JOHN THORN BIOGS
Small, Medium and Rather Long
JOHN THORN short biog
John Thorn is an Australian composer/pianist/songwrighter/performer and musical director to the stars. He has written 5 musicals, scored many Cabaret/Theatre shows and has an international reputation as an accompanist for Cabaret performers and Impro Theatre, including the shows ‘Spontaneous Broadway’ and ‘Random Musical’ which he also produces. John received the 2015 ‘Outstanding Contribution To Cabaret” Melbourne Green Room award and has another 15 Green Room nominations (winning twice). His recent projects include an original one man show ‘Background Boy’, music for the movie ‘Ali’s Wedding’ and an album of musical settings of Henry Lawson poems called ‘Looking For Lawson’ described by Barry Humphries as ‘Miraculous’. His original jazz combo "John Thorn and The Roses" plays regularly around Melbourne often featuring his daughter Bonnie on vocals.
JOHN THORN medium biog
John Thorn is an award-winning composer, international cabaret performer and musical director. He has 15 Melbourne Green Room nominations (winning twice) and received the 2016 Green Award for “Contribution To Cabaret”.
John has an honours degree in composition from Melbourne University, writing in many styles and forms, including 5 musicals and countless scores for theatre and cabaret shows. His songs are performed around the world from solo artists to 1000 voiced choirs.
He has toured internationally with his original one man show Background Boy (Edinburgh Festival, The Pheasantry London) and scored and accompanied Tom Flanagan's physical comedy show Kaput on multiple North American tours.
Other writing credits include 2 string quartets, compositions for Melbourne jazz bands Neo-Penguin, Miss Dorothy and his fools in love and John Thorn and The Roses and a collection of tangos Impro Tango. He has written for TV and film including the mini musical Saddam The Musical for the 2017 feature film Ali’s Wedding.
John has been musical director for many leading Australian and International cabaret artists including Meow Meow, Bob Downe, Rhonda Burchmore, Barb Jungr (U.K), Le Gateau Chocolat (U.K), Caroline Nin (France), Amy Gordon (U.S) and was assistant musical director on the Australian/Hong Kong tour of Saturday Night Fever. He has recorded albums of original compositions and lounge arrangements of pop songs for the cabaret artist Pastel Vespa for the Spanish label Siesta.
He has an international reputation for his work in Improvised Theatre as accompanist and producer of Spontaneous Broadway (Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh Festival) and Random Musical, along with many years as the Theatresports musician (Victorian Arts Centre).
His current project Looking For Lawson, a collection of musical settings of poems from the great Australian poet Henry Lawson, has been described by Barry Humphries as “miraculous”.
JOHN THORN rather long biog
In 1972 age 7 John Thorn was taken to a Camberwell Grammar school concert (where his father was the school Chaplin) and immediately taken by the precociously talented student/singer/pianist Nigel Kellaway. Piano lessons with Nigel followed until John moved to Carrum in 1974 where he soon began composing. At 13 he was the resident church organist and was a professional musician by 16. At 17 he was running his own wedding band (at the 3rd best Reception Centre in Frankston) and had founded the original jazz band NEO-PENGUIN who played around Melbourne offering up post bop, free jazz and torch songs.
He studied Organic Chemistry and Maths at Melbourne Uni while composing scores for revues and plays, conducting Trinity College musicals and reforming the Melbourne Uni Jazz club. He starting singing his own songs in cabaret shows and in 1986 became the THEATRE SPORTS musician at the Victorian Arts Centre. The same year Neo-Penguin released their record HEAVEN AINT WHERE I'M GONNA GO with 5 of his compositions. In 1987 John was the musical director/composer for the Melbourne Uni Revue (starring Mick Molloy) and began a Composition degree graduating in 1990 with honours. His teachers at the Conservatorium were Peter Tahourdin and Brenton Broadstock and his final thesis was on the late songs of George Gershwin. He also joined the popular cabaret band MISS DOROTHY AND HIS FOOLS IN LOVE contributing arrangements and original songs.
In 1991 John began performing with singer Fiona Curnow. They married in 1993 and worked together composing and producing shows including original musicals IN CABARET (co-written with John Molloy), ALL HET UP and SILLY SEASON (both co-written with Guy Rundle), KISS OF DEATH (co-written with Kate Schmitt) cabaret shows THE MONTE CARLOS (with Simon Palomares and David Cotter) MAX GILLIES: LIVE AT CLUB REPUBLIC, FAIS MOI MAL JOHNNY (songs of Boris Vian), HE DRANK TOO MANY CIGARETTES (songs of Serge Gainsbourg) and DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO IPANEMA (Bacharach and Jobim). As CONFUCIUS' CRAYON they were the opening band at the legendary Bennett's Lane Jazz Club and as FIONA THORN AND THE CAMELIA QUARTET they opened another famous Melbourne club The Night Cat and released a CD of original songs FRANK on the OrigIn label. In 1997 they began working with BOB DOWNE (aka Mark Trevorrow), John as musical director and Fiona as her new alter ego cabaret invention PASTEL VESPA. As Pastel Vespa John, Fiona and Gavin Cornish constructed retro lounge arrangements of pop/rock classics releasing the EP SEVERAL SHADES OF PASTEL on the OrigIn label and full length CDs L'ANARCHIE DANS L'UK and TAKIN' THE BACK ROADS on the Spanish Siesta label achieving international notoriety. In 1997 their daughter Lyla was born with Bonnie following in 2001.
