Michael Combs is Associate Principal Timpanist of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He joined the KSO in the fall of 1968 under Maestro David VanVactor and has served as principal timpanist under all KSO conductors and guest conductors for over five
He performed three times as soloist with the KSO Chamber Orchestra, performed with the percussion section in two major percussion concertos, and was featured on numerous occasions during his lengthy career with the KSO.
Michael served as an orchestra representative to the KSO Board and as a member of the KSO conductor search committee. He is currently a member of the Bertha Walburn Clark Society.
Until his recent retirement, Michael was Professor of Percussion at the University of Tennessee and many of his students have moved on to become major performers and educators in Tennessee and around the country. He served a term as President of the UT Faculty Senate and his book on percussion is a standard text in many colleges. Several publishing companies carry his compositions and his articles and reviews have appeared in numerous professional journals.
Michael Combs is a member of the Leadership Knoxville class of 1998 and has served on the LK Board of Directors. He is the founding President of the Joy of Music School Board – a program that provides free music instruction for disadvantaged children. He has served as a Director on the Boards of the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, James White’s Fort, and as a Commissioner on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission. He currently serves as a Director on the Boards of Knox Heritage and the Joy of Music School.
In the very early days of the formation of the KSO Youth Orchestra, Michael worked with the original conductors to help develop that program and served as a coach for the wind and percussion sections. Today, his grandchildren are actively involved with music and have participated in KSO youth orchestra and public school music programs.
Michael often gives special percussion demonstrations for area school children and gives regular tours of the East Tennessee History Museum to young school groups.
His special recognitions include the Tennessee Arts Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Resolution of Commendation, The Tennessee Music Education Association Lifetime Achievement award, and Phi Eta Sigma award for excellence in teaching.
* Member of the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra