Amelia Riley Thornton is a violin and viola instructor, freelance performer, and recording artist. Based out of Missoula MT, she enjoys a vibrant career as a multi-genre musician, specializing in classical, Americana folk, jazz, and rock violin and viola. Amelia provides private instruction through Artwork Strings Studio, has served as an adjudicator for the Missoula County Public Schools’ District Music Festival, has directed the Artwork String Festival, and leads workshops on classical and fiddle styles. She is a member of the Glacier Symphony and performs annually with Festival Amadeus. She is a leading member of The Receptionists, a Missoula string ensemble, and recently was awarded the loan of a Norwegian Hardanger fiddle by the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America.
Thornton received her Masters of Music in Violin Performance at Ohio University, studying under Dr. Solomiya Ivakhiv and Dr. Stephen Miahky. Her studies were fully funded with a Graduate Fellowship. Through her Fellowship, Thornton taught a course on Upper Strings Methods, which sparked in her a passion for teaching. She also served as a violin instructor for the Athens Community Music School and assisted Dr. Beth Braun with an undergraduate/advanced high school orchestra.
She earned her Bachelor of Music with Elective Studies in Business from the University of Puget Sound where she studied violin with Dr. Maria Sampen and Timothy Christie. Thornton’s music business work began in her high school years, and then at only 19 years of age, Thornton was chosen as the Production Manager for the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival. She served WWCMF for its summer and winter festivals for 10 seasons. During her undergraduate years, Amelia studied traditional Irish fiddling with Brendan Mulkere at the Hammersmith Irish Cultural Center in London. She was awarded an Independent Research Grant by the University of Puget Sound to create a documentary film on the state of fiddle music in the Pacific Northwest and served on the board of the Tacoma Philharmonic as a student member.
Thornton worked as the Workshop Manager for Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Bigfork MT, serving two seasons managing Front-of-House, orchestrating workshop classes, and managing events showcasing Festival Fellowship and Scholarship students. Through the Crown Workshop and Festival, Thornton shared the stage with Grammy artist Dweezil Zappa, Kirk Covington, Adam Nitti, Tim Miller, and Kurt Morgan and she worked directly with Grammy award-winning artists Jim Messina, Lee Ritenour, and other guitar greats.
In the classical realm, Thornton has performed with the Missoula Symphony, Helena Symphony, Bozeman Symphony Ohio Valley Symphony, River Cities Symphony, Ohio University Symphony, Sound Stage Rhythm Orchestra (Portland OR), University of Puget Sound Symphony and String Orchestra, and Montana All State Orchestra.
As a teacher, she has worked as a Camp Counselor for the San Francisco Ballet School and for Center Stage Strings Music Camp. In 2009, Thornton led her own 3-day fiddle workshop for high school students in Kalispell, Montana.
In her personal life, Thornton is a talented silk painter and likes to spend her free hours on hikes in the mountains of Montana, traveling to foreign countries, taking long cross-country road trips and stopping along the way to jam with musician friends.