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 musical life that spans solo, chamber music, and orchestral performance, music education and arts journalism. Prizewinner in the 2011 Padova International Music Competition and the recipient of two Artistic Assistance Awards from Alternate ROOTS made possible with funds form the Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Samuel has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the United States in addition to numerous concerts and recitals in cities including New York, Philadelphia, New Haven, Washington DC, Baltimore, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Miami, and both Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. Internationally, he has been heard on concert stages in Canada, the Bahamas, Italy, Guadeloupe and Cameroon. During the 2018-19 season, Samuel joins Daniel Spalding and the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey as soloist in the east coast premiere of Florence Price's First Violin Concerto.
Throughout his career Samuel has collaborated with artists in multiple disciplines. A significant collaborator with saxophonist and John Coltrane disciple Carl Grubbs, Samuel performed in the 2015 premiere and subsequent performances of Mr. Grubbs' Inner Harbor Suite Revisited: A Tribute to Baltimore for Jazz Combo and String Quartet. He has also 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, and from 2011-14 both premiered and performed important modern works with Washington DC's Great Noise Ensemble. 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 also performed at the Colour of Music Festival, Gateways Music Festival and the Utah Festival Opera Chamber Music Series.
Equally comfortable in the orchestral realm, Samuel served as concertmaster of the 2016 premiere of Paul Crabtree's “The Ghost Train” with the Peabody Chamber Opera and served as one of the concertmasters of the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre from 2008-2010. His orchestral career began in 1998 with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and includes two years of performances with the New World Symphony under conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Donald Runnicles, Sergiu Commissiona, Marin Alsop, Hugh Wolff and Manfred Honeck. Samuel is also a founding member of the Colour of Music Virtuosi, which performed its debut concert at the 2014 Colour of Music Festival with Thompson as one of eight soloists, and was a founding member of John Axelrod's Orchestra X in Houston, Texas. During the 2002-2003 season Samuel was a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently performs with Philadelphia's Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra and the Colour of Music Virtuosi, the latter which has performed across the eastern seabord.
Well-regarded as a writer, 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. Samuel has also written for Strings Magazine, Nigel Kennedy Online, and the San José Chamber Orchestra.
An active member of the regional arts community, Thompson is a Teaching Artist with the DC Youth Orchestra Program and an instructor in the Baltimore Bridges Program, a program which takes stringed instrument education into both the Baltimore City Public Schools and charter schools within Baltimore City. Samuel also served as a music grant review panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council for four years. 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 2015 Imagining America Conference in Baltimore for the United States Department of Arts and Culture. He has also served as an adjudicator for regional competitions and solo and ensemble festivals.
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. A prizewinner at the 2011 Padova International Music Competition, Samuel has participated in the National Orchestral Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, Gateways Music Festival, the International Saint-Georges Music Festival in Guadeloupe and the Tafelmusik Summer Baroque Institute.