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September 19, 2012

Obituary of longtime Baltimore Symphony timpanist Dennis Kain

My colleague, Fred Rasmussen, has written the obituary for Dennis Kain, the much-loved timpanist who was a member of the Baltimore Symphony for 46 years. Colleagues in the orchestra, and on the podium, speak eloquently of Mr. Kain's contributions.

The BSO will hold a memorial service at 2 p.m. Thursday at Meyerhoff Hall.

On Wednesday, the BSO issued a statement mourning the loss of Mr. Kain and providing these comments from BSO members:

David Coombs, Contrabassoon:

Dennis was one of the nicest guys that you can imagine. He was the best timpanist I ever heard in my life. He lived for music. He would go home and listen to music all night, except when he was going to baseball games. He was into minor league baseball games. He always had a smile on his face.

Laura Sokoloff, Piccolo:

In the more than 40 years I worked with Dennis, I can count on my fingers the times any conductor asked him to play something differently. That is how excellent and professional he was—always prepared with a complete understanding of how he needed to play and why. Our greatest luxury was relying on his perfect sense of rhythm for all these years. Dennis was always a vital part of the ‘Baltimore Symphony sound’!

Christopher Williams, Principal Percussion:

He knew the music, his own part and how everything was supposed to fit together. His sound on timpani always blended with whatever music we were playing, yet when he had to he could be a very dynamic player who could lead the entire orchestra. His model of consistency at such a high level always amazed me—day to day, year to year. He was the consummate professional and musician we all strive to be.

Christopher Wolfe, Assistant Principal Clarinet:

Dennis was the consummate symphonic musician. His commitment and dedication to the orchestra were unsurpassed for almost fifty years. His timpani playing on many of the BSO recordings have become the benchmark for excellence and are sought after by many musicians around the country. He was admired by everyone and will be sorely missed by all.

Posted by Tim Smith at 4:44 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: BSO, Clef Notes

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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