David Evan Thomas


Born: July 24, 1958; Rochester, NY  
David Evan Thomas is one of the more prominent American composers of the latter twentieth and early twenty first centuries. He has produced a large output of nearly 100 works, among which are songs; choral, orchestral, and chamber compositions; as well as piano, organ, and harpsichord pieces; and music for church services. His teachers in composition have included Dominick Argento, Alan Stout, and Samuel Adler. He studied trumpet with Vincent Read more Cichowicz and piano with New Zealand pianist Stephanie Wendt. Thomas' works are tonal and quite approachable for most listeners.

Thomas was born the fourth of five children. His father was a talented musician and faculty member at the Eastman School of Music, where he taught flute for more than 40 years. Not surprisingly, that instrument appeared in many of his son's chamber compositions. Young David showed talent at an early age and studied music at the Eastman Preparatory Department in his teen years. He graduated with honors in trumpet at E.P.D. and went on to Northwestern University, where, as a singer in a chapel choir, he began to write music for religious services. Some of his earliest works include the Carol Suite (1978) and Pastorale (1979), both for flute and organ, and both composed for church services. His first vocal efforts also began to appear around this time: Infant Song (On the Morning of Christ's Nativity), for tenor and organ on texts by Milton, and Evensong, for chorus and chamber ensemble, both date to 1980. Thomas returned to the Eastman School of Music for post-graduate studies. After receiving a master's degree, he accepted a position on the faculty at the University of Montana, Billings, in 1982. By this time, he was composing larger works, such as his 1983 Concerto for Oboe -- which would have to wait seven years, however, for its successful New York premiere (with Cynthia Green, soloist, and Jorge Mester, conductor) -- and Orchestra and Waterways: A Rochester Triptych (1986), for flute, cello, and string orchestra, written on commission from the Rochester Chamber Orchestra. In 1989, Thomas left his Montana University post and joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota, where he taught composition and orchestration and later earned a doctorate (1996). It was there that he also worked as an assistant to composer Dominick Argento. In 1994, Thomas composed his first opera, The Lass of Galway, based on James Joyce's The Dead. He attracted many commissions in the 1990s, including ones from the Minnesota Orchestra (Elegy for a Singer, 1997) and the American Composer's Forum (White Bear Arabesque, for piano, 1997). Thomas relocated to St. Paul, MN, in 1998, a move that accounted for a major chamber work, Greetings and a Farewell (1997), for violin and piano. His song collection includes Blessings: Five Poems of James Wright (2000), for tenor and piano; Guitar Quartet; and String Quartet No. 2 "North of Spring," the latter two having premiered in 2002. Read less

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