John Thomson began playing with the Nelson Symphony Orchestra in February 2009, having returned to New Zealand after 25 years in the USA, where he gained his doctoral degree in violin performance and taught violin at universities. He has performed with numerous orchestras in the USA, and appeared as soloist and recitalist throughout North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe and before dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II and former President George Bush.
Critics have praised him as a “stellar soloist” with “brilliant technique and appealing cantabile” and have called his playing a “rare treat.” Other press reviews state: “The audience was in awe of Thomson’s performance”, “Thomson’s performance of Wieniawski was a highlight of the season”, and mentioned “the highest classical style.” Italian violinist Franco Gulli wrote to John after a performance “I have admired your remarkable facility in performing the music of Paganini.” After a recent recital in Seoul, Korea, a reviewer wrote: “his playing was full of great sonority combined with a tender sweetness that tugged at the audience’s heart.” John has published his arrangement of some music of the romantic Norwegian violin virtuoso, Ole Bull and has written articles on the music of Tartini, Viotti and Joachim. John is also considered to be an expert on Gypsy violin music.
John has enjoyed a variety of musical experiences, including the standard classical repertoire, but also frequently accompanying many celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and Bernadette Peters, and acting the part of musical characters in Hollywood movies. In addition to his performances on violin, he plays baroque violin, viola d'amore, and viola. In 2005, he became the first to record on the violotta, an unusual German instrument developed around 1880. He is featured on four compact disc recordings available through Albany Records and AK Coburg and may be seen in a clip playing violotta in the Andromeda-Saal, Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, Germany.