Thomas Kociela is currently Music Director of the Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra, the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Parkway Concert Orchestra. He is also the Resident Score Reader and Video Director for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position which involves collaborating with BSO artistic administration and assistant conductors to prepare scores for video capture during live performances of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, and visiting ensembles. Most recently, Thomas was Assistant Conductor of the Temecula Valley Symphony and Music Director of the Temecula Valley Youth Symphony in California. He is also a frequent guest conductor. Recent engagements include the Mississippi Valley Symphony Orchestra, Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, Etchings Festival, Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln-Sudbury Civic Orchestra and Indian Hill Music Youth Orchestras.
As a performer, Thomas performed as a substitute musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) for seven years. 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, and he conducted ensembles at the University of Chicago and the Chicago High School for the Arts. He also served as the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Pathways Neighborhood Ensembles Music Director, designing and implementing ensemble and private lesson programs at underserved schools around Chicago.
Thomas earned a master’s degree in conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in trombone performance and music education studying under Jay Friedman and Charles Groeling respectively. He currently studies conducting with Neil Varon, Professor of Conducting at the Eastman School of Music and has pursued additional studies and masterclasses with conductor pedagogues Victor Yampolsky, Cristian Măcelaru, Robert Franz, Markand Thakar, David Jacobs, Erin Freeman, and Donald Schleicher.