Alan Thomas was born in Atlanta, and began his guitar studies with Gus Toole and John Sutherland, before going on to earn the Master of Music degree under the direction of Ernesto Bitetti at Indiana University. A research fellowship at the University of California at San Diego enabled him to carry out additional studies with Scott Tennant and the composer Brian Ferneyhough.
Based in England since 1997, he has pursued an active career as a recitalist and concerto soloist, performing in the U.K., Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Bulgaria, Turkey and the USA, both in concert series and international festivals including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh Festival, Spitalfields (London), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Bath Guitar Festival, Rotterdam Music Biennial, Oxford Contemporary Music Festival, New Music Nights (Bratislava), Electric Spring (Huddersfield), Gaudeamus Festival, Ultima (Oslo), GAS (Gothenberg), Witten New Music Days, Berlin Festival, Voix Nouvelles (Royaumont), Brighton Festival, Hoxton New Music Days, the Guitar Foundation of America Festival and the South Bank Centre's International Guitar Festival. As a concerto soloist, he has appeared with the Nieuw Ensemble, Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Exposé and Kantak.
In 1997, Alan Thomas won first prize in the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in Holland (becoming the only guitarist ever to do so). He has also been a top prize winner in the Guitar Foundation of America and MTNA competitions. In 1995, as winner of the American Artistic Ambassador Competition, he toured throughout Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Armenia under the auspices of the U. S. Information Agency, performing recitals and with orchestra and teaching masterclasses throughout the region. Particularly dedicated to contemporary music, Alan Thomas has given world premières of over forty works written especially for him, including concerti by Gabriel Erkoreka and Gerardo Dirié and solo/chamber pieces by Ed Bennett, Donald Bousted, Laurence Crane, Paul Davies, Gabriel Erkoreka, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, Petros Ovsepyan, Alwynne Pritchard and Ian Willcock.
Also active as a chamber music performer, he has performed and recorded with the ensembles Apartment House, Ensemble Exposé, Endymion, Gemini, Topologies, Lontano, Ensemble Corrente, Ixion and the Duke String Quartet. His performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio France, as well as on television and radio in the United States, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Armenia and Latvia, and have been recorded on compact disc on the Accord, Metier, NMC, Matchless Records and Vivi Records labels. He has taught at the University of California and Trinity College of Music, and is currently on the faculties of Ratcliffe College and Trent College.