David H. Thomas has been an orchestral clarinetist for 25 years. Additionally, he is also an experienced soloist, with numerous critically acclaimed performances.

Starting his performing career directly after undergraduate studies, he won a position with the Greensboro Symphony in 1982. The next year he was offered the principal position of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra in Washington, DC. The grueling demands of opera and ballet repertoire honed his skills as a versatile player. In 1989, he won the principal clarinet position of the Columbus Symphony in Ohio.

A noted orchestra among several giants in Ohio, the Columbus Symphony had its Carnegie Hall debut in 2001. The review was glowing.

For the past 16 years David has impressed audiences with his music making, both as orchestral and solo performer. Columbus Dispatch chief critic Barbara Zuck offered these comments in a 1994 review of Thomas' rendition of Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations:

"Thomas, ...has steadily grown in stature and confidence. Even so, I'm not sure anyone was prepared for the absolutely bravura display of virtuosity Thomas delivered last night. Who would have expected him to emerge as the clarinet equivalent of Cecilia Bartoli? I don't recall a bigger or better reception for any artist, anywhere."

From an April 30, 2005 review of the CSO in a concert of opera overtures and tenor arias, Zuck noted: "(Thomas) had as many great lines as the singer, and his brilliant performances once again reminded us how his playing has spoiled us over the years."

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Entertaining the Conductor

The other night we had a pops concert, a tribute to Arthur Fiedler. The program style reflected his unique balance of light music with one substantial classical piece. We played about a half hour of “medium” light classical, some Wagner overtures and a Puccini Arias arrangement for orchestra. After an intermission, we played the entire Tchaikovsky violin concert, a hefty chunk of music for a pops audience. Then came another intermission. Yes, two intermissions. At the Boston Pops, much of the audience is set up at tables, so they can eat and drink during the concert. Then two intermissions make sense. Anyway, onward.

The third half was all schlock. “Fiddle Faddle”, a tough little bugger, especially at the caffeinated tempos our conductor likes. Then a piece for typewriter and orchestra, very cute. Our principal percussionist dressed as a sleazy secretary, with a blue beehive wig and a cigarette hanging out of his/her mouth. The typewriter was the real thing, a heavy, old battle ax. The part was mostly the ticking of the keys, inter-spaced with the ripping of the carriage and the infamous little bell to warn you to return the carriage. Fun.

Anyway, one of the traditions of Fiedler was to spontaneously insert an encore in the middle of the third half. Our conductor warned us. On Saturday night he decided to do it. The piece was “Stars and Stripes”. My music had gotten shuffled into the mix of everything in my folder, and I couldn’t find it. He started the piece, as I frantically looked for the part. Bum, bum-t-um tum, tum-tum-tum-tum-tum-TUM! The music started. I’ve played it many, many times, but in different keys, and with different repeats, etc. It’s not an easy piece, and I don’t have it memorized. So I kept looking. It wasn’t there. I thought someone had played a joke on me, but our orchestra doesn’t play jokes, they just get even. I started at the beginning of the folder and turned each piece over. I’m right in the middle of the orchestra, dead center, in sight of all. There I am calmly (now I know all are looking at me, so calm is the key) paging through my music…The piece is not that long, so it’s about a third over…and finally, there it is, hiding between Fiddle Faddle and Buglers Holiday. I knew it, it was a conspiracy between the string and the brass! Anyway, I dove in and played the rest.

After the concert, as I walked out of the hall, the conductor happened to see me, and laughed as he said, “Dave, I had so much fun watching you frantically looking for your music during the march. Thanks for breaking the monotony and making me laugh!”

I smiled. At least someone enjoyed it.