Born in Naoussa (Greece) Thanos Mitsalas is steadily achieving recognition to be one of the greatest virtuosos of his generation. He has earned highest praise from audiences and critics for his superb musicianship and inspired artistry. It is his intense musical intuition, flawless technique and personal style in his interpretations, that easily captivate the audience. American Record Guide (Kenneth Keaton-May 2012) wrote: "Mitsalas's playing is excellent...His technical command and sense of invention and expression are impressive!" Sharon Isbin (Head of the guitar department at The Juilliard School) said for him: "Thanos has a brilliant virtuoso technique and an excellent musicianship - truly an extraordinary talent! His playing is of the highest professional caliber..." Reviewer Glyn Pursglove from MusicWeb International Magazine wrote for Thanos's solo Assad cd release: "Everywhere one senses a vitality of personal commitment and disciplined freedom in his interpretations. Thanos is an impressive soloist!...". Timothy Smith (Oct 2014) at minor7th mentions: “Mitsalas marries all of the elements of great classical guitar playing: enormous and evocative tonal range, world-class command of the instrument, and a unique and defining musical voice….Mitsalas' newest offering, entitled "Contemplation", is quite simply one of the finest recordings I've encountered in my decade of writing reviews.”
Thanos started music lessons at The New Conservatory of Thessaloniki where he graduated with the highest honours in 1989, supervised by the eminent guitar soloist and professor Costas Cotsiolis. He attended post-graduate studies in Hochschule fur Music Cologne/Aachen with professor Thomas Muller Pering (graduated in 1994 with the highest honors) and finally at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York with professor Sharon Isbin, where he was honored to get a full scholarship from the institute, evaluated as one of its most brilliant talents.
During his graduate studies he also attended several master-classes with important masters like Leo Brouwer, Pepe Romero, David Russel , Roberto Aussel and others.
He recorded a complete solo recital for the Greek National Radio Television Network at the age of 14 and made his debut as an orchestral soloist at the same age, as well. His international debut came two years later in Poland, where he achieved to be the youngest prize winner ever (16yo) at the Silesian Guitar Autumn Contest (2nd prize and audience prize). At that time he performed Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez with such an exceptional brilliancy, that critics and specialists praised him as one of the most important world –class upcoming guitarists. The same step toward international recognition was followed again two years later in 1990, where he was again the youngest winner ever (18yo) at the Carrefour Mondial de la Guitare Competition in Martinique (France). Thanos won several other prizes and dinstinctions at important international contests like Stotsenberg (Parkening) International Guitar Competition (USA), Volos International Guitar Competition (Greece),and Sinaia International Guitar Competition (Romania) among others. He was also awarded the prize ‘musician of the year’(1988) from the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki and received “Dimitris Sgouros” scholarship during his studies. Also won the Greek Scholarship Foundation’s fellowship the most prestigious in Greece, as well as Robert Nelson’s Scholarship (USA) while attending his post-graduate studies.
He has performed several International and National ‘premieres’ of guitar compositions (works by L.Brouwer, S.Assad, R.Dyens, J.Clerch, C.Domeniconi, L.Nieto among others) and repeatedly recorded for Greek and foreign International Radio and TV networks. In 1990, after he’d won the International Guitar Competition in Martinique he earned the privilege to perform the ‘premiere’ of the French composer Luc Nieto’s guitar work ‘Le yeux de Num’ in three countries : Greece – Volos International Guitar Festival (1991), Cuba – Havana International Guitar Festival (1992) and Martinique – Carrefour Mondial de la Guitar (1992). Thanos has also performed as a soloist with several European Symphony Orchestras and ensembles (Silesian Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Music Academy ‘Franz Liszt’-Budapest, Symphony Orchestra of Zabrze, Sofia String Quartet, State Symphony Orchestra of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki Symphony Orchestra, etc), conducted by such important musicians like Leo Brouwer, Theodoros Antoniou, Josif Conta, Emir Saul, Jan Wincenty Hawel, Alkis Baltas, Christof Esher, Carolos Trikolidis, Slawomir Chrzanowskiego, Dimitris Agrafiotis and others.
Thanos has performed in many prestigious music halls like Alice Tully Hall – Lincoln Center of NY, Merkin Hall – NY, Amadeo Roldan Auditorium – Havana, Pall Hall–Lincoln Center of NY, Athens Concert Hall (Megaron of Music), Thessaloniki Concert Hall (Megaron of Music), etc. He has a wide experience in directing courses and serves as a jury member in several international guitar competitions, as well as frequently performs in important guitar festivals and musical events like Aspen Music Festival (USA), Carrefour Mondial de la Guitar (Martinique), Volos-Naxos International Guitar Festival (Greece), Silesian Guitar Autumn Festival -Tychy (Poland), Festival de Cordoba (spain), Athens Megaron of Music ‘Music Matinees’ (Greece), Larnaca International Music Festival (Cyprus), Zory International Guitar Festival (Poland), Thessaloniki Megaron of Music International Guitar Festival (Greece), ArtFest of AUBG (Bulgaria), Sinaia International Guitar Festival (Romania), Santorini’s International Chamber Music Festival (Greece), International Music Festival of Rhodes (Greece), Goche Delchef International Guitar Festival (Bulgaria), “Doumbia” International Music Seminars (Greece), Helexpo International Music Days (Greece), “Dimitria” International Festival of Thessaloniki (Greece), Thessaloniki International Guitar Festival (Greece), Veria International Guitar Festival (Greece) and others.
Beside his performing activities Thanos is currently teaching at The State Conservatory of Thessaloniki and The Conservatory of Northern Greece. He is the Director of the Municipal Conservatory of Naoussa. Many of his students follow succesful careers as guitar performers and pedagogists.
Since 2008 he has intensively devoted himself to the music of the great Brazilian guitarist – composer Sergio Assad. So far, he has recorded four albums which include solo guitar music, as well as chamber music works with guitar by the Grammy awarded Brazilian master, while two of them exclusively devoted to his enchanting musical idiom. Thanos has also recorded works by J.S.Bach, N.D'Angelo, C.Domeniconi, E.Gismonti, S.Iannarelli, L.Legnani, M.Llobet, A.Piazzolla, A.Tansman, F.Tarrega, M.C.Tedesco, J.Rodrigo, G.Regondi and A.York for ClearNote (USA). His solo recording of Sergio Assad's "Fantasia Carioca" (from CD "Thanos Mitsalas plays music by Sergio Assad- ClearNote 74412) is included in Enrique Robichaud's book "Guitar's top 100".
Thanos is a D’Addario Artist/Ambassador. He uses EJ46FF Pro-Arte (Dyna/Carbon) strings on his 1999 Thomas Humphrey Guitar (Millenniun Model/Spruce-top).