Thomas Nielsen fell in love with music the first time he pressed the keys of a toy piano his grandmother bought for him when he was five. Around the same time, he developed a voracious appetite for reading, the beginnings of a shared passion for music and storytelling that has shaped his life. After winning the highest honors in piano and composition from the Peabody Preparatory in his hometown of Baltimore, Thomas commenced college at Columbia University in New York, where he became interested in how he could combine his loves of reading and music to connect with the world around him. It was here that he found his calling: film scoring. After four years balancing freelancing with his studies, Thomas graduated magna cum laude with a double degree in music and English. He was also awarded departmental honors for his English thesis, which he wrote on the dramatic function of music in Shakespeare’s plays.
In the years since Thomas began scoring, he has worked on dramas, documentaries, web content, commercials, indie thrillers, and many other interesting projects. In 2018-19, notable work included music for Meal Ticket, a documentary directed by Sancheev Ravichandran, and For Hemingway, a short film starring Elizabeth Cappuccino (Jessica Jones, Broad City) and directed by Peter Zachwieja. He also composed an accompaniment for the silent film Manhatta (1921), considered to be the first American avant-garde film. His score for the film was recently recorded by the Longleash Trio. Thomas is a two-time participant of the NYU Summer Film Scoring Program, where he has worked with Michael Levine (Cold Case) and Mark Snow (The X-Files).
Thomas maintains a similar passion for composing concert music. His compositions have been performed by numerous professional and student ensembles and include works for chamber ensemble, symphony orchestra, and solo instruments. In 2017, his piece to muddy death was premiered by the contemporary music ensemble loadbang.
His principle mentors have included Benjamin Pasternack of the Peabody Conservatory and Golda Tatz of the Manhattan School of Music (piano) and Judah Adashi of the Peabody Conservatory and Zosha Di Castri of Columbia University (composition). In his little spare time, he dabbles in ethnomusicology, and is currently completing a paper on Maori influences in the music of Alfred Hill, a little-known 20th century New Zealand composer. Thomas also loves reading poetry, hiking, and drinking large servings of iced coffee.