Lover of Life | Seeker of Meaning | Creator for Justice
Short Biography: Some composers found their love of music hearing Brahms or Beethoven — Thomas (b. 1992) discovered his from the beeps and boops of the Super Nintendo. Thomas composes transformative Holocaust Remembrance opera (Eva and the Angel of Death) and concert pieces remixing live performance with the chiptune aesthetics of retro video game soundworlds. Thomas' research analyzes the representation of gender, race, and religion in video game music and the compositional innovations of Japanese 8-bit era video game composers. Thomas is Assistant Professor of Instruction in Theory & Composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio School of Music.
Thomas B. Yee is:
Lover of Life
Seeker of Meaning
Creator for Justice
Some composers found their love of music at the symphony hearing Brahms or Beethoven – Thomas B. Yee (b. 1992) discovered his from the beeps and boops of the Super Nintendo. Yee's music is described as "modern and fresh, yet somehow familiar," "[mesmerizing] and emotionally charged," "thought-provoking," and "decidedly unique." Premiered by the Density512 Chamber Orchestra, Eva and the Angel of Death: A Holocaust Remembrance Opera is a "compelling musical drama of survival and forgiveness," synthesizing superb vocal writing and masterful orchestration into a "visceral experience" tracing one Holocaust survivor's journey "from the traumatic to the redemptive." As composer and music theorist, Yee removes perceived barriers between highbrow and lowbrow art, acoustic and digital music, and contemporary and retro aesthetics in a relevant, innovative collision of style and technique. Yee is Assistant Professor of Instruction in Theory & Composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio School of Music, where he teaches music theory, aural skills, and electronic composition.
Yee's music of Holocaust Remembrance enacts social justice through building communities around acts of artistic ritual remembrance and telling Holocaust survivors' stories of resistance and resilience. Eva and the Angel of Death presents the remarkable story of Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor who, along with her twin sister Miriam, was subjected to medical experimentation by Dr. Josef Mengele in Auschwitz and discovered healing and self-empowerment through forgiveness fifty years later. As a digital native immersed in the interactive soundworlds of video games, Yee's concert pieces including Concerto Ludus for Piano and Gameboy are an iconoclastic fusion of concert and video game music remixing live performance with the chiptune aesthetics of retro video game soundworlds. Yee's presentations and publications in ludomusicology – the academic study of video game music – have positioned him as a prominent voice specializing in musical identity representation, the innovative compositional techniques of Japanese 8-bit era video game music composers, and the intersection of game music and narrative. Yee's monograph Gender, Race and Religion in Video Game Music (Intellect Books, Fall 2024) analyzes the semiotic representation of social identities including gender, race, and religion in video game soundtracks. Yee's works have been commissioned, performed, and/or recorded by the Density512 Chamber Orchestra, the NOW Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-En, Hear No Evil, Inversion Ensemble, Indiana University Symphonic Band, the University of Texas at Austin New Music Ensemble, and the University of Texas at Austin Wind Ensemble and have been awarded by the ASCAP Foundation, ISCM World Music Days, Hear No Evil, and Voices of Change.
When not composing, researching, and teaching, Yee can be found cooking gourmet home cuisine and facilitating collaborative storytelling experiences in the Tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons. Learn more at thomasbyee.com.