Michael Thornton

Michael Thornton
Associate Professor of Horn
Brass and Percussion

Imig Music Building
Office C-147

Michael Thornton enjoys a distinguished and varied career as an orchestral performer, chamber musician, soloist and pedagogue. Thornton has performed on six continents with acclaimed ensembles and has presented master classes at prestigious musical institutions, including The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, Rice University, the Royal Northern College of Music (UK) and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (AU).

Thornton holds concurrent appointments as Principal Horn of both the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony. He joined the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 2017, and joined the Colorado Symphony Orchestra during the 1997 season, and in this capacity has worked with renowned classical and popular artists from Yo Yo Ma, Lang Lang and Renee Fleming to songwriter Randy Newman and Phish frontman Trey Anistasio. Before joining the CSO, he left his studies at The Juilliard School to become the Principal Horn of the Honolulu Symphony. Thornton has also performed as a guest Principal Horn with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Korean Broadcast System (KBS) Symphony and Toronto Symphony, and as guest Associate Principal Horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician and a recognized soloist internationally, Thornton has been a featured performer at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (NM), Mainly Mozart (CA), Spoleto (SC), Moab Music Festival (UT), Campos do Jordao International Winter Festival (Brazil), Medellin Festicamara (Colombia), Camerata Pacifica among many others. He performs annually as the Solo Horn of the Washington Island Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin. As a soloist, in addition to his regular appearances with the Colorado Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Thornton has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra (Canada), Melbourne Musician’s Chamber Orchestra (Australia), New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Cape Town Philharmonic (South Africa) and numerous orchestras in the U.S. He has also appeared as a featured artist at several horn symposia, most notably the 40th International Horn Symposium (Denver), the Western US Horn Symposium (Las Vegas) and Hornswoggle (Jemez Springs, NM). Thornton’s recording of horn trios with Andrew Litton and Yumi Hwang-Williams on the Albany label has garnered critical acclaim.

Appointed to the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999, Thornton is currently Associate Professor of Horn. In addition, he serves as a Faculty Artist at the Colorado College Music Festival each June. Thornton holds certification in Mental Toughness Training from the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, and implements this training in his teaching. His students hold positions in orchestras throughout the United States and abroad, and have won numerous awards and competitions. Thornton has twice received the Marinus Smith Award, which is bestowed upon teachers at CU Boulder who have made significant contributions to their students’ development.