The music of DAVID EVAN THOMAS has been praised for its eloquence, power, and craft. Critics note Thomas’s loving ties to tradition, made evident in clear forms, smart instrumental writing and skillful orchestration. Audiences respond to the music’s warmth, lyricism and sense of play.
The recipient of two McKnight Foundation Fellowships, a Citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Möller-A.G.O. Award in Choral Composition, Thomas has received commissions from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Schubert Club, the American Composers Forum and the American Guild of Organists.
David Evan Thomas’s catalogue includes music for orchestra and wind ensemble, forty chamber works, keyboard pieces large and small, and an opera. Vocal music is prominent, with twelve song cycles — on subjects ranging from medieval women troubadours to the comic lyrics of Wendy Cope and baseball writings of Donald Hall — and fifty choral works.
Thomas’s orchestral music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, National Orchestral Association, Rochester Chamber Orchestra and Long Island Philharmonic, and conducted by Jorge Mester, Eiji Oue, Gian-Carlo Guerrero, David Wiley, Mallory Thompson and John P. Paynter. His choral works have been sung by London’s Westminster Cathedral Choir, Kantorei, the Minnesota Chorale, the National Lutheran Choir and the Rose Ensemble. Thomas chamber works have been played by the trio of Gil Shaham, Truls Mørk and Yefim Bronfman, the Minneapolis and Rosalyra String Quartets, the Debussy Trio, the California E.A.R. Unit, Zeitgeist and many beloved solo performers: singers Karen Clift, Laura Hynes, Maria Jette, Patricia Kent, Vern Sutton and Lawrence Weller; pianists Lydia Artymiw, John Churchwell, Margo Garrett, Timothy Lovelace and Shannon Wettstein; organists James Biery and Marilyn Biery; and instrumentalists David Baldwin, Burt Hara, Erin Keefe and Jeffrey Van. Among recent projects: The Bridge, composed for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony’s 2014 tour of Spain and The First Apostle, an oratorio premiered in Houston in 2012.
Born in Rochester, NY in 1958, David Evan Thomas grew up in a musical family, the son of flutist John Thomas. He attended the Eastman “Prep” Department, graduating with Honors in Trumpet and playing in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, he studied trumpet, composition, and conducting and sang in the Alice Millar Chapel Choir. As a master’s degree student at Eastman he was awarded the Director’s Fellowship; he then taught in the 1980s at Montana State University-Billings, playing principal trumpet in the Billings Symphony. Thomas was Dominick Argento’s assistant at the University of Minnesota, where he also taught composition and orchestration, receiving the Ph.D. in 1996.
As the composer-in-residence for the Schubert Club from 1997-2005, Thomas became a familiar face in the Twin Cities arts community. During that time, he also served residencies at Westminster Presbyterian Church (Minneapolis) and the Cathedral of Saint Paul through the American Composers Forum Faith Partners Program, and at Saint Paul Academy. Thomas is the program annotator for The Schubert Club, writing about chamber and recital music. He has also written program notes for the Minnesota Orchestra, VocalEssence and Brevard Festival, and has presented pre-concert “Fanfares” for Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts. Thomas lives in Minneapolis, where he makes music as a pianist and choral singer.