top of page

Richard Kvistad

Principal Percussion & Associate Timpani

Rick Kvistad has been a percussionist with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra for over 40 years. Before that he was in the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Rick received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and his Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois.


Rick enjoys playing the music of India and Indonesia as well as American jazz. He has performed in various new music ensembles, often combining elements of jazz and classical music. In addition, he has composed many works for timpani and percussion and has recorded for film and various other media.


Career highlights include performing with many amazing soloists in the classical world as well as jazz. A very special performance was with Ella Fitzgerald during the Pittsburgh Pops’ summer season. Rick assisted with a malfunctioning sound system followed by a personal backstage “thank you” visit from Ella. Another special moment was an appearance in 1971 on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood demonstrating the kettledrums.


Rick's hobbies include photography and playing songs from the American Songbook on the piano. Recently, his primary interest has been visiting his daughters and granddaughters in Austin and New Orleans. Still going strong, Rick can’t yet think of a reason to retire.

bottom of page