Thomas Turner joined the Minnesota Orchestra as principal viola in 1994 and served more than two decades in the principal role before moving into the core of the section in 2017. In 2008 he was featured in performances of Berlioz’ Harold in Italy. With former Concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis, he presented the U.S. premiere of the Britten Double Concerto in 1998 and gave repeat performances in 2001. His other solos include Michael Tippett’s Concerto for String Trio and Orchestra in 2000, Bartók’s Viola Concerto in 2003 and, in 2005, the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Concerto for Viola and Clarinet with then-Principal Clarinet Burt Hara. He recently returned to the Minnesota Orchestra after serving for more than one year as the San Diego Symphony’s acting principal viola.
In March 2012 Turner collaborated with Music Director Osmo Vänskä and pianist Susan Billmeyer in performing Aho’s Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano on the Chamber Music at MacPhail series; the same players recorded that work on a BIS album that also included Aho’s Clarinet Quintet, featuring Turner, Vänskä and principal players from the Orchestra. Turner played Brahms’ Second Piano Quintet and David DeBoor Canfield’s Maesta on the Orchestra’s MacPhail series in May 2012.
Turner regularly performs at the Aspen Music Festival and in past summers has taught and performed at the Round Top Festival in Texas, Oregon Bach Festival and Music in the Vineyards (Napa Valley) Festival. He also performs frequently in chamber music concerts and is a member of the Hill House Chamber Players.
After graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Joseph DePasquale, Turner began his career in Germany. From 1981 to 1983 he served as principal viola with the Varga Chamber Orchestra and the Hof Symphony. In 1983 Turner won the principal viola position with the Berlin Radio Symphony, staying with that orchestra until 1994, when he returned to the United States to take up his present position.
Turner was the winner of a 2004-05 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians.