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by Stacey Jean Birk, reprinted with permission
Jennifer Thomas is an award winning American pianist, violinist, composer, performing artist, recording artist, and endorsed Yamaha artist. She is equally well known for her classical covers and her emotional instrumental compositions.
Thomas was born in Seattle, Washington, to a musician mother and photographer father. She began formal music training at age five, studying under her mother, a pianist and composer. Throughout her school years, she performed in orchestras and adjudications, eventually making her way to Brigham Young University-Idaho, where she studied piano under the direction of Dr. Stephen Allen. During her university training, Thomas performed with the university’s piano ensemble, as well as its symphony, this time on the violin. That versatility distinguished her, both in the academic world, and later as a professional.
After earning her degree, Thomas made a name for herself performing, both on the piano and on the violin, with such organizations as Salt Lake City’s Murray Symphony, the Temple Square Concert Series, and the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. She quickly became a regularly featured soloist, and even drew the attention of the Seattle Symphony, working for a time in their educational department.
During her time at the Seattle Symphony, Thomas began experimenting with her own original compositions. She describes this process as a discovery: having come from a background of musical perfectionism, the idea that she could “make her own rules” freed her to put her virtuosity at the service of her own creativity.
As a composer, Thomas falls into the category classical crossover, though her musical interests and inspiration range widely from classical to cinematic, from traditional to experimental. Her original work draws on her classical training, evident in her highly technical compositions and polished performing style. However, Thomas is as popular for her emotional and imaginative interpretations as she is for her competence.
Thomas released her debut album, Key of Sea, in 2007, to immediate critical acclaim. Including five adaptations of classical pieces and eight original compositions, the album’s tracks have been praised as “sensually sumptuous,” “experimental and intriguing,” and “exquisite and invigorating.” The album also caught the attention of filmmakers, winning an Audience Choice Award in the 2008 Swan Lake Moving Image and Music Awards in Germany for its use in a short film.
Thomas’s second album, The Lullaby Album (2009), followed the birth of her first child; and as a professional collaboration with her mother, Carolyn Southworth, the two-CD track list features lullabies Southworth sang to Thomas as a baby. The duo’s goal was to create an album that parents and children would both enjoy, which explains its diverse popularity. With rich orchestrations on one CD and piano solos on the other, and featuring the talents of Grammy nominated producer/engineer Paul Speer, and Emmy award winning composer Jace Vek, The Lullaby Album has been described as “smooth, polished, and heartfelt from beginning to end.”
In 2012, Thomas released Illumination, her most award-winning album yet. Featuring a combination of complex original works and unique classical covers, Illumination represents four years of both expansion and refinement in Thomas’s technical skill and expressive style. In contrast to The Lullaby Album, Illumination‘s passionate compositions and outspoken orchestration are meant to be played at full volume, enlivening and arousing the listener. According to critic Michael Debbage, “the twin barrels of World and Classical elements with a cutting edge of freshness…will set your musical soul on fire.”
Thomas’s most recent album, Winter Symphony (2015), includes collaborations with musicians from the Ensign Chorus, The Utah Symphony, Salt Lake City Pops Orchestra, and the Chochin Chamber Orchestra. The album features Christmas favorites, like “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Carol of the Bells,” as well as original compositions and covers of scores from popular holiday movies. Notably, this most recent album won “Best Holiday Album” at the 2016 Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
Plans for a fifth album are already in the works, with the release scheduled for fall of 2017. As a special, ten year anniversary event, Thomas will re-release Key of Sea, this time with new bonus tracks, digital remastering of the original songs, and new artwork.
Outside of the recording world, Thomas’s music, which is regularly discussed in terms of the cinematic or atmospheric, has also been featured in film and commercial work. In 2010, Thomas composed the original film score for the film “Minuet” by director/writer Ryan K. McNeal, winning a Gold Medal of Excellence at the 2011 Park City Film Music Festival for “Best Original Music in a Short Film.” Thomas also won “Best Film Score for Short Film” at the 2012 Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and recently completed the score for the new film “Desert Rose” which is currently making its international festival circuit debut.
Real Piano Music.com
"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"
"Beauty and the Beast"
"A Beautiful Storm"
We have selected a few of our favorites for inclusion here.
Jennifer Thomas has been a featured artist on Real Piano Music.com since December 13, 2017.
The Artist Gallery.com
"Carol of the Bells"
Jennifer has many more videos on her YouTube channel.
"Requiem For a Tower"