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John Ashton Thomas

Tue 12 October 2021

Trinity Laban and Manners McDade announce with great sadness the news that our dear friend, colleague and Trinity Laban alum John Ashton Thomas died on Monday 4 October. John had been on the teaching staff for Trinity Laban since 1992 and was the longest serving member of the Composition Department.

Having orchestrated over 150 films, it is no exaggeration to say that he was one of Hollywood’s top orchestrators, working on films from the Marvel, Bourne, Hunger Games, Ice Age and Star Wars franchises to name but a few, and for many years, those lucky enough to attend the Oscars would hear John’s orchestrations as part of the ceremony. His commercial composition was equally extensive, writing a vast collection of library music and producing themes for numerous programmes and series.

A true polymath, John was also a fine jazz pianist and was equally adept in writing jazz and orchestral music. His concert works have been widely performed including Iona Elegy: The Four Roads for the BBC Concert Orchestra at the 2018 Proms. Originally a chorister himself, his Nunc Dimittis is one of many works in which he combined his mastery of jazz, classical and choral techniques and was recorded by Mark Lockheart and the boys of Temple Church Choir.

His teaching experience was extensive: in addition to his work at TL he taught in the Jazz Department of the RAM for 10 years. He was awarded an honorary ARAM in 2004 and an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity Laban in 2019 alongside film composer John Powell with Paul Mounsey, Gavin Greenaway and Emlyn Singleton, all five having studied together at Trinity College of Music in the 1980s.

He is irreplaceable and will be missed terribly by us all.