Born in Orléans (France), Antoine started playing percussion at the age of six. After his move to Brussels in 2009, and following his encounter with the extraordinary musicians of Spira mirabilis, a European project based in Italy, he decided to shift his focus to timpani and its role in orchestral repertoire, which in turn altered his entire approach to music and to life in general.
The timpani are the most “singular” instrument of the orchestra, according to Antoine, with no one school of playing to draw from. However, his not-so-secret recipes to timpani playing were widely influenced by the great artists he had the chance to meet during his studies, which include Jean-Claude Gengembre, Marie-Ange Petit, Jean-Marc Cochereau, Gert François, Bart Quartier, Koenraad Hofman, Shirly Laub, Hélène and Francis Brana, Jean-Baptiste Couturier, and Marc Marchetti, to name a few.
Appointed principal timpani of the Flanders Symphony Orchestra at the age of 26, he developed an active freelance career on the side, touring worldwide as guest principal timpani with multiple ensembles and orchestras such as l’Orchestre des Champs Élysées, the Pygmalion ensemble, l’Orchestre de Paris, Aurora Orchestra, Europa Galante & Fabio Biondi, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Gabrieli Consort and Players, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, le Cercle de l’Harmonie, and most recently l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
He currently plays percussion in Oxalys, a critically-acclaimed chamber music group based in Brussels, and joined the Philharmonia Orchestra as principal timpani in October 2016.
When not playing the timpani, Antoine is a keen bike enthusiast. “Timpani playing and cycling have a lot in common, they’re all about timing, pace, tempo, and balance management,” he says. Having cycled a good 1,600 miles across half of the United States in 2014 with a quartet of great but slightly crazy friends, he is currently seeking to form a new daredevil team to cover the remaining half.
The Principal Timpani Chair is endowed by Max Mesny and Ramzi Rafih