• Production still from SERSE
  • french horns
  • choir and orchestra
  • pianist, clarinetist, and violinist
  • violin section of orchestra
  • wind orchestra
  • Jazz Band on stage

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith
Office location:
CY 116


Aaron T. Smith has been active as a freelance percussionist in Southern California since the early 1990s. During that time he has performed with many of the area’s leading orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, L.A. Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, New West Symphony and the Santa Barbara Symphony. He served one year as the principal timpanist of the New Mexico Symphony. When the Los Angeles Philharmonic was without a regular timpanist, Mr. Smith served as a substitute in subscription concerts, family concerts, new music concerts and in performances at the Hollywood Bowl during the 2007-2008 season.

Since 1996, Mr. Smith has served as Principal Timpanist and Percussionist with the Chamber Orchestra of Saint Matthew’s in the Pacific Palisades, where he has performed twice as a concerto soloist. The orchestra regularly commissions new works, and Aaron was pleased to be part of a recording with the orchestra of some of those works which was released in 2013.  

In 2006 Aaron performed with the Los Angeles Master Chorale as part of the “Reich @ 70” celebration at Lincoln Center, honoring composer Steve Reich. In 2007 Aaron was a member of the orchestra performing with the Master Chorale for the world premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Requiem. And in 2010 Mr. Smith was part of the recordings for A Good Understanding, the Master Chorale’s CD of music by Nico Muhly on the Decca label.

Mr. Smith performs in a variety of contemporary ensembles and enjoys working with composers during the creation of new works. In 2007 he gave the world premiere of RIDE for drumset and video projection by Ryan Dorin at the Look & Listen Festival in New York City. Aaron has also given a number of solo recitals throughout Southern California.

In addition to playing the Western, orchestral percussion instruments, Mr. Smith has been a long-time student of the frame drum, specifically the Arabic tambourine known as riq. In 2010 Aaron performed on stage in a solo role for riq in the world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, with the Los Angeles Opera.

In addition to teaching at CSUN, Mr. Smith maintains a private teaching studio in West LA, and serves as a clinician and adjudicator. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles (BA, MFA). His primary teachers were Mitchell Peters, Principal Timpanist (ret.) and Raynor Carroll, Principal Percussionist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied drumset with Michael Packer (Los Angeles Music Academy) and J. D. Blair (Nashville studio and touring musician).