Thomas Albert as been an active composer for over five decades; his music has been performed throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Brazil, Japan, and Korea.
His best-known work, “Thirteen Ways,” was the first commission offered by the Grammy-winning ensemble, Eighth Blackbird. The piece is based on Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” from which the ensemble derived its name, and is the title work of their premier recording for Cedille Records, “Thirteen Ways.”
In 1976, he received a bicentennial composer grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to compose a piece with an American theme. The result was “Lizbeth”, a one-act opera based on the life and legend of LIzzie Borden. “Lizbeth” was subsequently a finalist in the National Opera Association’s Chamber Opera Competition.
Two of his works, “A Maze (With Grace),” and “Devil’s Rain,” are included on the CD, “On Edge,” by the Philadelphia new music ensemble, Relâche; the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s recording of “Night Music” was released in 2007.
Commissions include three works for the 21st Century Consort: “Characters,” “Illuminations,” and “The Devil’s Handyman;” “Night Music” for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble; “Anonymous Fame” and “The Devil’s Handyman Suite” for the Washington Saxophone Quartet; by the Virginia Music Teachers’ Association for “O Magnum Mysterium” (six-part treble choir) and “No Chance” (percussion ensemble).
After 42 years of teaching composition, music theory and musical theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University, he retired with the rank, Professor Emeritus. He served as the Conservatory’s first Associate Dean for fifteen years; founded and conducted the Shenandoah New Music Ensemble; and was music director and conductor for more than 140 musicals for the conservatory and summer theatre. He retired as Producing Artistic Director of Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre in 2019.
He has composed incidental music for several plays — for Eighth Blackbird, incidental music for the Cincinnati College-Conservatory production of “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches;” for Shenandoah Conservatory, a reworking of his music for “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches,” as well as for productions of “The Elephant Man,” “The Crucible,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Metamorphoses,” “Peer Gynt,” “Three Sisters,” and “The Caucasian Chalk Circle;” and for Short North Stage (Columbus OH), a second reworking of “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches,” and new music for “Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika.”
Thomas Albert was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He was educated at Barton College and the University of Illinois. His principal composition teachers were William Duckworth, Paul Martin Zonn and Ben Johnston. He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. His music is published by Media Press, Inc.