Born in Naoussa (Greece). Thanos is steadily achieving recognition to be one of the leading world-class performers of his generation. His rich musicianship and perfectionism have already credited him with the highest praise from audiences and critics. It is his intense musical intuition, flawless technique and personal style in his interpretations that easily captivate the audience. Through his extended devotion to the study of the idiomatic music of Sergio Assad , Thanos achieved to be regarded by the great Brazilian master as a top interpreter of his works. Sergio Assad, between other comments, writes for Thanos: "...An incredible musician and guitarist!..He has total control and understanding of my music!...". Classical Guitar Magazine (Blair Jackson-Nov 2017) refers to him: “...a formidable guitarist!...”. American Record Guide (Kenneth Keaton-May 2012) mentioned: “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 (16yo), 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 (with repertory of the highest difficulty) 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 special prize as the youngest finalist). At that time he performed Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez with such brilliancy, that critics and specialists praised him as an exceptional world –class upcoming guitarist. 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 distinctions 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 prestigious Greek Scholarship Foundation’s fellowship, as well as Robert Nelson’s Scholarship (USA) while attending his post-graduate studies.
Important contemporary composers (S.Assad , G.Drozd , S.Iannarelli - to name a few) have dedicated works to Thanos. He has performed several International and National ‘premieres’ of guitar compositions (works by S.Assad, L.Brouwer, G.Drozd, R.Dyens, S.Iannarelli, J.Clerch, M.Vissorsky, K.Hizaris 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, Christof Esher, Alkis Baltas, 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, Pall Hall–Lincoln Center of NY, Hancock Auditorium (Los Angeles), Queen's Grand Theatre of Zhengzhou (China), Teatro Comico Principal de Cordoba, 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), Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Monterrey (Μexico), Silesian Guitar Autumn Festival -Tychy (Poland), Festival de Cordoba (Spain), Movimento Violao SP (Brazil), Festival Internacional de Volcan – Colima (Mexico), Shenyang International Guitar Festival (China), Larnaca International Music Festival (Cyprus),Gliwice International Guitar Festival (Poland), Yellow River International Guitar Festival (Zhengzhou-China), Zory International Guitar Festival (Poland), Athens Megaron of Music ‘Music Matinees’ (Greece), Thessaloniki Megaron of Music International Guitar Festival (Greece), International Guitar Festival "Sarajevo East" (Bosnia & Hergegovina), ArtFest of AUBG (Bulgaria), Focsani International Music Festival-"Classic for Teens" (Romania), EGTA - Cyprus Guitar Festival (Cyprus), Festival Internazionale "Propatria" - Rome (Italy), Sinaia International Guitar Festival (Romania), Santorini’s International Chamber Music Festival (Greece), “Rhodes International Music Festival” (Greece), Goche Delchef International Guitar Festival (Bulgaria), “Doumbia” International Music Seminars (Greece), Veria Guitar Festival (Greece), Helexpo International Music Days (Greece), “Dimitria” International Festival of Thessaloniki (Greece), Thessaloniki International Guitar Festival, and others.
Beside his performing activities Thanos teaches at the State Conservatory of Greece (Thessaloniki), and as a guest professor at many international music festivals, music schools-universities or summer music academies. For ten years he holded the position of the artistic director at the Municipal Conservatory of Naoussa (Greece). Many of his students have followed successful careers as performers or pedagogists of guitar.
Since 2008 he has intensively devoted himself to the music of the great guitarist – composer Sergio Assad. During the IGF of Volos - Greece (2019), Thanos was honored to participate – as a specialist in S.Assad's music- together with the legendary Assad Brothers at a unique Gala Concert dedicated to the famous Duo and the music of Sergio Assad. During the same year he was also hosted by the composer in the Brazilian TV (SESC TV & Movimento Violao), for a recording and broadcast tribute to his solo guitar compositions. Additively, in January 2022, Thanos recorded “Naousa Concerto” (2021) and “Concerto popular do Rio” (2015) in collaboration with Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra for a recording project for DaVinci Classics (Osaka-Japan). He also premiered “Naousa Concerto “ for Guitar & Symphony Orchestra (which is dedicated to him) at a very special Concert Gala (April 2022) attended by the Greek President, highest officials of the Greek State and Sergio Assad as the honored composer. Mitsalas' recordings include solo guitar music, as well as chamber music works and Concertos by the Grammy awarded Brazilian master. Among other pieces, he has presented world premieres of such important and enchanting compositions like “Naousa Concerto” & “Concerto popular do Rio” for guitar & Symphony Orchestra, Concerto Fantasia “Mikis” for Guitar and Strings, “Eli's portrait”,“Sandy's portrait” and “Seikilos Epitaph's Fantasy”.
Thanos has got outstanding reviews by great personalities of the music world and the press for his recordings which are published by Clearnote (Ohio-USA) and Davinci Classics (Osaka-JAPAN). His Cds include works by S.Assad, J.S.Bach, A.Barrios, N.D'angelo, C.Domeniconi, G.Drozd, E.Gismonti, S.Iannarelli, L.Legnani, M.Llobet, A.Piazzolla, A.Tansman, F.Tarrega, M.C.Tedesco, J.Rodrigo, G.Regondi and A.York. It ss worth to mention that Thanos’s interpretation of Sergio Assad’s Fantasia Carioca (from Cd “Thanos Mitsalas Plays Music By Sergio Assad” - Clearnote 2009) is recommended 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).
He is represented from the prestigious Dan Mac Daniels Management Office (Chicago,IL).