Thomas Sleeper, composer

composer, conductor
Thomas Sleeper is a composer writing concert music and music for film. He has conducted and recorded with groups such as the Russian National Symphony and the Brno Philharmonic for Albany Records, Centaur, IRIDA and Naxos.

South Florida Classical Review

Distinguished Achievement Award

"Sleeper is a highly talented composer who has written a large body of works in wide ranging genres... the premiere of his Violin Concerto (Hypnagogia) in a stunning performance by Huifang Chen with conductor Andres Jaime, delivered a worthy addition to the repertoire, a showpiece of romantic hues and barn-burning bravura. As both conductor and composer, Sleeper remains one of the brightest lights of the Frost faculty."    - Lawrence Budmen

latest News
Sleeper: Through a Glass Darkly - New CD Release 13. Feb 2016

Uroboros Music recently released "Through a Glass Darkly" featuring Sleeper's Symphony No. 4 with Paul Philips and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, Adagio from Syymphony No. 1 with the Russian National Orchestra, Finale to The SIlver MIrror with the Brno Philharmonic, Marina Radiushina, piano and Han...

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Brahms: Sonata For Clarinet Opus 120, No2 arr. for orchestra by Sleeper
Live performance of Thomas Sleeper’s orchestration of the Sonata No. 2 in Eb . Margaret DOnaghue, soloist and the Ruse Philharmonic. Sleeper, conducting.

Sleeper's arrangement uses as its models not only Brahms’ orchestral music, but his chamber music as well, employing moments reminiscent of the Clarinet Trio and Quintet for transparency and clarity. Brahms’ orchestration of the Opus 56aVariations on a Theme of Haydn was especially revealing as it also exists in the version for piano four hands. The Concerto for Violin, Opus 77 and the Piano Concerto in Bb Major, Opus 26 were studied for their treatment of the solo instrument in the orchestral setting as well as the relationship of the original piano part to the final orchestral score. 
Sleeper: Through a Glass Darkly
Thomas Sleeper's song cycle "Through a Glass Darkly". Irini Kyriakidou, soprano, Zoe Zeniodi, conductor, Ensemble 21. Premiere February 23, 2011. Miami, Florida

Through a Glass Darkly

1. traces
everywhere the residue of you:
fleeing, periphery...
fading under lids,
just out of range...
your voice...
fading echoes
through the wound between heaven and earth ...
or hell...

II. possessions

sometimes you are on the surface...
I the ghost...
looking up, observing...
Watching you use my voice, you my hands...
I can only watch ... fascinated... breathless...
breathless at the transparency of it all...
How many times have you done this while I slept?
Have I ever really dreamed?

III. awakenings

How long it took to find...
you are not seen by all men...
that not all know of your ecstasy...
I've become aware of this...slipping into consciousness as others into sleep

-Giordano Bruno
2015-10-17 South Florida Classical Review, Miami
"Howard Hanson Symphony No. 5...The indefatigable Sleeper led a superb performance, bringing thrust and unflagging momentum to the mercurial rhythmic shifts and building the big climaxes with a firm hand. The student players excelled in this score. themselves, The rock solid brass had real impact, the chorale melody was warm and evenly balanced. Throughout the score, the orchestra's strings and winds were sonorous and strongly present. It would be difficult to imagine a stronger reading, even by a leading professional orchestra."
(Lawrence Budmen)
REVIEW from 2015-10-17  
Sleeper, Frost Symphony do full justice to Mahler’s Fifth
2015-09-20 South Florida CLassical Review, Miami, FLorida

The University of Miami's Frost Symphony Orchestra usually impresses with the polish and verve of its performances under conductor Thomas Sleeper, and the performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 5 made for an exciting and moving evening of music.

There was nothing drilled or rote about the performance. This was authentic Mahler, with the orchestra expressing the Fifth Symphony's vast range of emotions. In the wistful melodies of the middle movements, these students in their late teens and early 20s did a creditable job of portraying world-weary Viennese nostalgia. And throughout there was an epic feel for the long line, a musical journey that begins with a funeral march and passes through strife, sadness, angst and romantic love before the hard-won light of its optimistic, major-key ending.

The opening funeral march was weighted and grim, with drum rolls, thunderclap chords and dark melodies in strings and winds, played with sure intonation and a sense of forward motion. The second movement came off with stormy, menacing vigor, but with a transparency that allowed all the sections' contributions to be heard. In the third movement, the horns took center stage and gave an assured, graceful performance, with full tones and a trace of central European village band to their style.

The famous Adagietto was a highlight of the evening. Composed for strings and harp only, the movement was written as a love letter to Mahler's wife Alma. Sleeper took the movement at a faster speed that many conductors, giving it an extra jolt of urgency and passion. The orchestra played with a gorgeous string tone, full-bodied and rich, even in pianissimo passages, with crescendos that reached ardent climaxes.

The final movement was a hard-driving, stirring performance, with sonorous, noble playing in the brass.

