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Personal profile


Philip Thomas is Professor in Performance, having joined the University of Huddersfield in 2005. He specialises in performing and writing about new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections.

He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, performing and recording the solo piano music, and co-editing a book about his music. He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, James Saunders, Howard Skempton and Markus Trunk. Additionally, Philip’s work has focussed upon a number of Canadian composers, including Martin Arnold, Cassandra Miller and Linda Smith, and he has been associated with a number of composers from the Wandelweiser collective, most notably Jürg Frey. Solo recordings include releases on ‘another timbre’, ‘HatHut’, ‘Huddersfield Contemporary Records’, ‘Bruce’s Fingers’, ‘Edition Wandelweiser’ and ‘sub rosa’, featuring music by Laurence Crane, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Jürg Frey, Richard Glover, Bryn Harrison, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders and Christian Wolff.

Alongside the music cited above, Philip pursues a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form. This led to a CD release, ‘Comprovisation’, which featured newly commissioned works by Mick Beck, Chris Burn and Simon H Fell.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Music associated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company
  • Recent Canadian experimental music
  • Music by British composers, including Laurence Crane, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, Michael Parsons, James Saunders
  • Music of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Morton Feldman
  • Recent experimental music from the USA and UK
  • Music associated with the ‘Wandelweiser’ collective


  • Music
  • Performance
  • Experimental Music
  • Improvisation
  • John Cage
  • Christian Wolff
  • Morton Feldman
  • indeterminacy
  • piano

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Philip Thomas is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2015 2018

John Cage and the 'Concert for piano and orchestra'

Thomas, J. & Iddon, M.


Project: ResearchResearch Council - AHRC

Research Output 2007 2019

at143: Messiaen + Linda Catlin Smith

Lukoszevieze, A., Benjamin, M., Roche, H. & Thomas, P., 25 May 2019

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


Post-Experimental Survivor: Finnissy the Experimentalist

Thomas, P., 21 May 2019, Critical Perspectives on Michael Finnissy: Bright Futures, Dark Pasts. Pace, I. & McBride, N. (eds.). 1 ed. Abingdon & New York: Routledge, p. 39-57 19 p. (Ashgate Studies in Theory and Analysis of Music after 1900 ).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter



Thomas, P., Harrison, B. & Bellamy, M., 16 Nov 2018

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

World Premiere
String Quartet

Cassandra Miller - O Zomer

Thomas, P. & Miller, C., 1 Aug 2018

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


John Cage - Two2

Thomas, P. & Knoop, M., 15 May 2018

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

John Cage

Activities 2007 2019

Christian Marclay 'Investigations'

Philip Thomas (Participant)
19 Jul 2019

Activity: Other activity typesOther

Suggestions for action’: Notation and movement in recent music by Christian Wolff

Philip Thomas (Speaker), Emily Payne (Speaker)
12 Jul 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

External Examiner (PhD)

Philip Thomas (Examiner)
31 Mar 2019

Activity: Examination typesPhD Examination

Agitating the Discipline: performing Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra

Philip Thomas (Speaker)
19 Mar 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Michael Parsons 80th Birthday concert

Philip Thomas (Participant)
18 Feb 2019

Activity: Other activity typesOther

Press / Media

Another Timbre’s Canadian Composers Series

Julian Thomas


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Other