The American baritone, Sumner Thompson, studied at the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. Among his many awards and distinctions, he is the winner of the 1995 Atlanta Pro-Mozart Society Competition, the Willi Apel Scholarship at Indiana University in 1997, and the 1999 Indiana University Early Music Institute Concerto Competition, for which he was the only singer to ever be accorded this honor. In 2003, he placed as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He was also twice a semi-finalist in the New York Oratorio Society Competition.
Sumner Thompson’s appearances on the operatic stage include roles in productions from Boston to Copenhagen, including the Boston Eearly Music Festival's productions of Johann Georg Conradi's Ariadne (2003) and Lully's Psyché (2007) and several Eurpoean tours with Contemporary Opera Denmark as Orfeo in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. His appearances in Chicago Opera Theatre's productions of Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice and Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims were universally praised. He also appeared in recital at the Goethe Institut in Boston and at the Star Island Artists Retreat in New Hampshire, and made his third European tour as Orfeo in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo with Contemporary Opera Denmark. He has performed across North America as a soloist with many leading ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, Boston Baroque, Boston Early Music Festival, Emmanuel Music, Handel and Haydn Society, Britten-Pears Orchestra, Concerto Palatino, Les Boréades de Montréal, Les Voix Baroques, Mercury Baroque, National Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, the King's Noyse, the symphonies of Charlotte, Memphis, and Phoenix, and many other ensembles and orchestras of both conventional and early music inclinations.
Sumner Thompson has appeared with Boston Baroque (as Pallante in George Frideric Handel's Agrippina), the Boston Early Music Festival (Boston's Florestan Recital Project, Pittsburgh's Bach and Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, Apollo’s Fire (as Pilate in a staged version of J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)), Emory Chamber Music in Atlanta, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (in B. Britten's Cantata Misericordium), the Masterwork Chorus (in G.F. Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall), the National Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Arts Society of Washington at the Kennedy Center (in Finzi's In terra pax), the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (in Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem), Camerata Pacifica (as La Discorde in Charpentier's Les Arts Florissants), Paul Hillier in Bloomington, Indiana (in J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) and St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244)), and NYS Baroque in Ithaca, New York, (as Zebul in G.F. Handel's Jephtha). Other recent concert performances included a return to the Boston Early Music Festival in concert with the King's Noyse; La, Schaunard in a concert version of La Bohème with the Newton Symphony Orchestra. He debuted with Intermezzo as the Ferryman in the 2006 production of B. Britten's religious parable Curlew River. He returned n January, 2011 for Dominick Argento's The Andree Expedition.
Engagements in 2005-2006 season included J.S. Bach's Cantatas with Boston's Florestan Recital Project (October 2005), Pittsburgh's Bach and Baroque (November 2005), Early Music Vancouver (December 2005), and on tour with Apollo’s Fire (March 2006). He also appeared as guest soloist performing songs by B. Britten with the Emory Chamber Music in Atlanta (February 2006). He returns to Boston Baroque as Pallante in G.F. Handel's Agrippina (October 2006) and debuted with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra as soloist in B. Britten's Cantata Misericordium (May 2006).
Highlight's of Sumner Thompson's 2008-2009 season include J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with Tafelmusik, Dietrich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu nostri with Les Voix Baroquesand Houston's Mercury Baroque, W.A. Mozart's Requiem at St. Thomas Church in New York City, a tour of Japan with Joshua Rifkin and Cambridge Concentus, and a return to the Carmel Bach Festival. in Copenhagen, Uberto in La Serva Padrona with Apollo’s Fire, The Traveller in B. Britten's Curlew River with the Britten-Pears School in Nagaoka, Japan, and at the Aldeburgh Festival in the UK, Schaunard in La Bohéme with the Granite State Opera, and the count in W.A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with the Commonwealth Opera.
Engagements in 2012-2013 season include G.F. Handel’s Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society, J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (BWV 245) with Orchestra Iowa and Switzerland’s Gli Angeli Genève, a return to Early Music Vancouver’s summer festival with Les Voix Baroques, and Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
A noted recitalist, Sumner Thompson has performed in Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Regensburg, and at London's famed Wigmore Hall with the late Leonard Hokanson, Alison d'Amato, and Tobias Hartlieb. As a favorite in top tier early music circles, he has appeared at the Boston Early Music Festival in concert with the King's Noyse and as the satir in J.G. Conradi's Ariadne, as well as in concerts with the Festival Baroque Orchestra and Concerto Palatino. He has also appeared at guest artist at the San Francisco, Regensburg, and Bloomington Early Music Festivals.
Hailed as "the real thing" by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and praised for his "elegant style" by the Boston Globe, Sumner Thompson continues to be lauded by audiences and music cognoscenti alike. His impeccable technique, beautiful sound and elegant musicianship are quickly making him one of the most sought after young baritones in this country and abroad.
Sumner Thompson records for the Harmonia Mundi USA, Dorian and Arsis labels. He can be heard on the Boston Early Music Festival’s Grammy-nominated recording of Lully’s Psyché on the CPO label, and with Les Voix Baroques on Canticum Canticorum, Carissimi Oratorios, and Humori, all on the ATMA label.