Her sounds of the season

Sequim newcomer Jennifer Thomas releases her new Christmas album, ‘Winter Symphony’

Before creating her fourth album, Jennifer Thomas knew she wanted to create something timeless, especially when it came to a Christmas album.

So with a cup of cocoa nearby and Christmas ornaments on her piano, the Sequim musician worked for a year on reimagining some classics and creating holiday originals for “Winter Symphony,” which releases on Friday, Nov. 20.

The new album is a departure for Thomas, a pianist and violinist, who mostly creates original tunes and albums.

“Christmas music is the kind of music you have to put your whole heart into because it’s a big commitment,” she said. “It’s hard because once you start, you have to do it all year-round.”

Thomas was so committed she drank cocoa year-round and put the ornaments out to set the mood for composing.

“It’s not easy drinking hot cocoa when it was 95 degrees outside,” she said.

“Winter Symphony” features 12 tracks from “Angels We Have Heard on High” to “O Holy Night” to originals “Alleluia” and “Winter Symphony.”

Thomas, a self-proclaimed film score buff, included the theme from “Home Alone” — “Somewhere in My Memory” and “The Ice Dance” from “Edward Scissorhands” because she finds them “epic.”

For her previous albums, Thomas said she normally orchestrates them herself but brought in Glen Gabriel. She includes several collaborators, too, including the Ensign Chorus (recorded at Bastyr Cathedral), soprano Felicia Farerre, violinist Taylor Davis and musicians from The Utah Symphony, Salt Lake City Pops Orchestra and the Chochin Chamber Orchestra.

For December, Thomas plans to perform six shows — two in Salt Lake City on Dec. 4-5, two in Atascocita, Texas, on Dec. 13 and two on Dec. 14-15 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle with the Ensign Symphony and Chorus — that incorporate some music from her new album.

In October, she performed at Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall in New York City as a nominee for her album “Illumination” in the 2015 Enlightened Piano Radio Awards. She won “Orchestra Album of the Year” and that same day “Classical Song of the Year” from the International Music and Entertainment Association.

Composing in Sequim

With another big album on the way, Thomas, a native Washingtonian, said Sequim is exactly where she and her family want to be.

“I get asked that so much,” she said with a laugh.

“My only requirements were I needed a Costco and two-day Amazon Prime shipping. I don’t need a shopping mall.”

Sequim actually has been on her and husband Will’s minds after visiting 10 years ago.

“We went camping and explored everything from Crescent Lake to Cape Flattery,” Thomas said. “We had the best time. We discovered Sequim because it was our grocery stop and we just kept coming back here every summer.”

However, with her husband working long hours for Microsoft, they weren’t sure a move was possible until her music career provided enough stability to focus on music full-time. They moved to Sequim in August.

“It’s a nice sense of validation I’ve gone so far in my career that my husband isn’t working 80 hours for Microsoft,” she said. “He’s home with the kids and we can set our own schedules.”


That do-it-yourself attitude has remained steady for Thomas in her music career as she continues to release her music independently.

With the Internet, living in Sequim can work for an artist, she says, because she and collaborators can send tracks via e-mail.

“Artists don’t really need record labels like they did 20 years ago because of the Internet,” she said.

“When I first started out, I didn’t know how the whole thing worked but the more I got into it, I realized I’d rather be independent and keep all the rights to my music.”

All four of her albums — “Key of Sea,” “The Lullaby Album” and “Illumination” — are independent releases and she’s gained tens of thousands of listeners/fans online mostly through Pandora Radio, she said.

Since training classically at Brigham Young University – Idaho, Thomas said she’s definitely discovered her own voice going from the classical world to something more cinematic.

“I like emotional music and music that makes you feel something inside,” she said. “I try to dial up the epic.”

YouTube is a big platform for Thomas with two new music videos from “Winter Symphony” slated to release around Thanksgiving, “Allelulia” and “Carol of the Bells” in early December.

Music and family

Prior to making “Winter Symphony,” Thomas said she took a year off from music after giving birth to her third son.

She said there was a phase where she tried to keep family and her career separate but after the new baby, Thomas changed her mind.

“I thought hard about it that my mission with my music is to empower women to see that you can go for your dreams and have a family. You don’t have to do either or,” she said.

Thomas said she’s gotten a positive response from people on her blog after making the decision and she continues to release videos and write about parenting and managing her career.

Thomas’ new album also ties into her family’s love of Christmas celebrating both the birth of Jesus and the commercial side, she said.

“(The boys) are into it,” Thomas said. “They start giving us Santa Claus wish lists in the middle of the summer.”

What’s next?

Following the holidays, Thomas plans to score a short film in February before working on scheduling live concerts and creating more music videos.

“Being a mom, I like to perform live but I don’t want to be out touring all the time,” she said. “Music videos are another way for me to perform for the world.”

Her next album, she said, will be more “along the lines of total cinematic feeling with a pop feel.”

For now, she encourages preorders of the “Winter Symphony” at www.jenniferthomasmusic.com.



Jennifer Thomas’ “Winter Symphony”

1. Angels We Have Heard on High featuring The Ensign Chorus

2. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

3. Carol of the Bells

4. Alleluia featuring Felicia Farerre,   The Ensign Chorus

5. Ice Dance featuring The Ensign Chorus

6. I Saw Three Ships

7. Breath of Heaven

8. Theme from Home Alone (“Somewhere In My Memory”)

9. What Child Is This featuring Taylor Davis

10. Silent Night featuring The Ensign Chorus

11. Winter Symphony

12. O Holy Night

Available for preorder at jenniferthomasmusic.com, jenniferthomas.bandcamp.com and at digital music outlets like iTunes, Amazon and Google Play; album releases on Nov. 20.