Dr. Thomas LaVoy is an award-winning composer of contemporary concert music. His work is known for striking a balance between emotional depth and compositional craft, grounded in the power of words and music in tandem. His hallmark sound has been shaped by a broad performance career as a choral singer, pianist, percussionist and singer-songwriter – a practical and multi-faceted education that has long informed his sense of line and melody, large and small-scale forms, and the important relationship between rhythm and harmony. LaVoy received his undergraduate degree at Westminster Choir College in Princeton before moving abroad and completing his PhD in music composition at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he was a choral scholar in the Chapel Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen.
LaVoy’s choral works have been commissioned and performed by choirs across the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as in mainland Europe, Asia and Oceania. Following the Carnegie Hall debut of his White Stones in 2016, Thomas received a commission from the John Armitage Memorial (JAM) in London to produce a substantial work for the BBC Singers. The resulting work, O Great Beyond, was premiered at the annual JAM on the Marsh festival by Nicholas Cleobury and the BBC Singers, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's In Concert. The 2017-2019 seasons have seen numerous commissions and have featured Thomas as Composer-in-Residence with Voce (CT), Laudamus Chamber Chorale (CO), Arts District Chorale (TX), Redeemer Bryn Mawr (PA) and The Ridgefield Chorale (CT), among others.
Dr. LaVoy often looks to our collective human past for inspiration, composing new works based on the writings of people whose voices have been forgotten or neglected by history. His keen interest in the intersection of art and history began with a 2013 commission from the Marquette Symphony Orchestra to compose A Child’s Requiem, a collaboration with poet Esther Margaret Ayers to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, MI, in which 73 people lost their lives when a man shouted “Fire!” in a crowded room on Christmas Eve. Since then, Thomas has completed a number of other historically-driven compositions – a commission for Scottish baritone Niall Anderson based on his great-grandfather’s prisoner of war diaries from WWI, a Westminster Choir College commission setting the last letter of Sullivan Ballou from the American Civil War, and a companion work to Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb based on the life and writings of Nancy Luce, the “Chicken Lady” of Martha’s Vineyard.
Thomas is a founding member and Composer-in-Residence of The Same Stream, a professional choir based in Philadelphia and conducted by James Jordan. This choir has recorded and performed much of LaVoy’s output, with the 2018 release of Songs of the Questioner and the upcoming 2019 release of O Great Beyond. His music is primarily published by GIA Publications in Chicago, with additional individual publications from Walton Music, G. Schirmer and Hewitt Hill Music. Thomas currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, Sarah Rimkus.