(David Fleshler)
REVIEW from 2015-09-20  
SLEEPER: Through a Glass Darkly and other works - Critic's Choice
 Opera News, NY, NY
"IN THE NOTES for his compelling, enigmatic song cycle Through a Glass Darkly, composer Thomas Sleeper implies a fine line between those we revere as "mystics" and "prophets" and those we dismiss as "schizophrenic" or "delusional." It's certainly rife territory for musical illumination. The instrumental prelude is reflective and dreamlike but substantive, with a deft, well-calibrated blend of consonance and dissonance that seems to be Sleeper's specialty. His knack for conjuring the unexpected and the otherworldly is well suited to lines like "everywhere the residue of you: fleeting, periphery…." The second song, "Possessions," has a wonderfully mysterious sweep to it, and the third, "Awakenings," summons Scriabin and Messiaen in its evocations of ecstasy. Sleeper wrote the cycle for Greek soprano Irini Kyriakidou, obviously with her iridescent, alluring timbre in mind; she sounds like she's calling to you from another world. Conductor Zoe Zeniodi and 21st Ensemble, the work's other dedicatees, provide shimmering accompaniment.
The Silver Mirror is music to a documentary film (by Ali Habashi) about aging, and it develops material from the final song of Through a Glass Darkly. Featuring haunting vocalises by soprano Hana Skarkova and lush piano solos by Marina Radiushina, it showcases Sleeper's flair for dramatic gestures of powerful impact and harmonic originality. Like the best film music, it stands on its own exceptionally well.
Sleeper's four-movement Symphony No. 4 sustains the composer's affinity for the unearthly in a large-scale, purely instrumental piece, as the music evolves purposefully from one haunted landscape to another. This is a visionary, captivating, and obviously personal work, fresh and original throughout.
(Joshua Rosenblum)
Beethoven 7 Frost Symphony Thomas Sleeper
2016-10-16 South Florida Classical Review,

Wagner called Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 "the apotheosis of the dance" and Thomas Sleeper led the score with unflagging momentum. Sleeper has always been an excellent Beethoven conductor but this performance was one of his finest achievements. Throughout the symphony's four movements, there was wonderful clarity of instrumental detail even at the most vigorous pace. The transition from the slow introduction to the buoyant Vivace of the first movement was smoothly coordinated. Sleeper shaped the melody of the famous Allegretto in one long arc without succumbing to the temptation to make the movement sound funereal. He drew a full, rich sound from the ensemble's lower strings, particularly the violas. The violin lines were always audible over the full instrumental forces.

The third movement Presto took off at a breakneck clip but corporate precision remained cohesive. In the trio section, the tricky horn parts were vociferous and spot on. The final movement was Allegro con brio indeed, with Sleeper pushing the rhythm forward to the final pages. A brief wrong entrance did not diminish an outstanding performance that was true to Beethoven's masterful synthesis of inspired melody, dance like impetuosity and symphonic form.

(Lawrence Budmen)
REVIEW from 2016-10-16  
SLEEPER: CD release: Symphony No. 3, Children's Suite No. 2, PARALLAX
Uroboros Music releases Symphony No. 3 "Ex Nihilo"  and Chamber Concerto for Alto Saxophone performed by US Navy Band, Children's Suite No. 2 - Russian National Orchestra and Brno Philharmonic- PARALLAX featuring Timothy Shade- EUphonium 
SLEEPER: Rubric's Cubicle from "Einstein's inconsistency"
A very brief comic opera by Thomas Sleeper- one of 8 mini operas in "Einstein's Inconsistency" available through Albany Records.
Tony Boutté, tenor; Jeffrey Williams, baritone
Hana Sleeper, Clerk; Leyla Sleeper, Man 
Sleeper: Brno Philharmonic FInale to film "The Silver MIrror"
Sleeper conducts the Brno Philharmonic in a recording session of his music for the film "The Silver Mirror."

Four world premieres highlight Gary Green’s farewell Frost concert
2015-04-27 South Florida Classical Review,

... Sleeper contributed his Symphony No. 5–Chamber Symphony, the 13-member chamber orchestra composed of both students and faculty. Cast in three movement, the nearly 30- minute score is one of Sleeper's finest works.

Opening with a dark and pensive Andante espressivo , the music becomes ever more agitated. The Furioso section unleashes timpani at full throttle. A three-part second movement forms the heart of the work. The initial short, neo-Classical melody is tossed between strings, winds and piano. In the central section, an emotional, melodically inspired  theme rises through the ensemble.

The Allegro agitato finale finds metallic percussion taking a major role through the charged rhythms and tart harmonics A rapid, hard-hitting conclusion references Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printempts, a work Green conducted with the Frost Symphony Orchestra.

Sleeper's wonderful thematic invention and challenging instrumental writing shines through every page of this fine work. Green led a rhythmically urgent performance with particularly strong contributions from flutist Trudy Kane, saxophonist Dale Underwood, cellist Joy Adams, pianist Lauralie Pow and percussionist Maria Chlebus.

(Lawrence Budmen)
REVIEW from 2015-04-27  
European premiere of Concerto for Horn and Orchestra
Stefan de Leval Jezierski, soloist with Schoenberg Symphony Orchestra
Philharmonie Berlin 
Sleeper: Symphony No. 1, II. Adagio
Paul Phillips and The Meadows Symphony Orchestra perform the premiere of Sleeper's Symphony No. 1 - this video of movement II Adagio - the entire work is on YouTube and was recorded for Albany Records. Phillips will premiere the 4th Symphony this October with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra  in Dallas, Texas. 
SLEEPER: Violin Concerto No.1 Mvt II
Slow movement of Sleeper's Violin COncerto No. 1 - Huifang Chen soloist - Brno Philharmonic - 
Sleeper: Einstein’s Inconsistency
2015-09-15 Opera News,
" Einstein's Inconsistency, from the intriguingly creative composer Thomas Sleeper, is a series of eight short operas of decreasing length, from twenty-one minutes down to one. - Sleeper's carefully crafted harmonic language is otherworldly, both disorienting and strangely lyrical. The composer conducts the ace musicians of the Bruno Philharmonia in spanking clean performances of these intriguing and innovative short operas. "
(Joshua Rosenblum)
REVIEW from 2015-09-15  
Sleeper: Violin Concerto No.1 "Hypnagogia"
Early sketch from VIolin Concerto No. 1 written for Huifang Chen.