Wade Culbreath studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He is principal timpani and percussion with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, principal percussion with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and timpanist with the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra.
He has freelanced as timpanist and percussionist with the Los Angeles Opera, Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theater and the National Ballet of Canada. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he participated in two European tours and in eight recordings on the Sony Classical and Deutsche Grammaphon labels. These include Salonen’s LA Variations, Adams’ Naive and Sentimental Music, Debussy’s Images, and live recordings of Reich’s Three Movements and Tehillim at Disney Hall.
With the LA Phil New Music Group, he performed Boulez’s Eclat, Dérive 2 and Pli Selon Pli, and the world premiere of Salonen’s Catch and Release under the direction of the respective composers. He appears on two Steve Reich Nonesuch recordings, You Are (Variations) and Daniel Variations with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Wade has played on nearly 400 soundtracks for the motion picture studios including the Academy Award-winning scores for Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Life of Pi. More recently, he was principal percussion for Frozen, Godzilla, Transformers, timpanist for A Million Ways to Die in the West.