Thomas Kociela is Music Director of the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra and the Parkway Concert Orchestra (Norwood,MA).
Prior to moving to Boston Thomas was Assistant Conductor of the Temecula Valley Symphony (TVS) in California, where he directed the Rock Legends Concert in June of 2016, featuring Rock Legends Vinny Appice, Andrew Freeman, Rudy Sarzo, and Craig Goldy with TVS for the city of Temecula. His performance of Steven Mahpar’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland was met with critical acclaim. Thomas has also directed TVS along with the Temecula Valley Symphony Chorus in performance in the music of John Williams. Thomas was also Music Director of the Temecula Valley Youth Symphony where membership more than doubled over his three year tenure. The orchestra pushed new boundaries and collaborated with ensembles and musicians ranging from women’s chorus, opera singer, electronic track, flute and saxophone duo, student soloists, as well as guest bands and orchestras – with an increased number of community concerts. Thomas has conducted members of TVS and the Temecula Valley Youth Symphony during side by side rehearsals and performances on TVS concerts as a vehicle for developing both organizations and to increase student membership.
As a performer, Thomas spent seven years as a substitute musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on trombone and has been featured on the euphonium and bass trumpet within the orchestra. He has shared the stage with conductors and artists such as Bernard Haitink, Michael Tilson Thomas, James Conlon, Yo-Yo Ma, Michelle DeYoung, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, David Robertson, Sir James Galway, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sir Mark Elder, Edwin Outwater, Alastair Willis, and Sir Patrick Stewart. Thomas traveled to Carnegie Hall on tour with the CSO three times, performing under Pierre Boulez and Riccardo Muti – and once to Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor with the CSO. He also performed with the CSO for Festa Muti! A Free Concert for Chicago in Millennium Park (Muti’s first concert as Music Director). Thomas has also performed with the Ars Viva Symphony, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Kenosha Symphony, Racine Symphony, West Michigan Symphony, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, among others.
While in Chicago, Thomas was the Assistant Conductor at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO). He also served as CYSO’s Pathways Neighborhood Ensembles Music Director, designing and implementing small ensemble and private lesson programs at underserved schools around Chicago. Thomas developed and directed the brass ensemble at the University of Chicago. As an Artist Teacher at the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) Thomas directed the wind ensemble and taught music theory.
Thomas created the Intonation Repair Tool (IRT), a training method which significantly improves a musician’s ability to play in tune and quickly adjust to others. The IRT is used by musicians in virtually every major American symphony orchestra, internationally, and by music educators teaching at all levels. He has given masterclasses about the art of ensemble playing and ensemble intonation at Michigan State University, Hope College, Western Michigan University, Northern Illinois University, The Chicago College of Performing Arts, The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and many school music programs.
Thomas attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where he majored in trombone performance and music education. He was a member of the Franklin Honor Society and graduated Cum Laude in the Spring of 2007. Thomas studied conducting at the New England Conservatory with Charles Peltz. He has pursued additional studies with conductor pedagogues Victor Yampolsky, Cristian Măcelaru, Robert Franz, Markand Thakar, Neil Varon, David Jacobs, Erin Freeman, and Donald Schleicher.