Michael Thomas Headshot

New York Youth Symphony Appoints Michael Thomas As Its New Director of NYYS Jazz for the 2023/2024 Season.


New York, NY – The New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) is excited that Michael Thomas has been appointed Director of the NYYS Jazz program, beginning with 2023/24 season. Mr. Thomas follows Andy Clausen, who will step down from his position at the end of the 2022/23 season after seven seasons. Mr. Thomas is no stranger to innovation himself. He began his musical career as a pianist at age 5 and then switched to the saxophone at age 9 – following in his father’s footsteps. Music was a big part of his childhood, besides his father being a saxophonist, his mother was a clarinetist.

“We are thrilled to have found Michael, who we are confident will be a worthy successor to Andy Clausen, who has brilliantly led the program for the last seven years,” explained Robert J. Levine, Senior Vice President of NYYS Trustees and Head of the Jazz Director Search Committee. “Michael’s experience and impressive knowledge of all aspects of the jazz repertoire and his strong ability to communicate with our young musicians were immediately evident in his live audition. We are excited to have Michael continue to take our jazz program to ever higher levels of excellence.”

New York Youth Symphony Jazz is a 17-member swing ensemble dedicated to studying, rehearsing, and performing classic big band jazz music. Modeled on the bands of the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Jazz program preserves this heritage and, keeping with jazz traditions, incorporates it into the current and emerging styles that define the genre for the present generation.

“Teaching for me is a wonderful opportunity to inspire and educate the next generation of jazz musicians by showing them how dedication to music can also instill life lessons like professionalism and responsibility,” said Mr. Thomas. “And working with NYYS is amazing because it provides students with the ability to perform in some of the top jazz venues in New York City which is a great culmination of all the hard work and practice that these students do and allows us to showcase their amazing talents.”

About Michael Thomas

Award-winning saxophonist, composer, and arranger Michael Thomas has been an active member of the New York City jazz community since arriving in 2011. Holding degrees from the University of Miami, New England Conservatory, and The Juilliard School, Mr. Thomas has performed throughout the United States and abroad, including tours in Central and South America, Australia, Europe, Japan, and Russia. His sideman work has included performances with Brad Mehldau, Dafnis Prieto, Nicholas Payton, Miguel Zenón, Etienne Charles, and Jason Palmer, and Mr. Thomas’s talents can be heard on over 30 recordings, including three albums as a leader. As a composer and arranger, Mr. Thomas has been commissioned by school and professional ensembles around the world, and he is currently a member of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in New York City. His talents have been recognized by DownBeat magazine as well as the “Keep an Eye” competition in Amsterdam, NL, and in 2016 he was a winner of the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music commission series. In addition to his own trio, quartet, and quintet, Mr. Thomas also co-leads and writes for the Grammy-nominated Terraza Big Band.

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