Conducting Biography

American conductor Thomas Shoebotham has impressed both audiences and critics with his performances of a wide range of repertory, displaying strong musicality, versatility, and “masterful command of pacing, dynamics, and color.” Equally at home on the concert stage and in the opera and ballet pit, he conducts frequently with professional, community, and youth ensembles, collaborating with notable singers, dancers, and instrumentalists to bring “rousing, colorful” presentations to a variety of audiences.

Shoebotham is currently Principal Conductor for The New Ballet in San Jose, where he conducts the annual production of the San Jose Nutcracker, as well as other works. Previously, from 2006-2018, he was Music Director of Palo Alto Philharmonic, where he gained recognition for creating compelling concerts that featured both traditional masterpieces and newer works by various current composers, including Chris Theofanidis, Roberto Sierra, Stephen Paulus, Lee Actor, and Jennifer Higdon. In addition, he has conducted numerous other orchestras in both the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, including Peninsula Symphony, the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra, Albuquerque Philharmonic, Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, and the Rio Grande Chamber Symphony.

As an opera conductor Shoebotham has conducted performances with Opera San José (Les Pêcheurs de Perles), Lyric Theatre of San Jose (Iolanthe), West Bay Opera (The Last Tycoon), Emerald City Opera in Steamboat Springs (Le Nozze di Figaro), Berkeley Opera (Otello, Béatrice et Bénédict, Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Cosí fan Tutte, and L’italiana in Algeri), Opera on Tap San Francisco (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Verismo Opera (Otello).

Prior to his position with Palo Alto Philharmonic Mr. Shoebotham was Assistant Conductor of Peninsula Symphony in San Mateo, California.  During this time he conducted numerous works on the orchestra’s classical and pops concerts, presented all of the orchestra’s family concerts, and filled in for the ailing principal conductor with no rehearsal at a subscription concert to great critical acclaim.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Shoebotham holds a B.M. in Cello Performance from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he was awarded a M.M. in Cello Performance and Literature. Returning to Albuquerque, he again studied at the University of New Mexico, earning a M.M. in Orchestral Conducting, while also serving as a conductor, coach, and pianist with the UNM Opera Theater. He has appeared as a cello soloist with several orchestras in the San Francisco Bay Area and performed many solo and chamber music recitals in California, Illinois, and New Mexico. As a pianist he has collaborated with many singers and instrumentalists and served as accompanist for numerous concert and opera choruses.

When he isn’t making music, Mr. Shoebotham is an avid hiker and photographer, and also greatly enjoys swing dancing and tennis.