Mitchell Peters

Mitchell Peters, born Mitchell Thomas Peters on August 17, 1935 in Redwing, Minnesota, was an American percussionist, educator and composer, best known as the principal timpanist and percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1969-2006).

Peters attended the Eastman School of Music, earning a bachelor and master degree as well as a Performer’s Certificate. During his time at Eastman, Mitchell was a member of the original Marimba Masters and appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey shows. He also made numerous recordings with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Upon his graduation in 1958, Peters served as timpanist with the 7th U.S. Army Symphony Orchestra, stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, traveling and performing throughout Europe.

Mitchell Peters joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a percussionist in 1969, later becoming its co-principal percussionist (1973-1982), and retired as its principal timpanist and percussionist in 2006. He performed under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Carlo-Maria Giulini, André Previn, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Sir Simon Rattle, John Williams, Michael Tilson Thomas and numerous others.

Mitchell Peters

Peters also had extensive recording credits with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony, was well as various appearances on motion picture and television soundtracks. His timpani playing can be heard on the opening theme to ABC’s World News Tonight, in the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, and the original Battlestar Galactica.

As an educator and author, Peters began writing his own material for his students and eventually started a publishing company that published over three dozen of his percussion method books and percussion compositions. Some of his most famous percussion literature include Yellow After the Rain, Sea Refractions, and Galactica. His final composition, Firefly, was published in 2015 and dedicated to his three grandchildren.

Shortly after joining the LA Philharmonic, Peters became the applied percussion instructor at California State University Los Angeles and later accepted the position of Professor of Percussion at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition, he was a faculty member at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. He retired from teaching in May of 2012.

Mitchell Peters died on October 28, 2017; he was 82.