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."

Latest Posts

Stronger Self Image for Columbus
Letter to Columbus: Save Your Symphony
Why I Am a Classical Musician
Teaching a Beginner Masterclass
How to Play True Legato
Organic Rhythm
Trying Out New Equipment
...but I'm with the conductor!
Music Making versus Playing
Musicians are Territorial Animals

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Symphony Board Losing City's Respect

The Columbus Symphony board and management has canceled the lucrative summer Picnic with the Pops series, citing lack of funds.

It should be known that the Summer Pops pays for itself in revenue. So why cancel it? Whatever the twisted intent, it has little to do with “saving the Symphony”.

The move may be an attempt to corner the musicians into signing an insulting contract which sends the Columbus Symphony back to the dark ages.

My guess is that the public already senses the perfidious deception behind Buzz Trafford’s public pontificating that the board’s hands are tied and the musicians just refuse to cooperate. This drastic and defeatist move will further weaken public respect for the current Symphony Board of Trustees.

I had lunch today with a few reporters from the Dispatch who listened intently to my point of view. I emphasized that the musicians are VERY interested in negotiating, but not in being told what they MUST accept without question or DIE.

Among other things, these reporters have been informed that the musicians initiated “good faith” bargaining steps by offering to take some pay cuts, but were rebuffed; they have been told that we called for a mutually chosen mediator, an unbiased third party professional to monitor the negotiations, to which the answer came back from management, “NO!”.

We’ll see if the Dispatch squeaks any balanced truth in tomorrow’s paper.

I told them that if they Symphony dies, it won’t be the musicians fault. These gentlemen were baffled by our unanimous rejection of management’s insulting demands. Our solidarity truly perplexed them.

I believe the musicians’ consciences are clear. We are rational people. We’ve been reasonable. We’ve been patient. We’ve been polite and considerate. Understanding the seriousness of the situation, we have communicated our intent to compromise and our desire for professional mediation.

But we are not dealing with reasonable people, or being given fair and balanced coverage. So, what do we do now?

I will not presume to speak further for my colleagues. But I think many of them would agree with the following thoughts:

For years now, the Columbus Symphony has existed as two very different organizations.

One has been the actual orchestra itself, which has developed into a world class musical organization with an outstanding conductor and players. The Symphony Chorus has risen with the orchestra. Through education and outreach, thousands of lives have been enriched. Concert reviews have been rave, and audiences love them.

The other less visible part of the Columbus Symphony has been its Board of Directors and executive management. Unlike the orchestra, the board and management have been a dismal failure, unable to reach their own stated goals and mismanaging the administration and budget, resulting in losses.

Each time this has happened, rather than doing some soul searching about its own shortcomings and ongoing inability to maintain this pristine jewel in the crown of Columbus’ fine culture, the board and management have instead sought to dump their failures onto the backs of the musicians themselves. In the last contract go-around, management had a 15% loss, and the orchestra accepted 15% pay cuts with promises that management would do better this time. That hasn’t happened. Yet, the Columbus Museum raised an $80 million endowment and Nationwide Arena was built without tax funding. Columbus can accomplish great things with the right leadership.

This year seems to be no different, only management has gone public trying to brand the musicians as offenders that “don’t understand the reality of the situation.” Instead of self-selecting and leaving so that others may succeed where they have failed, they have entrenched themselves in a senseless campaign to crush the orchestra. The only reality here is that Buzz Trafford and the board and management don’t know how to run an orchestra, and instead are trying to point the blame somewhere else.

When a baseball team is losing, who gets fired - the players or the manager?