Al Payson has been a percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1958. He received his BA in Music fro the University of Illinois in 1956. After graduating, he performed for one season with the Louisville Orchestra, then one season with the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra before being invited to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by then-music director Fritz Reiner.
Always interested in music education, Mr. Payson taught at the college level for twenty-five years, first at De Paul University and then at Northwestern. He has authored several percussion textbooks and is a clinician for Ludwig Industries.
In addition, he has been responsible for many innovations in the filed of percussion instruments. These include the Roto-toms, which, manufactured by Remo, Inc. are used world-wide in all areas of music. Another innovation is the use of tubular aluminum shafts for timpani mallets.
Mr. Payson has a small business that produces timpani mallets, bass drum beaters and gong beaters of his own design.