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.
Thomas’ works have been performed throughout America and Europe, in a total of twenty-seven countries to date, by groups such as The Gregg Smith Singers, Salt Lake Choral Artists, The Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, rarescale, The New York Treble Singers, Relache, Naked Voices, SCAW, Melomanie, Essex Chamber Music Players, The Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble, Chicago Choral Artists, Dolce Suono, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, Missouri Western State University Chorus, 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, clarinetists Sarah Watts and Sebastian Tozzola, and many others. His recent choral music has been performed twice at The World Choral Symposium, in both Argentina and Spain, and at many festivals, including The Festival of the Hamptons, The Bethlehem Guitar Festival, European Clarinet 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, and recently performed with the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, David Kim. For the 2021-2022 season, Thomas has been named the first composer-in-residence with the new gallery 2B&2C, in NYC, where he will compose an new piece for legendary oboist Matthew Sullivan.
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, Tetractys Publications, and MusicSpoke.
Recent commissions have come from The Salt Lake Choral Artists, 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, 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. He followed this album with, “Headspace” which features the legendary Joel Frahm on saxophone, and a third release, “Deeper Journey,” with the addition of Vic Juris on guitar. Thomas has also released two albums of his jazz hymn arrangements called, “Deep, Deep Love,” and “Faithfulness,” featuring vocalist Paul Jost and trumpeter George Rabbai.
Thomas received degrees from West Chester University and The Peabody Conservatory. His mentor for many years was Lukas Foss, and he also studied with Steve Mackey, Ron Thomas, Jacques Voois, Michael Connell, and Donald Chittum. Thomas also has an active life on Youtube, where his music theory videos and composition videos have millions of views.
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.
David Bennett Thomas (b. 1969) is a prolific composer who has composed music for chamber groups, soloists, and choruses around the world. He is also active performing and recording in the jazz realm. Thomas has received commissions, grants, and awards from organizations to release many albums of both classical and jazz music. Thomas also has an active life on Youtube, where his music theory videos and composition videos have millions of views. He teaches composition, theory, and piano at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. For more information, please visit www.davidbthomas.com
A New Interview with DBT! Click here to read an interview with the Eight Strings and a Whistle ensemble.