Alongside our inaugural Ravel Challenge 2017, we interview special guest composer and orchestrator Thomas Goss about his life, his own works, his approach to orchestration, as well as his online academy, Orchestration Online. Thomas is interviewed by ASA President David Das.
About Thomas Goss
Thomas Goss is a professional composer and orchestrator with an international roster of clients. He has worked with such talents as Billy Ocean, Melanie C, Sharon Corr, and Nikki Yanofsky. His compositions, orchestrations, and crossover arrangements have been performed by such ensembles as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony Chamber Ensemble.
Thomas is also a pioneer in the field of orchestral education programs. In his adopted country of New Zealand, every full-time orchestra from Christchurch Symphony to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has performed his educational programming. His piece for narrator and orchestra, “Tane and the Kiwi,” was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia in 2002, and has been performed many times across New Zealand since then. Thomas has also composed two legends for orchestra based on Maori sources: “Maui’s Fishhook” and “Battle of the Mountains,” both commissioned and premiered by the Vector Wellington Orchestra.
In Thomas’s current role as Education Composer-in-residence for Vector Wellington Orchestra, he has composed and presented a yearly series of orchestra discovery programs for young listeners ages 2 to 6, called “Baby Pops.” Now in its 7th year, this ongoing series has introduced tens of thousands of children in New Zealand’s Lower North Island region to orchestral instruments and music through song, story-telling, and active participation.
Thomas Goss is also a strong supporter of orchestras on the community and youth level. He served for six years as composer in residence for the Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, composing numerous concertos and string orchestra works, featuring some of the best players from the ranks as soloists. These works continue to be programmed, such as Thomas’s Double Bass concerto, which was the repertoire of bassist Louis Van Der Mespel’s prize winning showing at the 2012 Wellington Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition. Thomas has also worked with numerous other non-professional groups, like the American Philharmonic Cotati, who commissioned and premiered his “Phoenix Concerto” with erhu (Chinese violin) virtuoso Xiaofeng Zheng in 2005.
Thomas is also in demand as a writer on music, having contributed interviews, articles, and reviews to such journals as 20th/21st Century Music, San Francisco Classical Voice, and New Zealand Musician Magazine. He is a regular on-air presenter with Radio New Zealand Concert’s many programs such as Appointment, The Critic’s Chair, and Composer of the Week.
Thomas Goss has been using notation software since it was first developed for the personal computer in the 1980’s, and became a Sibelius user from its first version in the year 2000. He has scored over 20 hours of professionally performed orchestral music using Sibelius, and many more chamber pieces and piano works. His YouTube Channel, Orchestration Online, features a detailed review of the latest version of Sibelius, along with advice on orchestration, score-reading, and many other topics for the composer-in-training.