Meet Eric Middleton

Reno Phil Percussionist
eric middleton_sized

What year did you join the orchestra?
I won my contract as principal percussionist in 2003. I played as an extra with the Philharmonic a bit in the 1980s and early 1990s when I was primarily playing shows with the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and Harrah’s Reno house orchestras. From 1993 to 1995 I served as timpanist with the Reno Philharmonic, before moving to Austin, Texas, where I earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

How long have you been playing music?
I have been playing music formally since 1970, when I started taking music lessons in fifth grade, although a few years before that I started playing on a friend’s Tony the Tiger drum set that his parents purchased from the Sears catalog.

How did you pick your instrument?
It was the late 1960’s, and I was living in Long Island, New York. I saw a number of garage bands that looked like the Beatles that would set up and play in their driveways. When I saw their drummers I knew that was what I wanted to do

I have been a librarian with the Washoe County Library System for 15 years

When you’re not playing with the Reno Phil, what would we most likely see you doing in your free time?
My free time is split between running the trails of Reno and Lake Tahoe, and practicing my many instruments, including marimba, xylophone, Jazz vibraphone, drum set, Latin percussion, steel drums, guitar, and piano.

What genre of music are you most excited to play?
As far as a favorite genre, I have always been a generalist, not a specialist. I love playing a Philharmonic concert one week, then playing a concert with my Latin Jazz group No Comprende, the next, then maybe a jazz trio gig the next week.

What is your favorite piece of all time to play, and why?
There is no way I could name a favorite piece to play, be it solo or with an ensemble, as there are too many truly wonderful and inspiring pieces.

If you could meet one composer/musician, who would it be and why?
That would be Frank Zappa.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
No favorite vacation spot.

What do you think the audience would find surprising about you?
I was thrown out of high school band.

What about performing live music brings you joy?
The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes after a well executed performance.


Eric Middleton, Reno Phil percussionist, performs a piece for xylophone guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!