Organ concert introduces Paul Thomas to town
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.
Paul Thomas is new director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.