Up next in our our "Meet the Musician" series! Each week we go behind the scenes in an exclusive interview with a member of the orchestra. This week we're featuring Theresa Dimond
"I'm from a large Italian family," Theresa Dimond, principal timpani player of the California Philharmonic declares, "so, like most kids have to play the piano, we played the accordion!" Her father, a life-long educator, though tone-deaf she proclaims, believed in the Mozart Effect long before it was widely acknowledged, and thus had his children study music to develop their focus and cognition. Not only did he have them learn an instrument, but a melody instrument, percussion and piano. So a young Theresa took up oboe as well as the other instruments. Her goal was to study music at the University of Southern California. Multi-faceted Ms. Dimond auditioned for the oboe, piano and percussion departments respectively, and was accepted to all three; however, the only scholarship available was for percussion. And so, Theresa Dimond received her Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral all from USC in percussion.
From there she "cobbled together a career," as she puts it. However, playing principal percussion for the LA Opera Orchestra, the Pasadena Symphony and Pops, the LA Master Chorale, Musi/que and the California Philharmonic, film recording sessions, and musicals at the Pantages as well as teaching on the collegiate level at UCLA, Cerritos College, UC Irvine, Whittier and Pomona is hardly what this writer would call "cobbling". More like actualizing a successful and diverse profession, as Theresa has "tasted all the different flavors of freelance in Los Angeles.
"Ms. Dimond is another veteran of the Cal Phil, having been with Maestro Vener since the Pasadena Pops era. She enjoys the variety in her career as well as in the Cal Phil specifically. "It’s a great organization. I play in this orchestra because I like 'the hang’. “She expresses her appreciation for her colleagues and the socializing before and after concerts, which isn't always the case with ensembles. "It's a great place to work." Since Ms. Dimond has been with the orchestra throughout its history, experiencing it's numerous venues, all of which she enjoyed working in, she expresses her especial gratitude for playing in Disney Hall. "I like the theater in the round aspect," she says of Frank Gehry's acoustic architectural gem. " I can't explain how it is when everyone around you is applauding. It's like an aural hug."
Ms. Dimond lives with her Criminal Defense Attorney husband of 10 years, and their beloved feline and canine family. Though her husband, Jim, is in the legal profession, he is also an electric guitarist for a Jethro Tull tribute band. When the two started dating they both experienced a bit of culture shock at each other's shows; he, by discovering he wouldn't be let back into the concert hall after leaving in the middle of a piece to answer a work text, and she, by noticing that at almost every one of his shows someone in the audience ended up disrobed.
Outside of her musical life, Theresa loves to cook and finds preparing food therapeutic. She also loves travelling and is getting her husband "up to speed" with globe-trotting by going through the alphabet and picking a destination for each consecutive letter. I believe they are currently up to "J". Timpani playing is powerful and Theresa somewhat resembles Wonder Woman beating the drum of the Amazon Warriors. Yet she says it's not so much about strength but about using the body in the physiologically correct way. That, and her good Sicilian genetics. The strongest person she knew was her grandmother, who lived to age 97, and could beat anyone in a bar fight!
Readers may or may not know, that shamefully, a couple of the world's greatest symphonies have excluded women players; the Vienna Philharmonic, as high ranking as it is, waited until 2003 to hire its first female member. With powerful ladies like Theresa Dimond, and all her female colleagues, the California Philharmonic proves to be a true 21st century orchestra, made stronger by its diversity and equality.