Noted for taking audiences to “a place of calm and beauty” (Blackbook Magazine) and the “excellence and exuberance” of his playing (Charleston Today), Samuel Thompson enjoys a career that includes performance, education and arts journalism. Samuel has appeared in venues including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center (Pittsburgh), Wortham Theater Center (Houston) and Koerner Hall (Toronto) and has soloed with the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey, Orchard Park Symphony, Hopkins Concert Orchestra and at the Tanglewood Music Center’s Linde Center for Learning.
An active member of the Baltimore/Washington arts community, Samuel served as concertmaster for the 2016 premiere of Paul Crabtree's opera “The Ghost Train” with the Peabody Chamber Opera. He performs regularly with the National Philharmonic, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Delaware Symphony, and other ensembles in the mid-Atlantic. Samuel’s orchestral career began in Houston, Texas where he was a founding member of John Axelrod’s Orchestra X and a contracted substitute with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. He later joined the New World Symphony and worked under conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Donald Runnicles, Sergiu Commissiona, Marin Alsop, Hugh Wolff and Manfred Honeck. During the 2002-2003 season Samuel was a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and served as concertmaster of the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre from 2008-2010.
Thompson has performed on chamber music series including WMFT-FM’s Fazioli Salon Series, Colour of Music Festival, Gateways Music Festival and the Utah Festival Opera Chamber Music Series, and served as acting second violinist of the Marian Anderson String Quartet in a series of concerts throughout Houston. He has also worked extensively with artists across other disciplines including visual and performance artist David Antonio Cruz in the premieres of TAKEABITE: The Opera and Green, How I Want You Green at El Museo del Barrio and New York's Snug Harbor; saxophonist Carl Grubbs for the premiere and subsequent performances Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore; and the premiere and tour of playwright Linda Parris-Bailey’s Between a Ballad and a Blues with the Carpetbag Theatre Ensemble.
In addition to performing, Samuel is a passionate, thoughtful and well-regarded writer. In addition to being a regular contributor to Violinist.com, his work has appeared at 21cm.org, Strings Magazine, and Nigel Kennedy Online. In 2017, conductor Marlon Daniel invited Samuel to Havana, Cuba to chronicle a week of concerts and masterclasses the Lyceum Mozartiana de la Habana.
Teaching is an integral component of Samuel’s life, and he has developed a specialty in working with secondary school students on many aspects of violin technique and orchestral playing. Currently a Teaching Artist for the DC Youth Orchestra Program and a member of the Four Strings Academy Summer Intensive Faculty, Samuel has taught students ranging from beginners to young adults and adult amateurs. He has served on the faculty of the Vermont Music and Arts Center, DC Strings Summer Camp, and the Baltimore Symphony ORCHKids, and has given master classes and clinics at the Lyceum Mozartiano de La Habana and the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
Samuel is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and earned the Master of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, where his teachers included Kenneth Goldsmith and the late Raphael Fliegel. A prizewinner in the 2011Padova International Music Competition, Samuel is a recipient of the Sphinx Organization’s MPower Artist Grant and Artistic Assistance Awards from Alternate ROOTS.