Michael Thornton

Principal Horn

Michael Thornton is recognized for his noble tone and his “sureness of technique, pitch, breath control, and articulation across the entire range of the instrument that are truly amazing” (Fanfare Magazine). He enjoys a distinguished and varied career as an orchestral performer, chamber musician, soloist, and pedagogue. Michael has performed on six continents with acclaimed ensembles and has presented master classes at the world’s most prestigious musical institutions.

As an orchestral musician, Michael Thornton currently holds the position of Principal Horn with both the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony. Between these ensembles, he has worked with many of the greatest artists from Yo-Yo Ma to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. In addition to these positions, Michael has performed, toured and recorded as a guest with the Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, KBS Symphony (South Korea), Toronto Symphony, and many others. Prior to his current positions, Michael Thornton left his studies at The Juilliard School to become Principal Horn of the Honolulu Symphony.

An avid chamber musician and a recognized soloist internationally, Michael Thornton has been a featured performer at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (NM), Mainly Mozart (CA), Spoleto (SC), Moab Music Festival (UT), Campos do Jordao International Winter Festival (Brazil), Medellin Festicamara (Colombia), Reno Chamber Music Festival, and more. As a soloist, Mr. Thornton has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra (Canada), Cape Town Philharmonic (South Africa), Melbourne Musician’s Chamber Orchestra (Australia), the New Symphony Orchestra of Bulgaria, and numerous orchestras in the US. He appears regularly as a master clinician and performer at conferences and horn symposia worldwide.

Appointed to the faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999, Michael Thornton is currently Associate Professor of Horn. In addition, he serves as a Faculty Artist at the Colorado College Music Festival each June. Mr. Thornton holds certification in Mental Toughness Training from the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, and implements this training in his teaching. His students hold positions in orchestras throughout the United States and abroad, and have won numerous awards and competitions. Professor Thornton has twice received the Marinus Smith Award, which is bestowed upon teachers at CU Boulder who have made significant contributions to their students’ development.


Set in out of the ordinary locales, SESSION is a unique experience where LACO musicians join forces with compelling composers. Each program is designed to fit the unique properties of a space and test ideas about the relationship between performers and audience.

Sound Investment

Meet the composer, hear excerpts of the score-in-progress and attend a full orchestral rehearsal of the completed work.