David Evan Thomas
Location: Minnesota, USA
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 an Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two McKnight Foundation Fellowships (2013, 1992) 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. He has twice been a resident artist at both Wyoming’s Ucross and Brush Creek Arts Foundations.
David Evan Thomas’s varied catalogue includes music for orchestra and wind ensemble, forty chamber works, keyboard pieces large and small, an opera and an oratorio. Vocal music is particularly prominent, with a dozen song cycles—on subjects ranging from medieval women troubadours to baseball writings of Donald Hall—and over fifty choral works. Thomas’s music is published by Augsburg Fortress, ALRY, ECS, Falls House, Fatrock Ink, Jeanné, MorningStar, Classical Vocal Reprints and Yelton-Rhodes, and recorded on Innova, Ten Thousand Lakes and CRI. Thomas is a B.M.I. affiliate.
Thomas’s orchestral music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, National Orchestral Association, Rochester Chamber Orchestra and Long Island Philharmonic, conducted by Gian-Carlo Guerrero, Jorge Mester, Eiji Oue, Mark Russell Smith and David Wiley. His choral works have been sung by London’s Westminster Cathedral Choir, the Minnesota Chorale, the National Lutheran Choir, Kantorei 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 Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, the California E.A.R. Unit, the Debussy Trio, the Chicago Ensemble, Zeitgeist and many beloved solo performers: singers Karen Clift, Maria Jette, Patricia Kent, Lawrence Weller and Vern Sutton; pianists Lydia Artymiw, John Churchwell, Margo Garrett, Timothy Lovelace and Shannon Wettstein; organists James Biery and Marilyn Biery, and instrumentalists David Baldwin, Burt Hara and Jeffrey Van. Among recent projects: a work 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, New York in 1958, David Evan Thomas grew up as the fourth of five children in a musical family. David attended Penfield High School and the Eastman “Prep” Department, graduating with Honors in Trumpet. During this time he received encouragement as a composer from David Russell Williams. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, he studied trumpet, composition and conducting and sang in the Alice Millar Chapel Choir under Grigg Fountain’s direction. As a master’s degree student at Eastman he was awarded the Director's Fellowship; he then taught through the 1980s at Montana State University-Billings. Thomas served as Dominick Argento’s assistant at the University of Minnesota, where he also taught composition and orchestration, receiving the Ph.D. in 1996. Thomas’s teachers have included composers Dominick Argento, Samuel Adler, Robert Morris and Alan Stout, and trumpeter Vincent Cichowicz. He studied further with David Diamond at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and at the Aspen Festival.
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 program annotator for the Schubert Club. His notes have also appeared in program books for the Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Carnegie Hall and the Brevard Festival. Thomas lives in Minneapolis, where he is also active as a pianist and choral singer.