world-class timpani drums.

The new timpani will be highlighted in the JPHIL’s end-of-season concert series entitled, “JPHIL’s History of the World” which will feature varied selections including music from Star Wars, Titanic, Wagner, Copland, Strauss’ 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, Some Nights and more.  Evening performances begin at 7:00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 16th – 18th.  A matinee performance will begin at 2:00 pm, Sunday May 19th.  All concerts will be held at the Hi-Desert Cultural Center’s Blak Box Theater located in the Palmer Performance Hall at 61231 29 Palms Highway in Joshua Tree.  Tickets are $15 for general seating and $20 for elite seating.  While this is a family event, children must be at least 5 years of age to attend.  To purchase tickets call 760.366.3777 or go online to  Tickets are available at the door if space permits.

PHOTO CAPTION FROM LEFT: Percussionists Ethan Banas and Joshua Tree Philharmonic founding member Justin Dilling are poised to play as members of the orchestra show-off their new complete set of five world-class Ludwig hammered copper timpani drums.  The Philharmonic will be performing this May 16th-19th, 2013.

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GREAT NEWS FOR SEASON PACKAGE TICKET HOLDERS! Should your schedule change and you find yourself needing to attend a performance on a different date — if you give the Box Office at least 48 hours notice prior to your ticketed performance, management will attempt to exchange your ticket for a different performance of the same show!