Or­gan con­cert in­tro­duces Paul Thomas to town

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MUSIC - BY SU­SAN PIERCE STAFF WRITER

Paul Brax­ton Thomas moved to Chat­tanooga in July from Charleston, South Carolina, after ac­cept­ing the po­si­tion of di­rec­tor of mu­sic at St. Paul’s Epis­co­pal Church.

He will make his mu­si­cal in­tro­duc­tion to his new town with an or­gan con­cert at St. Paul’s on Fri­day night, Sept. 28. His de­but will be a pro­gram of French-in­spired mu­sic. The con­cert is free, how­ever a freewill of­fer­ing will be col­lected to help fund schol­ar­ships for young cho­ris­ters at St. Paul’s to at­tend mu­sic camps, choir fes­ti­vals and other ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Thomas was pre­vi­ously or­gan­ist at the Cathe­dral Church of St. Luke & St. Paul in Charleston. He says the po­si­tion at St. Paul’s ap­pealed to him be­cause “it’s a vi­brant, ac­tive, grow­ing church with a strong his­tory and tra­di­tion of mu­sic. I see a lot of po­ten­tial for great sa­cred mu­sic.”

Thomas says that for his con­cert pro­gram, he has cho­sen works by Bach that demon­strate a French in­flu­ence in his writ­ing, and the re­main­ing pieces will all be by French com­posers such as Marchand, Cochereau and Dupre.

“I’ve al­ways been drawn to the French school of or­gan com­po­si­tion and im­pro­vi­sa­tion. There is an em­pha­sis on us­ing dif­fer­ent tone col­ors on the or­gan and con­trast­ing them. That’s an im­por­tant part of French com­po­si­tion from its ori­gins through to­day,” he de­scribes.

Thomas holds a Mas­ter of Mu­sic de­gree in or­gan per­for­mance and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in church mu­sic stud­ies from Yale School of Mu­sic and In­sti­tute of Sa­cred Mu­sic. While at Yale, he re­ceived the Richard Paul DeLong prize for the stu­dent “whose work best ex­em­pli­fies the ded­i­ca­tion and the use of those spe­cial gifts re­quired of prac­tic­ing church mu­si­cians.”

He has given solo or­gan recitals at the Pic­colo Spo­leto Fes­ti­val, Yale’s Woolsey Hall and Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral. An ac­tive vo­cal soloist and ac­com­pa­nist, he has per­formed with the West­min­ster Choir, The King’s Coun­ter­point, the Tay­lor Fes­ti­val Choir and the Charleston Bach Ensemble.

He and wife Mered­ith have one young son.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Paul Thomas is new di­rec­tor of mu­sic at St. Paul’s Epis­co­pal Church.

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