GDYO definitely had an impact on my career.
GDYO is where I developed my love for playing in an orchestra.
Hailed for her “verve and pizazz” and the “gleaming purity” of her artistry by the Miami Herald, Ebonee Thomas is Second Flute and Piccolo of The Dallas Opera. She has previously served as Principal Flute of the Knoxville Symphony and the Florida Grand Opera, and spent one year as Second Flute of the Houston Symphony. In addition she has performed as Guest Principal Flute with the Seattle Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, and the Fort Worth Symphony. Ebonee has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Oregon Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Detroit Symphony and Dallas Symphony.
Ebonee completed a four-year fellowship with the prestigious New World Symphony under the direction of Michael Tilson-Thomas. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall, she was a featured soloist under Tilson-Thomas, performing Joan Tower’s Flute Concerto and the North American premiere of Christian Lindberg’s flute concerto, The World of Montuagretta.
Along with performing orchestral repertoire, Ebonee is an avid chamber musician, applauded as a “standout” by Theater Jones in her latest performance for the Fine Arts Chamber Players. She performs regularly with the Austin Chamber Music Society and Voices of Change, a new music ensemble in Dallas, TX. She was a finalist for the Austin Arts Awards for her performance of Valerie Coleman’s Danza de la Mariposa, for solo flute. Ebonee has been a member of the Firebird Ensemble with Seraphic Fire and can be heard on several of their released recordings including The Brandenburg Project. Ebonee had the rare opportunity to perform John Adams’ Chamber Symphony in Carnegie Hall under the composer’s baton. She also served as Principal Flute of the Star Wars in Concert! Orchestra during their U.S., Canada, and Mexico tour and was Principal Flute of the American Repertory Theater’s revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
As a passionate pedagogue, Ebonee maintains a full studio of students from beginners through adults and also serves on the faculty at Brookhaven College in Dallas, TX. Along with all of her musical endeavors, Ebonee serves as a member of the board of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras and is on the National Advisory Board of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program.
Ebonee received her Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance degree from Southern Methodist University and received her Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music. Her principal teachers Jean Larson Garver, Claire Johnson, Helen Blackburn, and Fenwick Smith. Ebonee plays on a silver .16 wall Brannen Brögger flute with a platinum Mancke headjoint and a Burkart Elite Piccolo.
What was one of your favorite GDYO memories?
Going on the France Tour. I ended up studying abroad in Paris because of that tour!
Tell us about your education after graduating from GDYO.
I went to SMU and studied music and business. I studied in Paris my senior year. I studied French, Flute, Architecture, and Art History. I went to graduate school at the New England Conservatory of Music.
What factors should prospective music students consider when choosing a school? Is there anything you wish you knew before pursuing a musical career?
For undergrad, I think that your private teacher is most important. Pick a teacher that you know will push you and help you succeed. A lot of times people see the word conservatory and automatically assume you will get the best education. Most of the time this is the case, but if you choose a teacher that is not the right fit then it is all for nothing. If you are a performance major, choose a teacher with a heavy performance background. Same with being a soloist or an educator. Your teacher should reflect whatever career path you want to take. For graduate school, I think there are more requirements. Teacher of course is important, but again if you want to be a performer pick a school with lots of performance opportunities (ie. orchestra, chamber music, etc). I think it’s also important to pick a school in an area where you have opportunities outside of school to perform and also hear great ensembles. This is important in case you end up building your career in that very city. You can get ahead while you are in school and set up a nice foundation.
Do you feel that GDYO had an impact on your career? How so?
GDYO definitely had an impact on my career. GDYO is where I developed my love for playing in an orchestra. Also, as I stated before, GDYO was the very reason that I ended up studying abroad. It also provided me with a high level of playing experience that you often do not get in school.
Tell us about your career – what are you currently up to? What achievements are you most proud of and why?
I am currently a member of the Dallas Opera. I also love teaching and have a full studio which includes an adjunct position at Dallas College at Brookhaven. I have previously been a member of several organizations including the New World Symphony, Houston Symphony, Florida Grand Opera and Knoxville Symphony. I travel around and play with various orchestras throughout the country as well. I would say I am most proud of being a teacher. I have had some of the most amazing teachers in my life and it is a privilege to be able to pass on that knowledge!
What unique challenges and rewards have you experienced as a professional musician?
I have faced many challenges throughout my career. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you realize that many decisions made have nothing to do with your playing. There are many biases and the classical world can be quite discriminatory. With that being said, for every bump in the road I have had, there have been many incredible experiences. One of the most rewarding experiences was my time spent with the New World Symphony. It is a wonderful organization (just like GDYO) and I grew so much as a musician. They really push the boundaries of classical music and I felt very prepared for the real world once I left. Another rewarding experience that has left me with nothing but fond memories was performing on tour with Star Wars in Concert! We toured all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. We performed for 10,000+ fans screaming at the top of their lungs every night for months. It’s the closest I will ever come to feeling like a rock star! I have been very fortunate to have built my career solely around music. I will never take it for granted and will always be grateful.
Tell us about some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future.
My biggest goal for the future is to never stop learning, never stop growing. If you ever think you’ve got it all figured out it may be time to do something else. I want to continue traveling the world and meeting people from all walks of life while eating delicious food!Who or what inspires you? In all honesty, my students inspire me. They inspire me to continue learning just as they are so that I become a better flutist and a better teacher. And they will benefit most from that.
Who or what inspires you? In all honesty, my students inspire me. They inspire me to continue learning just as they are so that I become a better flutist and a better teacher. And they will benefit most from that.
Any hobbies, fun facts, or life highlights outside your career you’d like to share? I am a huge nerd. Haha. I am a closet bookworm. Right now, I am really into non-fiction. I taught myself how to code during the pandemic too! I am a foodie, I love foreign languages, and I love traveling. My friends get a kick out of this fun fact. I have a very hard time blowing out birthday candles! A recent travel highlight was going to Machu Picchu in Peru. It was an experience I will never forget!
What advice would you give to current GDYO kids? A piece of advice I would give to current GDYO members is to have no regrets. That sums up everything. You do not want to look back 50 years from now and wish you had done something you didn’t think you were capable of. If you want to go to Harvard, apply. Take that big audition. Travel the world. Work hard but also play hard. Life is all about balance.
THANK YOU TO EBONEE FOR BEING A PART OF GDYO’S ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT! For more information about studying with Ebonee, visit her website at https://www.eboneethomas.com
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW WOULD BE INTERESTED IN SHARING THE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION REGARDING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE GDYO ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, CONTACT CHARILYNE ROJAS-SIEGEL AT CHARILYNE@GDYO.ORG.