Versatile musician plays varied venues

By Nancy Benet


South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin is an annual interactive festival that draws thousands to hear music, check out films and learn about the latest technology.

For Darian Thomas, a University of the Incarnate Word student, it’s one of the venues he has played.

Thomas, a who senior plays multiple instruments and is part of several different bands, said he was exposed to music at a very young age because both of his parents are musicians. His father played 13 instruments in high school, and became a music producer for a label he started with Thomas’ mother when Thomas was young. His mother sang in the UIW choir as an undergrad, and took Thomas to a few of her classes.

“I did my fair share of singing and performing as a really young kid, but it died down a bit around late elementary school,” Thomas said. “I was watching ‘The Red Violin’ while filling out my middle-school course card, and decided it would be cool to do the kinds of things that the musicians in the movie were doing, so I selected orchestra as an elective and have been playing the violin ever since.”

Today, Thomas is involved with a variety of local music groups. He is directly involved with a Latin-tinged, post-punk group called Femina X, and a postmodern, jukebox-esque, eight-piece band called The Sugar Skulls. He orchestrated Deer Vibes’ indie folk album, is the violinist for the newest SA soul music suite, The Foreign Arm, and is also involved in a Flamenco artist collective called Arte y Pasion in which he plays the violin and composes pieces. Lastly, he formed his own band with his best friend at UIW called Saturn Skies.

“I started getting involved in the local music scene after playing the OK Computer Live Show at The Tobin Center that Youth Orchestra at San Antonio had last year,” Thomas said. “The members of these groups and myself all work towards creating a nurturing and artistically vibrant music scene here in San Antonio.”

Thomas performed last year at SXSW with Deer Vibes at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary to a “more than healthy-sized” crowd, he said.

“Performing in Austin was incredible,” Thomas said. “I think everyone in the band had this collective feeling that what we were doing really meant something, and it felt great to be noticed by the festival organizers. It was a great bonding experience as well for all 15 of us that played the show.”

Thomas said Pyotr Ilyich Tcaikovsky, a Russian composer of the late-Romantic period, is the reason he is a musician now. After finishing his first, second and third movements, Thomas decided he wanted to play, compose, conduct, and bring people together to experience powerful musical moments.

“Music is definitely going to be part of my career,” Thomas said. “I would like my career to involve more forms of art than just music, but as for the music side of things, I would like to be involved in video-game scoring. That is kind of a dream for me.”

Thomas had his composition graduation recital April 2 at the university concert hall. For a composition major, this recital is like a final exam, or dissertation. Every performance and composition major has to have one.

“The recital is so important because it is my way of showing my teachers, peers and friends what I have learned these past four years,” Thomas said. “I put together a program of pieces that I have composed and publicly performed them. It was so great to have so many different forms of my musical self put together in one night for the audience.”