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Meet Our Musicians: Jauvon Gilliam
Posted by Karyn Garvin

Jauvon Gilliam is Principal Timpani of the National Symphony Orchestra

Jauvon Gilliam has had a whirlwind week at the NSO! After winning Principal Timpani in August, his debut performances last week under Music Director Designate Christoph Eschenbach have garnered lots of attention. In the midst of all the excitement, Jauvon was happy to take the time to sit down and give us a more personal glimpse behind the mallets:

Any nicknames?

Jay Gee


What type of instrument do you play (make/model/brand/year)?

American Drum Company Mark XI's made in 1976 (they're older than me!)



Where did you study?

Undergraduate degree in Arts Administration at Butler University, started my Masters at the Cleveland Institute of Music


Where were you before joining the NSO?

7.5 years playing with the Winnipeg Symphony in Canada.


Tell us about your audition experience.

104 hours of driving in a minivan stuffed with timpani to come to DC (26 hours one way and I had to come twice)...but it paid off! So, my experience was great!


What was your audition with the NSO like? How did it differ from previous auditions you have taken?

I felt more prepared for this audition than I ever have. There was some extra motivation this time around, and that was the extra push I needed to get up early and stay up late to practice. I've always fared fairly well in auditions, but on August 5, 2009, everything fell into place at the right time.


What was the first thing that went through your mind when you found out you had been hired?

"Dude, be cool...don't get too excited...shake the other guys' hands." As soon as I got out of the green room with the committee, I went into the lobby of the KC, did a little jiggy dance and then let out a big sigh!


Favorite piece to play:

The one I'm doing at any particular moment.


Favorite piece to listen to:

Ravel Piano Concerto


Name your top five favorite tunes on your mp3 player:

Hillsong - Saviour King

Earth, Wind and Fire - Fantasy

Mos Def - Quiet Dog

Michael Jackson - Speed Demon (not many people knew about this sleeper jam!)

Yo-Yo Ma - Bach Cello Suites


What concert are you most looking forward to this season?

Scheherazade/Rite of Spring



What was the last concert you attended that you weren't playing?

The week before I started with the NSO...Symphonia domestica with Frühbeck de Burgos


What did you want to be growing up (besides a member of the NSO!)?

I never really thought about it until I was in college. I was involved in so many things (piano, drums, basketball, swimming, track, cross country) I really didn't have time to think about it!


What is your favorite thing about moving to/living in DC?

ESPN!!!! (They didn't have it in Canada)


When not working, you can find me:

At the gym, enjoying the DC museums and sights, and making the most of this wonderful opportunity.


Favorite movie:

Coming to America


Last movie you saw:

This Is It


Would you recommend it?



Favorite sports team:




Where do like to go to think / not to think?

On a walk...


What sound do you love?

Personnel Manager: "Congratulations, we'd like to offer you the position!"


What sound do you hate?

Conductor: "Timpani, you're late."


What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

Soul food chef.


What profession would you not like to do?

Realtor. Had a bad experience with one, so I'll go with that.




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