Samuel Thompson


Samuel Thompson

Praised for his musical intelligence, focus and sensitivity, violinist Samuel Thompson became the subject of international media attention in 2005, being profiled by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as well as in the Boston Globe, Strings Magazine, ArtsJournal, Relevant Magazine and China's Focus on People Weekly for the "presence of mind" he showed by performing in the New Orleans Basketball Arena at the request of a fellow evacuee during Hurricane Katrina, an event resulting in his inability to participate in the 2005 Rodolfo Lipizer International Violin Competition which started two days after Thompson was able to leave the storm-ravaged city.

This has resulted in many firsts for this young artist, including invitations to perform on recital series, at festivals and as soloist with orchestras both in the United States and abroad. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Samuel began studying the violin at the age of nine while a student in the public school system. In 1987 he was admitted to the University of South Carolina and transferred to Oklahoma State University in 1990. Samuel received the Master of Music Degree from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in 1998. Summers were spent at the National Orchestral Institute, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top.

Equally at home as soloist, orchestral musician and chamber musician, Samuel been heard in performances nationwide. The 2005-2006 season has included performances as soloist with the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra and a recital during the i during the first annual South Carolina Mozart Festival, the proceeds from both concerts being directed to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Relief Fund and other hurricane relief organizations. This summer finds Samuel performing at the International Festival of Art and Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut alongside his invitation to attend Thomas Bowes' Langvad Chamber Music Jamboree in Denmark.

As soloist, Samuel performed with the Carolina Amadeus Players Chamber Orchestra during the inaugural season of the Koger Center for the Performing Arts (1989) and made his national debut with Robert Franz and the National Repertory Orchestra in 1998. A semifinalist in the 2000 New World Symphony Concerto Competition (for which he presented the Elgar Violin Concerto), Samuel was also heard in that organization's musician-organized "Musician's Forum". While living in New Orleans, Samuel was noted for the "skill and sensitivity" (Ambush Magazine) displayed during a solo performance in the 2004 Bach Around the Clock Marathon at Trinity Episcopal Church, a venue in which he also appeared as a recitalist. A seasoned chamber musician, Samuel has been heard at both the International Festival-Institute at Round Top and the Texas Music Festival, with the Marian Anderson String Quartet and the Louisiana Philharmonic Chamber Players, and during the inaugural season of the Thursdays at Twilight Garden Concert Series at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Currently performing with the San Antonio Symphony, Samuel has performed with the Mercury Baroque Ensemble; the Houston Grand Opera and Ballet Orchestras; the Augusta, Fort Worth and New World Symphonies; the Oklahoma City and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestras; the Utah Festival Opera Company, Spoleto Festival USA and the Houston Ebony Opera Guild Orchestra. Samuel was also one of the founding members of both Orchestra X and the Eastminster Chamber Orchestra, served as principal second violinist of the American Radio Chamber Orchestra and also served as co-concertmaster of the Houston Chamber Orchestra during its inaugural season. As a member of the New World Symphony he participated in both the Shostakovich and Sibelius Festivals, and in 2005 he played as a member of the Moores School of Music Symphony Orchestra during their recording of composer Peter Liewen's "Living Waters". He has worked under conductors Steven Sloane, Emmanuel Villaume, Larry Rachleff, Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Spano, Larry Rachleff, Christopher Hogwood, Peter Bay, Klauspieter Siebel, Barbara Day Turner, Gerald Steichen, William Anthony Waters, John Axelrod, Alastair Willis, Carlos Miguel Prieto and Christopher Wilkins.

Samuel's longtime interests in dance, theatre, photography, jazz have resulted in numerous invitations to participate in collaborative projects. Interdisciplinary projects include an appearance as the "fiddler in the wings" in a 1994 stage production of The Glass Menagerie and in Pocket Change, an independent film made in Houston, Texas in 1996. In 1999 Samuel opened for the Black Door Dance Ensemble (Colony Theatre, Miami Beach) and has shared the stage with, performance artist Ann Carlson in "Grass/Bird/Rodeo" (DiverseWorks, Houston), pianist/composer Mark Darnell Marquez (The Blue Nile, New Orleans), Philip Manuel (Ogden Museum, New Orleans), conductor Barbara Day Turner (Utah Festival Opera Company, Logan, UT), the Norwegian choir Skrük (New Orleans, LA) and can be heard on the CD "Let's Gather Together" with saxophonist Earle Brown as well as on the first recording by The Western Civilization, a group organized by Houston-based guitarist and recording engineer Reginald Farrell. Samuel is currently working on the second of two articles scheduled to be published in Strings Magazine and has recently been approached by both Gabrielle Pickard, choreographer and founder of New Orleans' Confederacy of Dances, and photographer Charles Kreiner.

Samuel's principal teachers include Dr. John Bauer, Dr. Donald Portnoy, Dr. David Rudge, Kenneth Goldsmith and Raphael Fliegel. Samuel plays on a violin made in 1996 by Marilyn Wallin of Boston, Massachusetts.

"If Nero's fiddling while Rome burned laid bare the emperor's selfishness and lack of compassion for his countrymen, Thompson's violin playing while New Orleans was underwater exemplifies the opposite." - James Horrigan, Boston Globe

"Musicianship from the depths of his soul" - Marilyn Wallin

Discussion Panels with Samuel Thompson:

Great Expectations
05/15/06 - 05/19/06