Richard Thompson is a performer and composer whose work encompasses jazz and Third Stream composition. Originally from Aberdeen Scotland, Thompson made his debut as a concert pianist at the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 1984.

Thompson’s recordings include the March 2006 release Poetry Prelude, an album of original compositions on the Visionary Records label, distributed by Albany Records. Poetry Prelude includes his two song cycles: settings of the poetry of Langston Hughes, Dream Variations, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Shadow of Dawn. In 2006 Arabesque Records released Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, a collection of Thompson’s arrangements of well-known spirituals recorded with his New York based jazz group Mirage.

Thompson’s chamber opera, THE MASK IN THE MIRROR—a dramatization of the courtship and marriage of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore—was premiered in 2012 by Trilogy Opera, based in Newark NJ, under the artistic directorship of Kevin Maynor.

Thompson earned his undergraduate degree in music from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, his graduate degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and a jazz diploma from Berklee College of Music in Boston. While at Rutgers University, Thompson studied jazz piano with Kenny Barron and classical piano with Theodore Lettvin.

Thompson is currently Associate Professor of Music at San Diego State University.


The Mask in the Mirror

Release Date: February 8, 2019
Catalog Number: NV6209
21st Century
Composer Richard Thompson’s three-act opera presents the life behind the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the most prominent African American poets of the early 20th Century. This dramatic performance, inspired by the hundreds of letters exchanged between Dunbar and his wife, Alice Ruth Moore, removes the masks of fame and social identity to investigate the psychological realities of the people underneath.