Name: Jim Dallas
Hometown: Wilmington, DE
At what age did you begin playing your instrument? 9
Who have been your greatest musical influences? I was raised in a musical family. Special credit must be given to my Uncle Joe Stephano. Uncle Joe introduced me to the standard orchestral repertoire by playing "drop the needle" on the LP and having me identify the piece and composer. We started playing this game when I was in second grade. He followed this by introducing me to the stories of the great operas and ballets while the music played at deafening levels in his living room. He would frequently sing and act all of the different roles so as to heighten the drama of the libretto. He did a stunning quartet from Rigeletto and a haunting retelling of Petrouchka. My high school music instructor was Fr. John Spragg, O.S.F.S. He was a great musical theater director and conductor. I learned so much by observing how he coordinated all of the different elements to create spectacular productions. Finally, Michael Bookspan, principal percussion of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was the finest instructor and performer that I had the privilege to work with. Bookspan was the consummate musician and a true gentleman.
Who are your favorite composers? Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Serge Prokofiev, John Williams, Alan Menken and James Pankow.
What career path would you have taken had you not chosen music: Something in aviation: airline pilot or air traffic control.
What's currently playing on your iPod or CD player: Chicago VII.
Your hobbies and interests: I like to travel and spend time with friends and family.
Some little-known, yet interesting facts about you: If I answered this it would no longer be "little-known."
Daily practice rituals: Before I ever touch an instrument I do a 90-minute fitness workout every day. The repeated motions involved in playing percussion wreak havoc on the smaller muscle groups in the body. Without the workout I would be hampered by back, neck, shoulder, arm and wrist pain. Following the workout, my practice session begins. Since there are so many instruments in the percussion family, I try to make sure that I spend a little time with the primary instruments each week.
The question you're asked most often about your instrument (and your answer): "What does percussion music look like?" My answer: "Any part written for one of the melodic percussion instruments – marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, bells, chimes or crotales – is noted just like all of the instruments in the orchestra. The parts would be written in treble or bass clef on the traditional staff of lines and spaces. All of the non-melodic instruments are indicated by the rhythm only. Not only does it not matter what line or space a part is written on, but sometimes the rhythm is notated on a single line with an indication from the composer as to which instrument to play."
Your favorite part about playing in the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra: I treasure getting to work with three great musicians in the percussion section – Laurie Lyons, Craig Benson and Mark Goldberg.