Thomas, Linda Lee
Linda Lee Thomas. Pianist, artistic director, b Lethbridge, Alta, 5 Feb 1947; ARCT piano 1963, ARCT voice 1965, B MUS (Montana) 1968, M MUS (Montana) 1969. Raised in Cardston, Alta, Linda Lee Thomas studied piano locally with Thelma Smith, in nearby Lethbridge with Beatrice Foster, and in Calgary with Gladys Egbert. She also studied 1965-9 at the University of Montana and in 1976 with Menahem Pressler. After touring 1969-72 as principal solo pianist with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, she was the pianist 1972-4 for the Vancouver Opera Association. In 1973 she began giving CBC recitals and became the principal pianist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, a position that she retained in 2005. She was on the staff 1974-8 of the Vancouver Community College, and from 1974 to 1992 she was the artistic director of the Masterpiece Chamber Music Series at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, a position that she shared with her husband, the choral conductor Jon Washburn. The piano trio she formed in 1977 in connection with the series - with the violinist Gwen Thompson and the cellist Ian Hampton (replaced in 1980 by Eric Wilson) - continued to perform until 1983 as the Masterpiece Trio. Thomas has appeared in recital, in chamber concerts (eg, with the Purcell String Quartet, the Melos Quartet of Stuttgart, and the Alexander Quartet of New York), and in concertos with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Her solo repertoire includes works of Bach and the baroque period, Mozart, the German Romantics, and 20th-century French composers.
In 1987 Thomas formed Piano Power with pianists Terrence Dawson, Robert Rogers, Rena Sharon (until 1990), and Arlie Thompson (from 1990), an ensemble that presented works for one or two pianos (including four- and six-hand pieces) and appeared in the Masterpiece series and at other locations in British Columbia. Also in 1987 she became a founding member (until 1993) of Viveza, a chamber group including Gwen Thompson and Mark Koenig (violins), Lee Duckles (cello), and Wilmer Fawcett (bass), which performs salon and Latin American works. Viveza also appeared in the Masterpiece series and in the Okanagan (eg, Kelowna and Vernon), and is heard on a recording released in 1990, with percussionist Salvador Ferreras, entitled In Palm Court Style (Skylark CD-9001), and in the 1991 recording Viveza Encore (Skylark CD-9101). Additional chamber ensembles with which Thomas has been associated are Tangissimo (founding member 2003) and Companeros Del Tango. She has also broadcast and performed tango music with the Argentinian bandoneonist Daniel Binelli.
Recordings and Awards
Thomas's own sensitive playing and administrative skill have contributed markedly to the success of her varied musical endeavours. With the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Thomas premiered (1976) Michael Conway Baker's A Struggle for Dominion. Her playing of six piano pieces by Calixa Lavallée may be heard on the LP Early Music from Quebec (1972, CBC SM-204/4-RCI 513). In 1975 she recorded Colin McPhee's Concerto for piano and wind octet with members of the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra (CBC SM-308). She accompanies Luigi Peressin on his recording Italian Songs (KVP 108) and the Vancouver Chamber Choir on their recordings Due North (Centrediscs CMC-CD-3388) and Simple Gifts (CBC SMCD-5097). Thomas was co-recipient of the 1988 Vancouver Award for Music, and was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Raminsh - Louie - Schafer - Glick. Love Songs for a Small Planet. Vancouver Chamber Choir, Washburn conductor. 1993. Centrediscs CMCCD 4893
Rise! Shine! The Music of Jon Washburn. Vancouver Chamber Choir, Washburn conductor. 1994. Grouse 102
Morawetz - Ravel - Debussy - Poulenc. The Expressive Oboe. Roger Cole oboe. 1994. CBC Records MVCD 1070
Brahms on Life and Love. Vancouver Chamber Choir. 1996. Virgin Classics/EMI VC 7243 5 45269 2 3
Michael Conway Baker - Greater Vancouver Music Album. 2000. Evocation MCB 001
Stephen Chatman - Due West. Vancouver Chamber Choir, Washburn conductor. 2000. CBC Records MVCD 1132
Tango de Buenos Aires. Binelli bandoneon, Thomas piano. 2002. CBC Records MVCD 1147