Kelland Thomas

School: College of Arts & Letters
  • B.S. in Computer Science, University of Arizona (2008)
  • D.M.A. in Saxophone Performance, University of Michigan (1997)
  • M.M. in Music Theory, University of Michigan (1997)
  • M.M. in Saxophone Performance, University of Michigan (1995)
  • B.M. in Saxophone Performance (with Honors), Michigan State University (1994)
General Information

Dr. Kelland Thomas is a musician, artist, researcher and educator. Prior to his appointment as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), he served as Interim Director of the School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts (SISTA) at the University of Arizona (UA). At the UA, he was part of a team that planned and implemented a new interdisciplinary academic unit, the School of Information.

Thomas' research interests include computational creativity, artificial intelligence, creative coding, and generative music composition. His primary sponsored research as PI is MUSICA (MUSical Improvising Collaborative Agent), funded by DARPA (Communicating with Computers, DARPA BAA-15-18). MUSICA has received international press from Tech, and the Guardian UK, among others. His research team also develops interactive virtual reality environments for education and research applications. Recently, his team received a grant to migrate Bryan Carter's Virtual Harlem project (recently featured in the Atlantic Monthly Online) to the open source Unity 3D game engine.

An active performing saxophonist, Kelland Thomas has recorded CDs under his own name, with fusion ensemble Sylvan Street, and with the Original Wildcat Jass Band. He has played with such luminaries as Rufus Reid, Jimmy Cobb, Jimmy Heath, the Manhattan Transfer, David "Fathead" Newman, Diane Schuur, and alt-rock band Spoon. He has recorded for the Summit Jazz, AUR, New Vintage, Mode, and Albany labels.

As a classical and contemporary artist, Thomas has premiered over 40 new solo and chamber works for saxophone. Since his debut with the Houston Symphony in 1993, he has performed as a soloist and with ensembles throughout the U.S. and in Mexico, Europe, and Asia. As a chamber musician, he has been a prize winner in the Coleman, Carmel, and Fischoff Chamber Music Competitions. He has toured and performed with many saxophone quartets, including PRISM, Resounding Winds, the Michigan Quartet (with Donald Sinta), and the Borealis Saxophone Quartet.