Biography

The music of David Bennett Thomas has been called "immediately engaging ...meticulously structured ... playful, soulful, technically dazzling, and acutely communicative" (Philadelphia Music Makers); "convincing on both structural and emotional levels ... music that speaks with no pretension" (The Classical Source); and "concise and comprehensible, though he doesn't talk down to the listener or subscribe to any isms ... this is a composer with an individual voice" (American Record Guide).  He has written in many genres, including works for chorus, solo voice, orchestra, chamber groups, piano, and jazz ensembles. 

In recent years, Thomas' works have been performed throughout America as well as in Europe, Israel, South America, and China by groups such as The Gregg Smith Singers, The Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, rarescale, The New York Treble Singers, Relache, Naked Voices, SCAW, Melomanie, Salt Lake City Choral Artists, Essex Chamber Music Players, The Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble, Chicago Choral Artists, Dolce Suono, The Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, and Singing City.  Soloists who have performed his works include pianists Charles Abramovic, Matthew Bengtson, and Carl Cranmer, flutists Mimi Stillman and Carla Rees, violinist Laura Frautschi, soprano Rosalind Rees, cellist Jeffrey Solow, saxophonist Marshall Taylor, organist Donald Sutherland, and many others. His music has been featured at several festivals, including The Festival of the Hamptons, The Bethlehem Guitar Festival, and by programs sponsored by The New York Flute Club. Mr. Thomas has served as composer in residence at The Adirondack Festival of American Music.

Thomas has received grants from The American Composers Forum (Subito, Community Partners), The University of the Arts, and The Peabody Conservatory to support the recording of several of his compositions, which have been released on Innova Recordings, Capstone Records, Vectordisc, Arizona University Recordings, rarescale records, as well several independent releases.  Thomas' music has been featured on NPR, WWFM's 'Divertimento' program, WVUD's 'Fine Tunings' program, WRTI's "Now Is The Time", as well as many jazz and NPR stations across the US.  His music has been published by Shawnee Press, and Tetractys Publications.

Recent commissions have come from The New York Treble Singers, The Brandywine Valley Chorale, The Chester County Pops Orchestra, The Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, The Gregg Smith Singers, The Chester County Choral Society, funded by The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, rarescale, SCAW, Dolce Suono, Naked Voices chorus (Israel) and The American Composers Forum "Community Partners" program.

Thomas won the Philadelphia Young Composers competition hosted by The Philadelphia Orchestral Society, and the Morawetz Award in Composition. He is the author of "A Conversation with Lukas Foss", which was published in 'The Journal of the Conductors Guild,' and subsequently published by Carl Fischer.

In addition to his work as a composer, Thomas enjoys a second life as a jazz pianist, working steadily throughout the Philadelphia area jazz clubs and restaurants, including performances at The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, and the Chadds Ford Winery Jazz Festival.  He recently recorded a suite of original jazz compositions inspired by texts from James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," performed by Thomas on piano, with six of Philadelphia's finest jazz musicians: John Swana, Ron Kerber, Kevin Hanson, Micah Jones, Erik Johnson, and Arturo Stable. His new album "Headspace" features the legendary Joel Frahm on saxophone, with John Swana, Matt Davis, Micah Jones, and Erik Johnson.  Thomas has also performed with Larry McKenna, Joe Hunt, Steve Giordano, and many others.

Thomas received degrees from West Chester University, and The Peabody Conservatory. His mentor for many years was Lukas Foss, and he also studied with Steven Mackey, Ron Thomas, Jacques Voois, Michael Connell, and Donald Chittum. 

Thomas is on the faculty at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, where he chairs the composition department, heads the theory department, oversees the undergraduate core curriculum and teaches piano. He has authored his own theory workbook that focuses on both classical and jazz theory, and has also taught masterclasses in Santiago, Chile. 

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La Previa poster 2011

Naked Voices poster

USF Percussion Ensemble, Fall 2012

Michal

Spain Poster

 

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