Since 1992 John has worked with the leading corporate Improv theatre group TROUPE DU JOUR (with Russell Fletcher, Chris Keogh, Carole Patullo and Andrew Bayley) around Australia and overseas. On a trip to San Francisco in 1999 (en route to a gig at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas) he was introduced to the improv musical format SPONTANEOUS BROADWAY, originally invented in New York by Kat Koppett. He obtained the Australian rights and with Russell Fletcher produced the first season at the Melbourne Fringe in 2000 winning the "Palme De Broadway" award. Spontaneous Broadway has had many seasons since including a sold out 2 week season at the Sydney Opera House and performances at the Famous Spiegeltent at Melbourne, Adelaide and Edinburgh Festivals. The cast included Australia's leading improvising comedians such as Julia Zemiro, Geoff Paine, Genevieve Morris, Ross Daniels, Scott Brennan, Rik Brown, Emily Taheny, Gillian Cosgriff and Rebecca DeUnamuno and guests have included Shaun Micaleff, Gerry Connally, Julia Morris, Colette Mann, Eddie Perfect, Cal Wilson and Colin Lane. In 2010 John invented the improv format RANDOM MUSICAL designed for younger audiences. It had its first season at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and subsequent seasons at the Sydney Opera House (nominated for Sydney Theatre Awards best children's theatre 2013) and Taranaki Festival amongst others.
John has enjoyed a long and productive association with the world famous Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Since performing ALL HET UP in 2003 he has musically directed 25 shows accompanying international artistes (Meow Meow, Caroline Nin, Amy Gordon, Bob Downe, Jason Kravits), local stars (Mike McLeish, Michael Dalley, Tommy Bradson, Fiona Thorn, Paul McCarthy) and musically directing special tribute concerts (James Bond songs, Henry Mancini, Reg Livermore, 27 Club, Kurt Weill). In 2016 he finally got the opportunity to accompany himself in a solo show BACKGROUND BOY singing recent songs John had composed with lyricist Chris Keogh. The show also featured John and Fiona's daughter Bonnie on trumpet and vocals and John has performed the show at The Pheasantry in London in March 2018.
In 2016 John was awarded the Melbourne Green Room "Contribution To Cabaret" award. John has 14 Green Room nominations winning twice for musical direction for Mark Trevorrow's IT'S ABOUT TIME and Tommy Bradson's SWEET 16 BIRTHDAY PARTY MASSACRE and has been a Green Room Cabaret panelist and panel chair. He has collaborated with many artists composing scores for Jim Lawson's INCONVENIENT FRUIT, Tommy Bradson's PIRATE RHAPSODY MERMAID REQUIEM (best Cabaret Melbourne Fringe 2011), Michael Dalley's URBAN DISPLAY SUITE and MADEMOISELLE, Daniel Tobias's ORCHID AND THE CROW, Gavin Macleod's AVERY & THE EXOTIC BIRD EMPORIUM, Frank Woodley's NOODLENUT, Andrew McClelland’s WE REALLY MUST DO THIS AGAIN SOMETIME and Tom Flanagan's KAPUT which John has accompanied around Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. He also rearranged and musically directed Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado for Colin Lane and David Collins THE 3 MIKADOS.
In Musical Theatre John was assistant music director for the Australian and Hong Kong tour of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and played keyboard on productions of BILLY ELLIOT and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. He has musically directed Trinity College productions of THE MIKADO, THE BOYFRIEND and GREASE and the VCA Music Theatre course production of OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR.
In theatre John has scored many productions including MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE and THE SILVER SWORD.
On television John was music director for the D-GENERATION late night chat show pilot on Channel 9, music director for Foxtel's COMEDY SLAP DOWN, musician on Channel 7 YOU MAY BE RIGHT, composer for ABC THE VULTURE and Channel 9 KINGS OF COMEDY as well as appearances on GOOD MORNING AUSTRALIA and THE BIG GIG.
On radio he was music director on THE GREAT RADIO NATIONAL QUIZ on ABC RN and DJ'd jazz and blues shows on 3CR and 3RRR in his student days.
In film John was Score Editor for David Hirshfelder on ELIZABETH (1998), and composed the mini musical "Saddam Hussein The Musical" featured in ALI'S WEDDING (2017).
His musical output has covered many genres including a collection of 25 tangos called IMPRO TANGO and a 5 movement String Quartet 5 BEACHES OF HINDMARSH inspired by the work of 5 visual artists working at Lake Hindmarsh in Western Victoria.
In May 2013 John and Fiona separated and later that year John and his father took a trip through Western New South Wales retracing the steps of Australian poet Henry Lawson. With events planned along the way and knowing little of Lawson's work John set a few poems to music as his offering. The positive reaction led John to eventually write 20 songs with Lawson poems as lyrics. He presented them as a song cycle LOOKING FOR LAWSON which premiered in Bourke, NSW in September 2014 as a part of the Festival Of 1000 Stories. It has enjoyed successful seasons since at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2015 (specially chosen by director Barry Humphries), Bella Union at Trades Hall, Lorne Festival, Brunswick Music Festival, Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, Fringe World in Perth and a tour of Queensland.
His current jazz outfit JOHN THORN AND THE ROSES have performed at the Stonnington Jazz Festival featuring selections from his very vast original repertoire. He has arranged many of his songs for 17 piece Big Band and plays regularly with the B SHARP BIG BAND.