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, journalism and arts administration. Samuel has performed in venues including The REACH at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kimmel Center (Philadelphia),
August Wilson African-American Cultural Center (Pittsburgh), Wortham Theatre Center (Houston) and Koerner Hall (Toronto) in addition to concerts and recitals in cities including New Haven, Austin, Chicago, Miami, and both Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. During the 2018-2019 season, Samuel appeared as soloist with Daniel Spalding and the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey for the east coast premiere of Florence Price’s First Violin Concerto, and later appeared as soloist in Bill Barclay’s play “The Black Mozart” which received its premiere in August 2019 at the Tanglewood Music Center’s Linde Center for Learning.
Equally comfortable in the orchestral realm, 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.
Samuel’s interest in jazz and theatre have led to collaboration with artists in those genres. For two seasons he collaborated with 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, respectively, and performed the premiere and subsequent performances of saxophonist Carl Grubbs’s Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore. From 2008-2012 Samuel was a member of the Carpetbag Theatre Ensemble with whom he performed stage works throughout the United States. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Samuel served as second violinist of the Marian Anderson String Quartet in a series of concerts throughout Houston and made his Chicago debut in a 2007 performance of the Elgar Piano Quintet on WFMT-FM's Fazioli Salon Series. He has been presented at the Colour of Music Festival, Gateways Music Festival and the Utah Festival Opera Chamber Music Series.
Well-regarded as a writer, Samuel was recently commissioned to write an article titled “Who’s Fighting for Racial Diversity in Classical Music” for online industry magazine 21cm.org. In 2017, Samuel traveled to Havana, Cuba in 2016 to chronicle a week of concerts and masterclasses organized by conductor Marlon Daniel and the Lyceum Mozartiana de la Habana for online industry magazine Violinist.com. He has also written for Strings Magazine, the San José Chamber Orchestra and Nigel Kennedy Online.
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 and performs regularly with ensembles throughout the region. He is currently the Program Director of the Bridges Program of Maestro Ensembles, Inc., which provides stringed instrument education to students in the Baltimore City Public Schools and has served as an adjudicator for regional competition and solo and ensemble festivals. In 2011 Samuel served as a Group Discussion Facilitator during the National Arts Exchange (a collaboration between Alternate ROOTS and
Baltimore CultureWorks), and performed at the United States Department of Arts And Culture's 2015 Imagining America conference in Baltimore.
A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Samuel 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. Samuel is a recipient of the Sphinx Organization’s MPower Artist Grant and Artistic Assistance Awards from Alternate ROOTS.