Thomas Kociela is currently Music Director of the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra and the Parkway Concert Orchestra (Norwood, MA). He was most recently Assistant Conductor of the Temecula Valley Symphony and Music Director of the Temecula Valley Youth Symphony in California where membership more than doubled over his three year tenure.
As a performer, Thomas spent seven years as a substitute musician with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). 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), the brass ensemble director at the University of Chicago, and the wind ensemble director at the Chicago High School for the Arts. 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 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 with conductor pedagogues Victor Yampolsky, Cristian Măcelaru, Robert Franz, Markand Thakar, David Jacobs, Erin Freeman, and Donald Schleicher.