London Symphony Orchestra Names André J Thomas as Associate Artist

Leading American specialist in Afro-American Music, André J Thomas, will serve as LSO Associate Artist for a period of three years

(Photo credit: Doug Peters)


In his new role, André J Thomas will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in May, October, and November 2022. Two concerts will feature gospel symphonic music, and the third will present pure symphonic music, with works by African American composers, Carlos Simon, Wynton Marsalis, and Joel Thompson.

Prior to these concerts, Thomas will lead the LSO in the Lift Every Voice concert on Sunday, May 29.  Held at Barbican Hall, the performance will unite the voices of gospel and community choirs from across London in a celebration of African-American gospel, spiritual, and classical music.

Newly created, the Associate Artist role was created to add a variety of musicians to their family of conductors. The Associate Artist will create their own programs in collaboration with the orchestra and contribute to the repertoire choices for other programs throughout the season. Conductor and soprano Barbara Hannigan was appointed Associate Artist of the LSO in February 2022.

"It is a huge honour for me to join LSO family of artists, the audience reception to our gospel and jazz concerts to date has been inspiring, and what is also exciting is the willingness and ease with which the LSO players develop a rapport with this music," André J Thomas said. "I am looking forward to introducing more of the emerging Afro-American composing talent to audiences in the UK, whose influences and references include the great American gospel tradition, which in turn develops a unique African American musical voice."

Thomas is currently Visiting Professor of Conducting at Yale University and the Interim Conductor of the Yale Camerata. As Professor Emeritus at Florida State University, he has conducted choirs at conventions such as the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

He is also a composer and arranger, in addition to the author of the book Way Over in Beulah Lan: Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual.

"It’s a great pleasure to deepen our relationship with André J Thomas as we explore a wider canvas of musical styles," Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO added. "André has been an invaluable source of knowledge in this field, as well as an inspirational choral conductor, composer and educator. As ever LSO musicians and our choral partners thrive on the challenges of playing variety of musical styles."