Timpanist Jason Haaheim on Interpretation

Interpretation is tricky. Just as singers develop interpretations of their characters, and conductors of the score as a whole, instrumentalists within the orchestra must decide how to play their individual parts. But, given that conductors ask instrumentalists to play their parts a certain way, how does an instrumentalist’s interpretation of the score fit with a conductor’s interpretation? How much of a say does the instrumentalist have in how the music ends up being played?