Faculty & Staff Profiles

Matthew Thompson

Assistant Professor of Music

Matthew Thompson, DMA— collaborative piano, is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Michigan.  There his duties include teaching courses as varied as “Introduction to Lyric Diction and IPA” to groundbreaking and massively popular classes like “Video Game Music.”  In addition to his classroom duties, Thompson serves as a vocal coach for graduate voice students.

As a pianist, Dr. Thompson has performed with operatic celebrities like Thomas Hampson, Golden Mask winner Vince Yi, and even musical theater gurus like Tony Award winner, Gavin Creel. A sought after vocal coach, he’s prepared singers from beginners to seasoned artists for recitals, recordings, competitions, young artist programs, auditions, and performances, both local and in major venues around the world. Equally comfortable collaborating with instrumentalists, Thompson has performed on the Ann Arbor Symphony Chamber Music Series, the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings Series, and the Great Lakes Chamber Music Vignette Series. He regularly plays with the U-M Wind and Brass faculty, and has performed with large ensembles like the Flint Symphony and the Michigan Philharmonic. Thompson is artistic director for the Carolyn Mawby Chorale, based in Flint Michigan, which was recently featured in the Netflix original series, Flint Town. Thompson can be heard in numerous live performances online, some of which can be streamed from Thompson’s YouTube channel and the Carolyn Mawby Chorale’s YouTube channel. He can also be heard in a recently released recording with U-M alumnus and oboist, Dr. Alex Hayashi, Japonica, as well as in recording with David Ammer, trumpet, La trompette a renouvelé.

In addition to his work as a pianist, Dr. Thompson’s interests in game audio have become a major component of his teaching and research profile. In 2013, Thompson became one of the first collegiate pedagogues to use video game music as a teaching tool when he created his infamous Video Game Music class. Thompson has presented multiple times at the North American Conference on Video Game Music (NACVGM), the only scholarly conference on video game music in North America (2018: “There’s no question you’ll be popular after performing these in front of your friends!” the pedagogy and performance of piano transcriptions of video game music). In 2018, Thompson was lead organizer and host for the 5th annual NACVGM, held at U-M, and he continues to serve on the NACVGM program committee. Dr. Thompson chaired and presented for the first ever academic ludomusicology/ sound studies track at GameSoundCon, a historically industry based conference, and he continues to serve on the advisory board for GSC. During the 2018-2019 school year, Thompson won a grant allowing him to create and teach the first ever collegiate studio of pianists studying video game piano transcriptions. As part of this experimental year, Thompson invited Video Game Pianist, Dr. Martin Leung, to have a residency at U-M, teaching and performing, and Thompson joined Leung for Leung’s first public performance of video game piano duets. In late 2019, Thompson will release a world premiere recording of “For the Piano,” a solo piano piece by Halo and Destiny composer, Marty O’Donnell. Thompson maintains a blog which has attracted both scholarly and industry attention at and has written proactively commissioned book reviews published in the American Journal of Play.

Thompson received masters and doctoral degrees from The University of Michigan in collaborative piano, studying with his long time mentor, Martin Katz. His undergraduate degree, with highest honors and highest distinction, is from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Thompson’s summer training included prestigious young artist programs like Song Fest, the Merola Opera Program, and Wolf Trap Opera. Summers are now typically spent teaching music to students of all levels; recently, he has been teaching at SMTD’s MPulse Solo Vocal Institute.

Bio last updated July 2019

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