Musician, educator, researcher Dr. Thomas Johnston's work lies in those spaces between Irish traditional music, performing arts for children and young audiences, community music, and music education practice and policy. In 2016, Thomas was a recipient of the Arts Council's Next Generation Bursary Award.
In recent years, Thomas has gained expertise as a musician in the area of music for young children. He has recently worked, for example, with organisations such the National Concert Hall, University of Limerick, Music Generation, Common Ground, Music Network, and Early Childhood Ireland. Other related work includes designing and facilitating music workshops at The Ark (‘Tiny Traddies’, ‘Circus Sounds’, and ‘Small Sounds’), and designing professional development workshops for various early childhood care and education providers. Most recently, Thomas collaborated on 'Pop Up Picnic', an interactive and immersive multi-sensory performance for very young children with Helium Arts in partnership with the Jack and Jill Foundation.
As Artistic Director of Ceol Connected, Thomas recently produced Tradoodle Festival, Ireland's first traditional arts festival for young audiences. Ceol connected has also created and toured several traditional music and theatrical productions for young audiences including: 'The Quiet Tree and the Creatures of Whistleberry Forest', ‘The Far Field', ‘The Wonderful Tune’, and 'Return of Spring'.
His PhD (funded by the Irish Research Council at the University of Limerick, 2013) entitled ‘The Bloom of Youth’ was an investigation into the place of Irish traditional music in post-primary music education in Ireland. In 2015, Thomas completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship with Music Generation (Ireland’s National Music Education Programme) in partnership with St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra. The report entitled ‘Possible Selves in Music: The Transformative Potential for Children and Young People of Performance Music Education underpinned by Principles of Diversity’ was published in 2016.
His most recent recording endeavours includes composing, directing, and recording a musical score for 'Béal na Farraige', a short-film project with Púca Puppets and Beyond the Bark (in development), recording with Kathleen Turner for her debut EP 'Some Stories', and with Síle Denvir’s ‘Caithréim: Ceol agus Amhráin ó Dhrámaí an Phiarsaigh’