Composition Department Chair
David Thomas has been teaching at UArts for 22 years. He is the head of both the Composition and Music Theory departments.
David Thomas became interested in music composition in high school, when he had an inspiring piano teacher who exposed him to the sounds of jazz harmony. He earned a Master’s in Composition from the Peabody IInstitute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and later studied privately with legendary composer Lukas Foss. Thomas likes to use ideas from jazz in his classical pieces and vice versa, and he loves exploring and analyzing music to find new ways of pushing sounds around.
Thomas has been commissioned to compose music for many ensembles and choruses around the world, both in the jazz and classical genres, and is active as a pianist.
He also has a YouTube channel of music composition and theory analysis videos.
Thomas’ original music has been released on more than 10 recordings, in both the jazz and classical genres, including in performances by the rarescale ensemble, London; the Gregg Smith Singers, New York; and performances with jazz giants Joel Frahm and Vic Juris.
His other recent projects include a newly commissioned choral piece performed by the Salt Lake Vocal Artists at the World Choral Symposium, Barcelona, Spain, and a week-long residency with the Naked Voices chorus in Jerusalem.
The press has called Thomas’ music
“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).