Tom Vissgren

Timpani Principal

− Becoming a musician was not really a decision. Like so many musicians in my category, it started with drum sets, pop, rock and not least, jazz. Classical percussion only came my way when I was around eighteen. After that it was a natural path to follow.

Tom Vissgren

Tom Vissgren was born in Oslo and grew up in Tønsberg. He was spared from thinking long and hard about his choice of profession:

− Becoming a musician was not really a decision. Like so many musicians in my category, it started with drum sets, pop, rock and not least, jazz. For a period I was part of running a jazz club in Tønsberg. Classical percussion only came my way when I was around eighteen. After that it was a natural path to follow.

Tom later studied at Norges Musikkhøgskole, and received important impulses from great performers.

− Private studies with former New York Philharmonic timpanist Roland Kohloff was a crucial period for me. Other musical heroes were also important; two musicians that are hard to avoid, are the drummer Elvin Jones in John Coltrane Quartet and the pianist Emil Gilels.

Wants to pass on knowledge and experience

Tom has been a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic and other orchestras several times. After a 25-year long career as Principal timpani player in the Bergen Philharmonic, and an equal length of time as a teacher at the Grieg Academy, he started as Principal timpani player in the Oslo Philharmonic in 2008, and at the same time returned as a teacher to his place of study.

− My greatest experiences with the orchestra so far have been playing Mahler, Sibelius and not least, Schoenberg’s Pelleas and Melisande with Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting. The greatest pleasure I have in my work as a musician, must be the knowledge of being linked with an orchestra like the Oslo Philharmonic, as well as passing knowledge and experience on to my students at Norges Musikkhøgskole.

The timpanist’s best advice for a good concert experience is to be free from prejudice − as far as that is possible. Outside the concert hall he often listens to jazz, but has started to increasingly appreciate silence. When he isn’t playing, he cultivates his interest in film:

− I have a decent collection of good vintage films and art films.