American-born timpanist and percussionist Laurence Reese is a graduate of The Juilliard School in New York and The Royal College of Music in London. He has been the Section Principal Timpanist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 1998.
Laurence has performed in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia as principal timpanist with such ensembles such as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Washington Chamber Symphony, The Hallé Orchestra, The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, The Israel Philharmonic, The Philly Pops Orchestra, and The London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has played under such esteemed conductors as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Leonard Bernstein, Osmo Vanska, Eric Leinsdorf, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, Vasily Petrenko and David Zinman, to name a few.
During his tenure in the NZSO, Laurence has played on over 60 commercial recordings on the Sony, Rattle, Naxos, and EMI labels, with total sales of over one million records. The NZSO earned their first Grammy nomination for best orchestral performance in 2015 for a recording of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Zhou Long's Symphony 'Humen 1839'.
During Laurence's time, the NZSO has also recorded the musical soundtrack o over 20 feature films, including the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring, The Lovely Bones, and the final two Hobbit films.
In 2007 Laurence gave the world premiere of John Psathas' concerto for timpani and orchestra, Planet Damnation in five performances around New Zealand. Laurence is on the faculty of The Victoria University of Wellington's New Zealand School of Music, and the University of Auckland's Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and the current president of the New Zealand chapter of Percussive Arts Society.