David Thomas
Head: Composition Studies
Assistant Professor
M, Peabody Institute
BS, West Chester University of Pennsylvania


David Bennett Thomas is the head of the composition department and the undergraduate core studies department at the University of the Arts, where he teaches theory, composition and piano. He received degrees from West Chester University (B.S.) and the Peabody Conservatory (M.M.). His private teachers include Lukas Foss, Steven Mackey, and Donald Chittum.

As a jazz composer and performer, Thomas has recorded with Joel Frahm, Vic Juris, John Swana, and many others, both in concert and on several CD releases.  Thomas has also performed with violinist David Kim (concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra) in both concert and church music settings, where they performed Thomas' arrangements of hymns and spirituals from his "Deep, Deep Love" CD release.  Thomas performs throughout the Philadelphia area as a freelance jazz pianist, as well as in church music settings.

Thomas has composed concert music in many genres, including chamber music, choral music, and orchestra. His works have been performed extensively throughout America and abroad, by groups such as the Gregg Smith Singers, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, rarescale, Cuillin Sound, Network for New Music, The New York Treble Singers, Relache, Naked Voices (Israel), Melomanie, Chicago Choral Artists, Dolce Suono, Singing City, pianists Matthew Bengtson and Charles Abramovic, soprano Rosalind Rees, cellist Jeffrey Solow, saxophonist Marshall Taylor, the Orchestral Society of Philadelphia, and many others.

Several groups have released CD's containing music composed by Thomas, including The Salt Lake Choral Artists, Cuillin Sound, Dolce Suono, and bass clarinetist Calvin Falwell. His music has also been performed at the Festival of the Hamptons, the Bethlehem Guitar Festival and the New York Flute Club. Thomas has served as composer in residence at the Adirondack Festival of American Music.  He has received grants from the American Composers Forum, the University of the Arts and the Peabody Conservatory to support the recording of several of his compositions, which have been released on Capstone Records, Arizona University Recordings, rarescale records, Vectordisc, and independently. These recordings have been heard on WWFM's "Divertimento" program, WVUD's "Fine Tunings" program, WRTI's "Now Is The Time," as well as WBAR 87.9FM, New York.  His music has been published by Shawnee Press and Tetractys Publications.

Critics have referred to his music as "convincing on both structural and emotional levels ... music that speaks with no pretension" (The Classical Source); "immediately engaging ... playful, soulful, technically dazzling, and often acutely communicative (Philadelphia Music Makers); "honest and completely convincing" (The Daily Local); "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).

Thomas won the Philadelphia Young Composers competition and the Morawetz Award in Composition. He is also the author of "A Conversation with Lukas Foss," which was published in The Journal of the Conductors Guild and subsequently published by Carl Fischer.  He has recently taught masterclasses at ProJazz, in Santiago, Chile.

Listen to some of Thomas' Jazz compositions and arrangements as performed by fellow UArts School of Music faculty members and see his music theory videos created for students in his theory classes through his website and YouTube channel.

Class Schedule, Fall 2016

T,F11:30AM - 12:50PMMusic Theory I
T,F08:30AM - 09:50AMMusic Theory I
T,F10:00AM - 11:20AMMusic Theory I

Contact Info

Office: Merriam Theater 4TH
Tel: 215-717-6342
Fax: 215-545-8056