Tom Larson

Associate Professor of Composition, Area Head for Jazz Studies, Steinhart Foundation Distinguished Professor of Music
Area of Focus: Composition, Emerging Media Arts, Jazz Studies

Tom Larson is an Associate Professor of Composition (Emerging Media and Digital Arts) at the Glenn Korff School of Music. At the GKSoM, Tom has taught courses in Film Scoring, Digital Audio Recording and Production, Jazz History, Rock History, and Jazz Piano. His current course work includes teaching Film Scoring and Creative Sound Design, Digital Audio Recording/Production, and private Composition lessons. He is also Director of Jazz Studies and serves as Music Director and Composer in Residence for the UNL Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

Before becoming a faculty member at UNL, Tom was the co-owner of Studio Q Recording in Lincoln, producing music for TV and radio advertising, industrial videos, and documentary films. Among his credits are the scores for three documentaries for the PBS American Experience series (a production of WGBH-TV, Boston): In the White Man's Image, Around the World in 72 Days, and Monkey Trial (which won a 2002 Peabody Award). He also scored the documentaries Willa Cather: The Road is All for WNET-TV (New York), Ashes from the Dust for the PBS series NOVA, The Art of Dissent for Fox Hollow Films, and the PBS specials Standing Bear's Footprint, Most Honorable Son, and In Search of the Oregon Trail. One of his most recent film scores was for The Art of Dissent for Foxhollow Films, which won the Best Feature Documentary Award at the 2020 Big Apple Film Festival. Tom has written extensively for the Nebraska Public Media, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and the University of Illinois Asian Studies Department. His music has also been used on the CBS-TV series The District. His commercial credits include music written for Phoenix-based Music Oasis, LA-based Music Animals, Chicago-based Pfeifer Music Partners, and General Learning Communications and advertising agencies in Lincoln and Omaha.

As a recording engineer, Tom has worked on numerous projects as tracking, mixing, and/or mastering engineer for artists such as Paul Barnes, Jackie Allen, Hans Sturm, François Rabbath, Diane Barger, Hannah Huston, Korean singer/songwriter Jandy Shin, The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, The Concordia String Trio, Jonathan Scales, and others.

He has released two albums of original jazz compositions, Flashback (2003), and Focus (2019), two solo piano albums, 328: Solo Piano Improvisations (2023), and The Gift (2022), and two collaborations with bassist Hans Sturm, A Day in Paris (2013), and Remote Possibilities (2022). He studied jazz piano with Dean Earle, Fred Hersch, Bruce Barth, and Kenny Werner, jazz arranging with Herb Pomeroy, and music composition with Robert Beadell and Randall Snyder. In addition to performing with jazz ensembles throughout the Midwest and East Coast, he has performed with The Tokyo Brass Art Orchestra, Paul Shaffer, Victor Lewis, Dave Stryker, John Ellis, Jerry Bergonzi, Chris Potter, Alex Riel, Howard Levy, Jackie Allen, Bobby Shew, Claude Williams, Bo Diddley, the Omaha Symphony, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, and Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra.

Tom is also the author of five textbooks, The History and Tradition of Jazz (7th ed.), Modern Sounds: The Artistry of Contemporary Jazz (2nd ed.), The History of Rock and Roll (7th ed.), Sound Recording in the 21st Century, and Film Scoring in the Digital Age, all of which are published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing (Dubuque, IA).

A Lincoln native, Tom received a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also an avid runner and completed the Boston Marathon in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Honors and Awards

2023 Steinhart Distinguished Professor of Music
2020 Hixson-Lied Junior Faculty Achievement Award in Research and Creative Activity
UNL Parents Association Recognition Award, 2020, 2015, 2014
2014 Lincoln Arts Council Mayors Artistic Achievement Award – Performing Arts