Conductor of the Knoxville Choral Society since 1995 and artistic director since 1996, Dr. Eric Thorson is professor of music and director of choral activities at Carson-Newman University, where he conducts A Cappella Choir, Men’s Chorus, and Oratorio Chorus. In 2003, Thorson was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest award given to faculty at Carson-Newman.
A native of Iowa, he received his bachelor of arts degree from Buena Vista College and both his master of music and doctor of education degrees from Arizona State University. Thorson’s professional music education career spans more than three decades and includes teaching at the elementary, secondary, college, and university levels.
His choirs have given honor performances at divisional conventions and have toured both nationally and internationally, performing with orchestras in Atlanta, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Knoxville. In the summer of 2002, the Knoxville Choral Society appeared under his direction with orchestras in Prague, Czech Republic; Bratislava, Slovak Republic; and Cottbus, Germany. Thorson and members of the Knoxville Choral Society joined a mass chorus in New York City in June of 2005 to sing Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall. His Carson-Newman singers also recently toured Brazil.
In December 2007, Thorson’s A Cappella Choir and members of the Knoxville Choral Society performed in Israel and Jordan as part of a peace initiative between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. Concerts were held in Amman, Jerusalem, and Nazareth, and the tour culminated with a concert in Manger Square in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve.
Thorson has prepared choirs for such notable conductors as Eduardo Mata, Douglas McEwen, Robert Page, John Rutter, Gregg Smith, Noel Tredinnick, and, in Knoxville, Kirk Trevor and Lucas Richman. He has appeared as a featured conductor at divisional and state conventions and has produced seven professional recordings with his choruses. He has served as president of the Tennessee chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and was a member of the advisory board for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.
Thorson is also the founder of the Knoxville Chamber Chorale, a highly select ensemble auditioned from within the ranks of the Knoxville Choral Society that specializes in significant chamber literature.
Also an active church musician, Thorson is the current Minister of Music at West Hills Baptist Church in Knoxville.