Thomas Sleeper

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Thomas Sleeper
Born(1956-02-16)February 16, 1956
DiedOctober 15, 2022(2022-10-15) (aged 66)
Years active1975–2022

Thomas M. Sleeper (February 16, 1956 – October 15, 2022) was an American composer and conductor. He was the Orchestra Conductor at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida from 1985 to 1993, and 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 was 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. In 1978 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.

Sleeper was 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. [1] Sleeper was 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. [2] He later lived in Miami, Florida.

In April 2019, Sleeper was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. [3] He died due to complications from the disease on October 15, 2022, at the age of 66. [4] [5]

Notable works


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  2. "Thomas Sleeper Biography. Listen to Classical Music by Thomas Sleeper".
  3. lebrecht, norman (July 2, 2021). "A conductor is battling with debilitating ALS".
  4. "Frost School of Music Mourns the Passing of Beloved Friend and Colleague, Thomas Sleeper". Frost School of Music. 18 October 2022. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  5. "Obituary: Composer & Conductor Thomas Sleeper Dies at 66". OperaWire. October 31, 2022.
  6. "Conductor - Sleeper, Thomas M. at CD Universe".