John Chimes was born in London and studied at the Royal College of Music. In 1975 he was appointed by Pierre Boulez to the post of timpanist in the BBC Symphony Orchestra - a position from which he retired in September 2014 after 39 years of distinguished service. In addition to his work in the standard and contemporary repertoire as principal timpanist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he has always had a keen interest in performance on period instruments.
Drawing on his large collection of timpani from every period in the history of the instrument he has performed and recorded for all of London's orchestras. In particular he enjoyed many years as timpanist of L'Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique and The English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, with whom he took part in many recordings including the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Schumann. He has also enjoyed long-term collaborations with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and performed on many film scores.
The Chamber Orchestra of Europe performs on timpani made by the Wiener Pauken Werkstaat - www.pauken.at
The Principal Timpani Chair is supported by The American Friends.