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David Thomas has been the Principal Clarinet for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2000. Growing up in the Dandenong Ranges, David studied at the University of Melbourne with Phillip Miechel and later at the Vienna Conservatorium with Roger Salander. David has played as a member of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and is an ongoing member of the Australian World Orchestra.

He has appeared as concerto soloist with the Melbourne, West Australian, Sydney, Tasmanian and Darwin Symphony orchestras, in works by Mozart, Copland, Debussy, Francaix and Brett Dean amongst others. Concertos have been written for David by Australian composers Ross Edwards, Phillip Czaplowski and Nicholas Routley, and his CD recording of the Edwards Concerto with the MSO conducted by Arvo Volmer has been released by ABC Classics.

David is actively involved in training the next generation of classical musicians at the Australian National Academy of Music, where he is the principal teacher of clarinet and head of the woodwind department.

Q. What is your favourite piece of music?
I have to cheat and nominate several:

  • favourite orchestral work: Mahler Symphony no.9
  • favourite opera: Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos
  • favourite chamber work: Schubert Octet
  • favourite pieces I will never get to play, as a clarinettist: Bach Johannes-Passion, Zelenka Trio Sonatas

Q. What is your fondest MSO memory?
Performing Elgar and Berlioz at the BBC Proms in London, conducted by Sir Andrew.

Q. What is something audiences may not know about you?
As a teenager in the 1980s, I played bass guitar in a rock band with school friends. The others were quite good, whereas I just tagged along. My favourite songs from our list of covers were by the Beatles and Queen.

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