1997 graduate, Ebonee Thomas
Life After GDYO, with Ebonee Thomas
Current member Karan Coimbatore interviewed alumna and future board member Ebonee Thomas. Karan was in the Flute Choir during the 2015-16 season, is in the Wind Symphony for the 2016-17 season, and attends Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS).
Ebonee grew up in Plano, and as she describes it, there weren’t many young musicians who looked like her. Being a part of GDYO was a breath of fresh air. She could be among other musical “weirdos” and just enjoy playing music. She was a member of the Philharmonic and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, and went on the 1996 tour of France.
“It’s because of GDYO…we did the France tour, and we went to Paris. And so I came back and I told my mom, “I’m going to live in France one day.” And so I studied my senior year of undergrad in Paris. And then I went on to study at the New England Conservatory. And straight out of my masters I won a job with the Houston Symphony. And then I went on to the New World Symphony. And after that I went to the Knoxville Symphony in Tennessee. And now I’m back in Dallas.”
Q&A with Ebonee
1. So how did you decide to continue with music into college and beyond?
I went to SMU, and I actually started out studying other things, like business, French, and art history…It wasn’t until halfway through undergrad when I decided that music was what I wanted to do.
2. I know you’ve coached the GDYO ensembles and played with the DSO. Can you tell me more about what you do?
I play pretty regularly with the Dallas Symphony, and I also play with other symphonies around the country, like Detroit, Phoenix, Minnesota. I really love teaching. I have a mediumsized studio, I teach in schools, and I also have a private studio where more advanced high school students come to my house, and I coach the GDYO flutes!
3. Looking back on your college experience, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a student pursuing a music degree, like besides just practicing?
I would just say, put yourself out there! Audition for everything you want to, play for everyone, go to every masterclass, not even just for your instrument, go to every festival audition, etc. You have to meet people, you have to network, you should have no regrets. You have nothing to lose, so really put yourself out there.
4. Looking back on your time outside of school, what are some things that have most surprised you about your adult life?
I guess for me the biggest thing that changed my musical direction was when I was at SMU (Southern Methodist University), I studied in Paris, and I sort of grew up mentally and musically. Something about studying abroad showed me that there’s more than one way to do things, and it was so amazing. I would go to guitar concerts, piano concerts, gypsy music concerts, organ recitals in cathedrals. And it really helped me grow and diversify musically, and it really helped me solidify my decision that I did want to play flute for the rest of my life.