Peter J Thomas has been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 2008 and has performed around the world as a multi-genre soloist, clinician, educator, and chamber musician with the award winning classical cross-over indie-rock band, I’m Not A Pilot. Originally from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where he was born into a family of musicians, Mr. Thomas started cello at age five at the American Suzuki Talent Education Center and received degrees at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the Cleveland Institute of Music. His primary teachers were Lawrence Leviton, Tanya Remenikova, Joseph Johnson, and Stephen Geber.
I’m Not A Pilot’s discography can be heard on television, movies, and radio stations all over the world and streaming online at Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio. Voted Best Rock Band 2010, 2011, and 2013 in Milwaukee’s Shepherd Express Weekly, Best Rock Band 2011 at WYMS 88.9fm Radio Milwaukee Music Awards (Song of the Year 2014 nomination), and nominated for a plethora of awards including Band of the Year at the 2012 Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards, I’m Not A Pilot has extensively toured the Midwest performing as a four-piece band (and also in collaboration with youth orchestras) at colleges, high schools, performing art centers, music clubs, music festivals, and house concerts. Peter has presented clinics and workshops across the country through his innovative use of the electric cello and has recorded, arranged, and edited music for numerous artists including 2Cellos and The Piano Guys through Hal Leonard Music. He was the winner of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s String Player of the Year award for 2012 and 2015 and has been nominated for the award each year since 2012.
Prior to joining the MSO, Mr. Thomas performed with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the New World Symphony. Peter appeared as a soloist with the New World Symphony on two separate occasions, where he performed Richard Strauss’s ‘Don Quixote’ and Elgar's Cello Concerto as the 2008 Concerto Competition winner. He also performed Saint-Saens’s Cello Concerto No.1 with the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra in 2011.
As a teacher, Mr. Thomas maintains a private cello studio of extremely gifted musicians and has served on the faculty of the American Suzuki Institute each summer since 2013. He has taught masterclasses at the UW-Stevens Point (WI), Lawrence University (WI), Eastern Michigan University (MI), Washington College (MD), and at numerous high schools across the state of Wisconsin. His students have won competitions and full tuition scholarships in music programs across the country.
Peter enjoys the life of being a multi-genre performer/teacher and strives to spread awareness of the arts in the community through his many outlets. Peter performs on a fine English cello circa 1813 by maker Thomas Kennedy.