February 16, 1956
Wagoner, Oklahoma, U.S.
Thomas M. Sleeper (born February 16, 1956) is a modern American composer and conductor. His music has been described as 'hauntingly mysterious' and 'richly lyrical'.He was the Director of Orchestral Activities and Conductor of the University of Miami Frost Symphony Orchestra until his retirement in 2018. He was also the director of the Florida Youth Orchestra from 1993 to 2020.
Sleeper was born in Wagoner, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. He received his Bachelor of Music at the University of Texas, and subsequently received his Master of Music at Southern Methodist University, where he studied under Daryl F. Rauscher of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and James Rives-Jones. From 1975 to 1978, while in Austin, Sleeper was active with an avant-garde group of composer/performers called "Fermata". As a member of "Fermata" he worked with composers such as Jerry Willingham, Jerry Hunt and Robert Xavier Rodriguez. At 22 years of age Sleeper was appointed Associate Conductor of the Dallas Civic Symphony. Following his conducting stint with the Dallas Civic Symphony, Sleeper began to compose many pieces of music including, but not limited to, operas, concerti, symphonies, solo and chamber music.
He is a frequent guest conductor all over the world and has performed with ensembles such as the Central Philharmonic of China (where he gave the Chinese premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in 1992), Argentina's San Juan Symphony Orchestra, and Bulgaria's Ruse State Philharmonic. In addition, he was named the Artistic Advisor of the China-Wuhan Symphony in 1993 where he gave the Chinese premiere of Brahms' 2nd Piano Concerto with soloist Justin Blasdale.Sleeper is an advocate of new music, and has commissioned and conducted the premieres of works of composers including Roberto Sierra, Thomas Ludwig, Henry Brant, Carlos Surinach, and Robert Xavier Rodriguez. He currently lives in Miami, Florida.
In April 2019, Sleeper was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
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