Dr. James Thompson

​Professor of Music Instructor, Music Department Director, Ankeny
Concert Choir performing under the direction of James Thompson

James Thompson holds a Bachelor of Music from Cornell College, a Master of Music from Boston University, and Doctor of Musical Arts from University of Iowa. He came to DMACC in 2018.

Thompson’s passion for music forms the foundation of his life, both in and out of the classroom. An accomplished performer, Thompson sings regionally with numerous opera companies and professional organizations. Roles have included Frederic in Pirates of Penzance, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Alfredo in Die Fledermaus, Alfredo in La Traviata, Roméo in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, and a personal favorite, Tony in West Side Story.  He also enjoys singing concerts and oratorios, especially as the tenor soloist in Händel's Messiah.

Thompson frequently serves as guest clinician and adjudicator for both high school and collegiate vocal music programs.  He previously served the Iowa Choral Director's Association, chairing the Treble Clef Repertoire and Resources division.  He regularly performs with Iowa opera star and DMACC professor, Simon Estes, on his Roots and Wings tour concerts.

Thompson’s academic interest focuses on the vocal music of Vincenzo Bellini and discovering the pedagogical connections between Bellini's operatic and non-operatic music.  His doctoral dissertation on this subject was selected for review and a summary abstract was published in the Journal of Singing. 

As a choral conductor, Thompson enjoys programming diverse literature from a wide variety of cultures and musical eras.  Through the process of selecting and rehearsing the choral literature, he remains focused on the goals for the ensembles.  "As director, I must be constantly mindful that I work to expand the overall musicianship of the individual singer, and I must facilitate the development of the individual singing voice."  Thompson believes that in working towards these goals, the ability of the choir rises as a whole. 

There are many important lessons one learns through music study, he says. One is the importance of community. “Musical excellence depends on the ability to build relationships with whom we musically collaborate, and that depends on a strong community bond.”

Another is self-improvement. “If one decides to pursue something, be it a career, a hobby, a sport, then they owe it to themselves to strive to achieve the highest level possible,” Thompson said.  “This takes hard work and discipline, but the satisfaction of realizing one's improvement is well worth the effort. I often tell students that I personally don't believe in musical perfection, but I believe in the pursuit of musical perfection.

Under Thompson’s leadership, DMACC created a pathway for students to complete a four-year degree in music. They can begin their music training at DMACC and directly transfer to Grand View University to complete their degree.  But the biggest advantage students have is the opportunity to be a part of a music program devoted to serving each student and their individual goals, Thompson says.

“I am committed to developing complete and well-rounded musicians. I strive to create a fun and welcoming environment and increase each student’s individual abilities as a singing musician.”

Away from DMACC, Thompson enjoys spending time with his wife Maria and daughters, Lindsey and Claire. They enjoy gardening, landscaping, and yard work and are sports enthusiasts, especially the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Contact James Thompson at:
jlthompson25@dmacc.edu, (515) 964-6633

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