Michael Thornton enjoys a distinguished and varied career as an orchestral performer, chamber musician, soloist, and pedagogue. Thornton has performed on five 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).
Michael Thornton joined the Colorado Symphony Orchestra as Principal Horn 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 and the Toronto Symphony, and as guest Associate Principal Horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
An avid chamber musician and a recognized soloist internationally, Michael 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), among many others. He performs annually as the Solo Horn of the Washington Island Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin, and will serve this season as hornist with the Camerata Pacifica Chamber Ensemble in Southern California. As a soloist, in addition to his regular appearances with the Colorado Symphony, Thornton has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra (Canada), Melbourne Musician’s Chamber Orchestra (Australia), and numerous orchestras in the US. 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).
Appointed to the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999, Michael 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.