Vadim Karpinos: “Always Try to Get Better Even When You’re Good at Something”
Accompanying pianist. Copywriter.
This interview delves into the musical journey of Vadim Karpinos, the assistant principal timpanist and percussionist with the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Karpinos traces his early affinity for percussion, commencing at the age of 3 or 4, using makeshift instruments crafted by his handyman father. His immersion in both popular and classical music, combined with formal education at the Juilliard Pre-College program and Manhattan School of Music, laid the foundation for his exceptional career. The discussion extends to Karpinos’ instrument preferences, elucidating his choice of Ringer timpani and Deagan percussion instruments, as well as a substantial collection of cymbals.
The interview also provides insights into Karpinos’ extensive orchestral experience, spanning beyond the CSO to collaborations with the New York Philharmonic, Grant Park, Steamboat Festival, and Lyric Opera. Karpinos elucidates his multifaceted practice routines and technical exercises, emphasizing the importance of a solid technical foundation for aspiring percussionists. Influenced by luminaries such as Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, and Chris Lamb, Karpinos offers valuable advice to musicians, stressing the need for continual improvement and individual artistic expression.
Beyond his role with the CSO, Karpinos discusses ongoing and potential projects, including solo performances, percussion ensembles, masterclasses, and forays into conducting. A devoted parent, Karpinos elucidates the diverse and dynamic nature of his musical engagements, spanning solo performances, chamber music, teaching, and collaboration with various ensembles.
The interview concludes with Karpinos sharing his eclectic taste in music, encompassing genres from Russian pop to hip hop and classical symphonies by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff. Karpinos also sheds light on the challenging audition process, particularly within the context of the CSO, offering valuable insights for aspiring musicians seeking positions in elite orchestras. Additionally, he generously offers a technical exercise to enhance timpani rolls, contributing a practical resource for percussion enthusiasts.