THOMAS NEENAN is Lecturer in Music History and Music Theory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Director of Music at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades. Since 1985 he has served as Music Director/Conductor of The Chamber Orchestra at St. Matthew’s (COSM) and its subscription series, Music at St. Matthew’s.
The orchestra has commissioned and premiered over thirty works by promising young local composers and those with international reputations, including Christopher Tin, Ola Gjeilo, Ross Wright, Tarik O'Regan, Bruce Broughton, Paul Chihara, Roger Bourland, David Newman, Thomas Pasatieri, and Dwayne S. Milburn.
St. Matthew’s Music Guild (MusicGuildOnline.org) is currently in the midst of a 4-year project, funded in part by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, to commission new crossover works to be premiered by COSM. In October, 2013, the Music Guild released a new commercial CD, Music from the Left Coast, featuring four world-premiere recordings of commissioned works by Christopher Tin and others.
Neenan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organ Performance from Cal State Northridge and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Organ Performance Practices and Conducting from UCLA, where he was named an Outstanding Graduate Student. He studied organ with David Britton and Thomas Harmon in the U.S. and Ernst-Ulrich von Kameke and Jean Langlais in Europe.
He teaches a full range of music theory and music history courses at Caltech and has been honored with an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Associated Students at Caltech (ASCIT).
As a recital organist, he has performed in the United States, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Japan, and Switzerland. In 2004 he performed as solo organist on the 1746 Hilldebrandt “Bach Organ” in Naumburg, Germany.
As a conductor, he has led a variety of instrumental and choral ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. He was a conducting fellow under Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival, where he conducted baritone Thomas Quasthoff and the Festival Chorus in portions of Haydn’s Creation, and he has led performances by the Choir of St. Matthew’s Parish in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, and throughout the British Isles.
Neenan has contributed scholarly essays and articles to a variety of professional journals on topics ranging from Gregorian chant to the organ music of György Ligeti. He has received research grants to study and write on performance practices in the organ music of Dietrich Buxtehude, music and culture in the Dutch communities of colonial New York, and music in the monastic community of Taizé, France.