Dr. Thomas Bookhout has over three decades experience preparing and conducting symphony, opera, university, community, school, and church choruses. Now in his sixth year with The Phoenix Symphony, he has prepared the Chorus for its varied and challenging masterworks repertoire, including Verdi’s and Mozart’s Requiems, Kodaly’s Psalmus Hungaricus, Estévez’s Cantata Criolla, Pärt’s In Principio, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and many others. During his tenure, the Symphony Chorus has grown over 40%, and enjoys a reputation for its commanding performances and engaging rehearsals.
In 2017, Bookhout conducted The Phoenix Symphony Chorus in performances in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, through MidAmerica Productions, as well as in several independent performances in Poland in memory of the 250th anniversary of Telemann’s death. This was Bookhout’s third performance tour in Poland. In 2015, he conducted the Symphony Chorus in its Carnegie Hall debut performance, leading them in the world-premiere of Dan Forrest’s Psalm of Ascension for chorus and orchestra. In that same concert, he conducted the Manhattan Concert Productions Masterworks Chorus and the New York City Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
Bookhout also is founder and musical director of the Arizona Sacred Chorale—an independent chorus dedicated to the exceptional performance of fine sacred choral music—and Director of Fine Arts at Scottsdale Christian Academy, which has been proud to have its high school choir perform in two MCP Masterworks choruses, under Bruce Rogers and Jo-Michael Scheibe.
Previously, Bookhout was Chorus Master for the West Virginia Symphony, preparing its chorus for major symphonic performances, such as Britten’s War Requiem, Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony, and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and for fully staged operas, including Verdi’s Il Travotore, Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, and Bizet’s Carmen, earning notable reviews in the American Record Guide and Opera News. Bookhout also has been Director of Choral Activities at the University of Charleston, Music Director of the Taghkanic Chorale (a position previous held by eminent conductors Johannes Somary and Dennis Keene), Music Pastor and Director at the Camelback Bible Church, and Director of Music at The Stony Brook School on Long Island.
Dr. Bookhout earned his advanced degrees at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and Arizona State University, as well as a bachelor of music degree from Houghton College, New York. His teachers and coaches have included Donald Neuen, Donald Bailey, Alfred Mann, Samuel Adler, David Stocker, Eric Nelson, Joseph Flummerfelt, Frauke Haaseman, and Dale Warland. He has served on the executive board of the Arizona chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, is a member of numerous professional organizations, and is a member of the Council for the Von Promnitz Palace Center for the Arts in Żary, Poland.