Dr. Thomas Cockrell has served as the Nelson Riddle Endowed Chair in Music, director of orchestral activities and music director of the UA Opera Theater since 2000. In 2011 he was named artistic director of Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a training program and festival for advanced students and young professionals founded in 1950.
Cockrell is equally at home on the symphonic podium and in the opera pit, working with professionals or student musicians. He has conducted the professional symphony orchestras of Dallas, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Tucson, Louisville, Boulder, Orange County and several in Romania, Italy, Mexico and South Korea. He has served as music director of Denver Young Artists Orchestra and interim conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony, two of the premier youth orchestra programs in the United States. Operatic credits include productions for Dayton Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of the Rockies and Washington D.C.’s Summer Opera Theatre. He served as the associate conductor of Cincinnati Opera, Opera Colorado, The Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Spoleto Festivals, where he conducted Menotti’s Maria Golovin, staged by the composer.
Cockrell earned his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University. He studied conducting with Franco Ferrara in Rome and at Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Additionally, he was an Aspen Conducting Fellow and completed advanced training at the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau, France and the Tanglewood Music Center, where he worked with Gustav Meier, Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa.