Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Thollem McDonas
Thollem McDonas (b. 1967- US) is a perpetually traveling musician, sharing his time between North America and Europe, performing/recording as a soloist and in collaboration with many other individuals and groups, as well as leading large ensemble improvisation workshops, listening meditations/walks and master classes. His music is diverse, approaching each concert and project uniquely, resulting in dramatically new and different outcomes.

Not long after birth, Thollem began studying the keyboard repertoire from the medieval to the 20th century. With degrees in both piano performance and composition, he stepped from the concert pianist trajectory to dedicate his time to grassroots political movements and ecological restoration projects. In 2005, he returned to music as his full focus, incorporating his experiences into his compositions, improvisations and teaching.

Thollem has performed piano concertos with symphonies, played in West African drumming troupes, Javanese gamelan ensembles, punk bands, with many free improvisation groups, and as a “comproviser” for modern dance and film. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange. As a writer, his essay, Deep Listening and the Peripatetic Life of an Improvising Musician, was written specifically for An Anthology of Essays on Deep Listening (Deep Listening Institute, 2012) in honor of master musician Pauline Oliveros‘ 80th birthday.

Musical collaborators include, in no order of importance:
Stefano Scodanibbio, Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Pauline Oliveros, William Parker, Amy Denio, Brian Chase, Arrington de Dionyso, Jad Fair, John Dieterich, LaDonna Smith, Faruq Z. Bey, Vinny Golia, Ava Mendoza, Tatsuya Nakatani, Rent Romus, Jacopo Andreini, Gino Robair, Jon Raskin, Edoardo Marraffa, Stefano Giust, Joel Peterson, Alex Cline, Theresa Wong, Jack Wright, Greg Saunier, Laura Ortman, John Butcher ...

Film makers include:
Martha Colburn, Matthew Barney, Peter Sparling, Tuia Cherici, Carlos Sandoval and David Latreille ...

Dancers (dance companies) include:
Germaul Barnes (Bitahkiz Ayeli), Gary Masters, Limón West Dance Company, Peter Sparling, Viewsic Expressions, Black Bones, San José Cleveland Ballet ...

Past workshops include:

Music Conservatory of Thessoloniki, Greece; University of Ohio, USA; Trasporti Marritimi Festival, France; Portland State University, USA; Gap, France; Dublin, Ireland; CalArts, USA; San José State University, USA; Centr'Arti, San Marino; High Mayhem, New Mexico, USA; Fylkingen, Stockholm, SE; Orchestra Libertad, Oaxaca City, Mexico. Improvisation methods utilized in both the Cologne School of Music and the Paris Conservatory by Stefano Scodanibbio

American Music Center: CAP, 2010 - 'Stirring Awake' - debuted at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation: USArtists, 2009 - Estamos Ensemble, Director
Meet the Composer: Creative Connections, 2007


Trio Music Minus One
(For Dennis Palmer)
Gino Robair, Drums/percussion
Thollem Electric, Rhodes/analog effects
Setola di Maiale (IT, 2014)

Impulsive Machinations:
Conformity Contortion
Sara Lund, Drums
Thollem Electric, Rhodes/Analog effects
New Atlantis Records (US, 2014)

The View From Up
Marco Rogliano, Violin
Francesco Dillon, Cello
Daniele Roccato, Bass
Thollem McDonas, Piano
Setola di Maiale (IT, 2012)

Dub Narcotic Sessions
Brian Chase, Drums
Thollem McDonas, Piano
New Atlantis Records (US, 2014)

Thollem Electric's Keyngdrum Overdrive: WITH!
(in order of appearance): Csaba Csendes - Drums, Dave Wayne - Drums, Raven Chacón - Drums, Lisa
Schonberg - Drums, John Niekrasz - Drums, Heather Treadway - Drums, Ian Kerr - Timpanies, Brian Chase
- Drums, André Custodio - Drums and Miles Rozatti - Drums
Union Pole Tapes (US, 2013)

