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Pianist and Composer

Composer, conductor, pianist, and educator Joel Thompson is Houston Grand Opera’s Composer in Residence. His first opera, The Snowy Day, created with librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, made its world premiere at HGO in December 2021. His choral work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, premiered in November 2015 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and Dr. Eugene Rogers and won the 2018 American Prize for Choral Composition. In August 2021 he premiered To Awaken the Sleeper in Boulder at the Colorado Music Festival; the piece sets the writings of James Baldwin to music. Thompson’s works have been performed by esteemed ensembles such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Master Chorale, Los Angeles Master Chorale, EXIGENCE, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and London Symphony Orchestra. Currently a doctoral student at the Yale School of Music, Thompson was also a 2017 post-graduate fellow in Arizona State University’s Ensemble Lab/Projecting All Voices Initiative and a composition fellow at the 2017 Aspen Music Festival and School, where he studied with composers Stephen Hartke and Christopher Theofanidis and won the 2017 Hermitage Prize. Thompson taught at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta from 2015 to 2017, and also served as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College from 2013 to 2015. Thompson has a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Master of Music in Choral Conducting, both from Emory University.

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