J. Thomas D. Gonder, born in Cayuga, Ontario in 1971, exhibited musical gifts at an extremely early age. He spent most of his life in London, Ontario, his family having relocated there in 1981. Immediately becoming involved in the musical life of St. Paul’s Cathedral, he spent many years there as a chorister, Organ Scholar, Assistant Organist, and Organist and Master of the Choristers. Thomas quickly rose to the forefront of the Canadian Organ scene as one of its brightest young performers shortly after his public debut at the age of 15 under the tutelage of D. Mervyn Games. His teachers, mentors and greatest influences also include David Palmer, Ian Sadler, William S.J. McArton, Catherine Crozier, Simon Preston, Gerald Bales, Naji Hakim and David Briggs.
Thomas has developed a wide-ranging career as organist, accompanist, church musician and composer. Naji Hakim (Paris, France) has described him as "a deeply feeling and emotional player", Simon Preston (Great Britain), "an amazing talent", and the esteemed Canadian musician Gerald Bales, OC, (1919 - 2002) proclaimed him the foremost interpreter of his organ works. Thomas has earned himself a reputation as an exciting, virtuoso performer of distinction in command of a vast repertoire, most notably with the French Romantic and Post-Romantic repertoire, having performed the complete Organ Symphonies of Louis Vierne in 1997 and again last summer at St. James Cathedral, Toronto. Thomas is internationally recognized as a leading interpreter of the organ works of Naji Hakim of Paris, France, the most prolific composer of organ music in the world today. Thomas has premiered much of Mr. Hakim’s work in Canada. In 1995 he gave the Canadian Premiere of ’Vexilla Regis Prodeunt’ at the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary, Alberta. 1997 saw the World Premiere of Gerald Bales’ ’Impromptu-Toccata’ at the closing concert of the Royal Canadian College of Organists National Convention. Thomas has also had numerous works composed for him and recent years have seen two world premieres of works by Parisian composer, Nicolas Chevereau. A composer himself, February 2013 saw the World Premiere of his Missa Transfigurationis by the Canadian Men’s Chorus of which Thomas was Accompanist for four years.
Thomas has plans to record, continue developing his concert career and composing, and pursuing his ardent dedication to presenting new music by young, emerging composers. Thomas currently serves as the Organist and Director of Music at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Islington.
"I am very touched and impressed by your playing and your programming. Your Marche Nuptiale is very beautiful, very well crafted with elegant melodic line as well as warm and bright harmonies. Bravissimo.
Your performances of Pange lingua and Vexilla Regis are superb. When I listen to your playing I say to myself "Here is an artist who understands the very spirit of my music!" ~ Naji Hakim, Sept. 19, 2013