Soar Trio: Emergency Manager Heist
Skeeter C.R. Shelton, Sax
Joel Peterson, Bass
Edgetone Records (US, 2013)

Estamos Trio: People's Historia
Carmina Escobar, voice and electronics
and Milo Tamez, drums
Relative Pitch Records (US, 2013)

Bad News From Houston: In The Valley Of The Cloud Builder
With John Dieterich (Deerhoof)
Post-Consumer (US, 2013)

Dear Future,
solo plus friends
(Archive recordings from 1982 - '89)
Wild Silence (FR, 2013)

Surprising Wooden Clocks
The Whistling Joy Jumpers
Jad Fair (Half Japanese)
Brian Chase (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Thick Syrup Records (US, 2013)

Read Between the Lines ... Think Outside Them
Post-Consumer Records (US, 2013)

You Are Always On Our Minds
The Hand To Man Band
Post-Consumer Records (US, 2012)

Polishing The Mirror
Amirani Records (Italy, 2012)

The Imagination Liberation Fronts Thinks Again
Post-Consumer Records - digital (US, 2012)

Ten Thousand Tigers
With Arrington de Dionyso
Bandcamp (US, 2012)

Thollem/Parker/Cline: The Gowanus Session
With William Parker and Nels Cline
Porter Records (US 2012)

Jimpani Kustakwa Ka Jankwariteecherï
Estamos Ensemble
Edgetone Records (US, 2011)

On Debussy's Piano And...
With Stefano Scodanibbio
Die Schachtel (Italy, 2010)

Gone Beyond Reason To Find One
Solo Piano
Edgetone Records (US, 2010)

All For Now
Bad News From Houston
Dromos Records (Portugal, 2010)

Private Poverty Speaks To The People Of The Party
ESP-disk (US, 2010)

Noble Art
With Nicola Guazzaloca
Amirani Records (Italy, 2009)

Sudden Aurora
Bloom Duo
Edgetone Records (US, 2009)

Naked Future
ESP-disk (US, 2009)

Intuition, Science and Sex
With Arrington de Dionyso
Edgetone Records (US, 2008)

Prismatic Season
Bloom Ensemble
Edgetone Records (US, 2008)

Racingthesun Chasingthesun
Solo Piano
Creative Sources (Portugal, 2008)

Somuchheaven Somuchhell
Solo Piano
Saravah (France, 2008)

Two Revolutions
BoxDeserter Ensemble
Edgetone Records (US, 2008)

The Brutal Reality Of Modern Brutality
Edgetone Records (US, 2008)

Poor Stop Killing Poor
Solo Piano
Edgetone Records (US, 2007)

Bloom Ensemble
Edgetone Records (US, 2007)

Sono Contento Di Stare Qua
With Eduardo Ricci
Edgetone Records (US, 2006)

I'll Meet You Halfway Out In The Middle Of It All
With Rick Rivera
Edgetone Records (US, 2006)

Everything's Going Everywhere
With Rick Rivera
Edgetone Records (US, 2005)

Nuclear Bomb, Cave Painting
Solo Piano
Pax Recordings (US, 2005)
Thollem McDonas at Jazzores Festival, Teatro Micaelense, Ponta Delgado, The Azores, Portugal More info:
Thollem McDonas and Alex Cline at Royal/T Summer, 2011
Thollem Electric on Rhodes and pedals interacting with Jesse Gilbert's realtime visualization software "Spectral GL" which combines 2D and 3D visualizations with real time audio/camera/kinect feeds.
Pauline Oliveros, Susie Ibarra and Thollem McDonas at The Stone, NY, NY Aug. 21, 2012
CDs on which Thollem McDonas appears:
Thollem McDonas, Rent Romus - Bloom Project Sudden Aurora
Artist: Thollem McDonas, Rent Romus - Bloom Project
Title: Sudden Aurora
Label: Edgetone Records EDT4083
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records EDT4083
Thollem McDonas solo piano
Artist: Thollem McDonas
Title: solo piano
Label: Pax Recordings PR90279
Label page on this site: Pax Recordings
Pax Recordings PR90279