Thollem, from the San Francisco Bay Area, has been a perpetually traveling musician since 2006. He shares his time between North America and Europe, performing/recording as a soloist, in collaboration with many other individuals and groups, as well as leading large ensemble improvisation/collaboration workshops. His music is diverse, approaching each concert and project uniquely, resulting in dramatically new and different outcomes.
Not long after birth, Thollem began studying the keyboard repertoire from the medieval to the 20th century. With degrees in both piano performance and composition, he quit school and his career to dedicate his time to grassroots political movements and ecological restoration projects. In 2005, he returned to music as his full focus, incorporating his experiences into his compositions, improvisations and teaching.
Thollem has performed piano concertos with symphonies, played in West African drumming troupes, Javanese gamelan ensembles, punk bands, with many free improvisation groups, and as a "comproviser" for modern dance and film. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange. He is also the lead singer of the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti.
"Thollem's solo piano music represents years of training and travel, articulating integrations and collisions of influences from the myriad of approaches he's experienced. This is wake up music to stimulate the mind and the body, 'transgressing genre boundaries as much as it transcends them'."
-Dave Wayne, All About Jazz NY
"Thollem inhabits a world uniquely his own, rhythmically, harmonically and formally. A true original."
"Thollem McDonas travels the world looking for magical sounds that will enlighten and inform him about the possibilities of how to live. He is learning the dance of life through sound. Hear a sound feel a sound, care for them but know they have a life of their own. Man didn't invent music it was here when we arrived and will be here after we have died. Musicians like Thollem know this intellectually and intuitively."
- William Parker
Saturday, May 2, 2015
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Photos by Angela C Villa
This event is sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts