Biography

Thales is currently studying law at the University of Texas at Austin where he is a Teaching Quizmaster (TQ), Co-president of the Environmental Law Society, and an Articles and Notes Editor on the editorial board of the Texas Environmental Law Journal. His interests include water, land use and management, and the interface between public and private entities.

Prior to law school, Thales worked part-time for the Save Our Springs Alliance (SOS), a non-profit dedicated to protecting Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. At SOS, he organized the first two annual Barton Springs University events which featured speakers on the geology, biology, and water policy of the Barton Springs watershed and hosted over 400 high-school students. He also conducted in-depth research of the legislative intent of Texas’s 1917 “Conservation Amendment,” which is the enabling constitutional language for most water-management districts in the state. His paper on this research is currently under consideration for publication by the Texas Water Journal.

Thales received a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Guitar Performance and a Bachelor of Art degree in Plan II Honors at the University of Texas at Austin. Thales’s Plan II Creative Thesis, “From the Bones of Wolves: Guitar Music from the Southwest United States,” received a second prize in the 2015 George H. Mitchell Student Awards for Academic Excellence, UT’s most prestigious interdisciplinary awards for undergraduate research.

During his undergraduate studies, Thales was a member of the UT Guitar Quartet, which established itself as one of the best young guitar ensembles in the nation. The UTGQ twice won its division of the only national classical guitar ensemble competition in the country and was one of two featured university ensembles in the Guitar Foundation of America’s 2013 Ensemble Showcase concert. In Spring 2015 the Board of Regents of the UT System recognized the quartet’s work with the prestigious Regents Outstanding Student Award in the Arts and Humanities. In addition to performing with the UTGQ, Thales transcribed pieces by Mozart, Faure, and Liadov for the quartet.

Thales began studying the classical guitar at age 7 with Dr. Matthew Hinsley, Executive Director of Austin Classical Guitar. Thales has had masterclasses with over twenty-five classical guitarists including Pepe Romero, David Russell, Paul Galbraith, Eliot Fisk, Xuefei Yang, and Kazuhito Yamashita. In 2009, he engaged in one week of intensive study with the Peruvian virtuoso Jorge Caballero.

As a young competitor, Thales took first prize at the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Youth Competition in 2006 and the American String Teachers Association’s National Solo Competition Junior Guitar Division in 2009. In 2008 he was named a Texas Young Master by the Texas Commission on the Arts and Texas Cultural Trust and was consequently awarded a three-summer scholarship to further his study of the classical guitar. That same year, guitarist and composer Mark Anthony Cruz dedicated his piece Triptych No. 2 to Thales.

Thales has performed extensively in Texas and around the country. In 2007, Thales was featured on NPR’s From the Top broadcast nationwide from a performance in Bethesda Maryland’s Music Center at Strathmore, and in 2010 Thales was featured as a New Young Artist at the Victoria Bach Festival for which he performed a feature concert and six outreach concerts in the Victoria community.

Thales is a passionate advocate of classical music and shares his love of music with the community on a regular basis. Thales has extensively performed outreach concerts in the Austin area in schools, retirement homes, churches, parks, and museums. He has also taught music appreciation classes in the Austin Public Libraries, at the Texas Classical Guitar Camp, and at the Austin School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In April 2014, Thales taught a class titled “The Classical Guitar: Its Music, History, and Culture” for UT Informal Classes.

To contact Thales, please send him an email at t@thalessmith.com.