Thollem McDonas is a composer, pianist, improviser, teacher and writer. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of Irish and Cherokee descent. At the age of five, he began studying the keyboard repertoire from the medieval to the 20th century and studied with many notable teachers including Aiko Onishi and Lou Harrison. After graduating with degrees in both piano performance and composition, he dedicated his 20s and 30s to grassroots political activism. In 2005, he refocused his attention on a breadth of musics that incorporate his myriad experiences and curiosities. In this last decade alone, he has played well over 1,000 concerts throughout North America and Europe as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of musicians, dancers, and filmmakers. As leader or co-leader, he has released almost 50 albums in that span on 19 different vanguard labels to international critical acclaim.
“Thollem is an astounding pianist who understands the huge scope of the instrument” (Terry Riley) and who continues to delve into the furthest reaches and sub-genres of Post-Classical, Free Jazz, Noise, Punk, dance and film