Thomas Dvorak is Professor Emeritus/Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he served as Professor and Director of Bands from 1979 until his retirement in 2007. He served as Music Director of Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Wind Ensemble from the ensemble’s inception in 1988 until 2018. He currently serves as the organization’s Conductor Laureate.
Professor Dvorak has had a very distinguished career, appearing as a conductor/guest lecturer in 29 states as well as Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. In November 2007, he served as the headliner/lecturer for the Manitoba Canada Province Music Educators Conference. He became the first American conductor to serve at the University of Lauceston’s Summer Music School in Tasmania, Australia, where he also performed as Principal Trumpet in the faculty brass quintet in 1994.
He has received numerous awards, including an “Outstanding Secondary Educator of America” award in 1974 for his distinguished work with the McFarland, WI, band program, and he has received the “Citation of Excellence” by the National Band Association six times for his achievements and contributions to bands. He has twice been honored by the prestigious American School Band Directors Association for lectures he has presented at two of their national conventions, in Duluth, MN, and in Brookfield, WI. His former conducting students now hold prominent positions in our nation’s middle and high schools, college and professional conducting positions, with youth orchestras and with the United States Service Bands.
Professor Dvorak is the author of many articles concerning repertoire, composers and conducting. He is the senior author of a repertoire series for school bands entitled “Best Music for Beginning, for Middle School, and for High School Band.”
He has held offices as President and Vice-President in both the College Band Directors National Association and the National Band Association. His leadership and commitment to the profession have involved him in changing, promoting and elevating music education and performances for students and bands/wind ensembles of all ages, and at all levels of performance.
In September 2004, Professor Dvorak was honored by the Instrumentalist Magazine, with a cover photo and interview discussing his music making and philosophy of teaching. This past year, Professor Dvorak was honored by having a doctoral dissertation written on his life as a conductor and educator.
Researched and written by Dr. Scott Corley of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, the dissertation is housed in the library collection at the University of Iowa.
In July 2014, he was honored with the Austin Harding outstanding achievement award for his contributions in the development of American school bands at the 60th annual convention of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA).
At UW-Milwaukee, a scholarship for music students bears his name, and each year a deserving freshman is awarded with this prestigious scholarship.