Tom O'Kelly, PERCUSSION/TIMPANI

While studying with Barry Quinn at the VCA and freelancing in Melbourne with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), ABC Showband and performing on various film and television recordings, Tom was appointed Principal Percussionist with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in 1981.In 1983 Tom was invited to study with Sylvio Gualda (solo timpanist, Paris Opera) at the Nationale Conservatoire de Versailles and in May 1985 was awarded Premier Prix de Percussion. During his time in France Tom worked with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporin, Percussion Ensemble de Aix En Provence under the direction of Sylvio Gualda and Iannis Xenakis, which toured Europe playing music of Xenakis as well as various chamber and solo concerts.

On returning to Australia Tom was reappointed Principal Percussion with the TSO and later Principal Timpanist. In July 1989 he was invited by the then chief conductor Maestro Hiroyuki Iwaki to join Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (OEK). Japans’ first professional chamber Orchestra as Principal Timpanist.

In Japan Tom performed as soloist with OEK and also with the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kyushu and Kansai Symphony Orchestras. He recorded a solo CD at the invitation of JVC Victor, was a guest soloist at the opening of Izumi Hall Osaka, soloist on two Australian tours with OEK and had two concertos written for him and premiered at Suntory Hall Tokyo (both World Premieres). He toured Europe and Asia extensively with OEK and performed masterclasses and solo recitals throughout Japan. While in Japan he was also invited as guest Principal Timpanist with the Yomuri, Tokyo City, Osaka Symphony and other Japanese Orchestras as well as the Melbourne Symphony Australia and Orchestra Nationale de Bordeaux, France. The percussion concertos by Milhaud and Jolivet were recorded live in Japan in 2004 and were released in May 2005 by Warner Classics.

In 2002, Tom established Just Percussion. JP has since become Queensland’s leading drum and percussion instrument supplier. Tom oversees the JP Music School with a roster of the city’s leading players teaching at JP.

Tom is currently teaching at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music along with touring nationally and internationally as soloist, orchestral and chamber player.