John Tafoya serves as chairman of the percussion department and is professor of percussion at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. From 1999-2007, he served as principal timpanist for the National Symphony Orchestra and has held previous principal timpani positions with the American Wind Symphony, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Owensboro Symphony, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Tafoya has also performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
John Tafoya earned BM and MM degrees in percussion performance from Indiana University. While at I.U., Tafoya was the recipient of the prestigious performer's certificate, first prize winner of the 1985 National Society of Arts and Letters competition, and performed as solo timpanist with the Indiana University Orchestra. Mr. Tafoya's percussion teachers at Indiana University were George Gaber and Gerald Carlyss. Mr. Tafoya has served on the music department faculties at the University of Evansville, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Florida International University, and the University of Maryland.
An active educator and sought after clinician, Mr. Tafoya has presented numerous master classes and clinics at universities across the United States. He has also been a featured clinician at the Virginia/D.C. Percussive Arts Society's Day of Percussion and at PASIC 2002 and 2006 (Percussive Arts Society International Convention). He has published articles for The Band Director's Guide, the Texas Bandmasters Association, the Florida Percussive Arts Society Newsletter and Percussive Notes magazine. In May 2004, Carl Fischer publications released Mr. Tafoya's first book entitled; "The Working Timpanist's Survival Guide."
Mr. Tafoya can be heard on the 1987 Summit Brass CD release: "All American Brass" on the Pro Arte label and on the 1992 Arkay CD release of William Albright's "Music for Organ and Harpsichord." He performed in the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra recording of Mahler's First Symphony under the direction of James Judd. Tafoya has also performed in recordings by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. He recently recorded with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra CD: "Concertos All And Sundry," performing Kaoru Wada's Concertante for Timpani, Percussion and Winds under the direction of Robert Austin Boudreau.
Tafoya has worked with other conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, James Conlon, Jiri Belohlavek, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Valery Gergiev, Christopher Hogwood, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Osmo Vanska, John Williams, Hugh Wolff, and David Zinman.
John Tafoya regularly performs as principal timpanist for the Camerata Orchestra in Bloomington, Indiana and was recently featured in Dan Welcher's Concerto for Timpani with the Camerata on March 29, 2009. He also recently performed as principal timpanist for the Arizona MusicFest's 2009 winter season.