New CSO Exec Seasoned On Europe’s Opera Stage


New CSO Exec Seasoned

On Europe’s Opera Stage

By JIM KEVLIN • Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal

Thomas Wolf, the new Catskill Symphony Orchestra executive director, with board President Diane Williams. (Jim Kevlin/

ONEONTA – A lyric tenor, Thomas Wolf’s operatic career was on the rise.

Southwest Germany’s largest daily, Munchner Merkur, celebrated his “particularly beautiful and warm tenor” voice, “wonderfully controlled.” In 1992, when a headliner dropped out of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” at Munich’s opera house, it seemed like his big break had arrived.

As the date approached, however, he felt a growing pain in his chest.  Rehearsing the week of the premier, he passed out.  “It came on me like a ton of bricks” – heart trouble, and his performance career was over.

It was a tragedy for the aspiring tenor from Cleveland, who by this time had been on the European opera circuit for almost a decade – but today it’s an opportunity for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra: Thomas Wolf, living in Bloomville, has been appointed CSO executive director, effective earlier this month.

The appointment comes at a critical time, said Diane Williams, CSO board president: The Oneonta-based orchestra is in the midst of selecting its first conductor in 45 years, after last year’s retirement of maestro Charles Schneider.

The selection has been winnowed from 70 applicants down to six.  This fall, the finalists will conduct – one concert each in September, October and November – with the final decision expected in December.

By then, Williams is depending on Wolf, who succeeds Laura Dohner, to have everything else humming.

“I want Thomas to be seen as the leader in charge of the organization, liaison with the musicians and the maestro,” she said, “to solve problems, working with the new music director.”

With recruitment of a new conductor after 45-year veteran Chuck Schneider’s retirement, Wolf and Williams discuss the challenges ahead.

Thomas’ love of music goes back to his boyhood: His grandmother, an opera singer, had 78 RPM records of all the opera greats of the early 20th Century, and he listened to them all.

He received a bachelor’s in music (1983)and master’s in performance (1985) from Cleveland State University at an exciting time:  the college was seeking to build the reputation of its music department.

His career since the incident in Munich makes him seem like a perfect fit for his new role.

Returning to New York City, in 1998 he joined the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as assistant executive director.  In 2000, he join the innovative Eos Orchestra in a marketing capacity until it closed in 2004.

During his period, 1994-2005, he was also a founding board member of the American Singers’ Opera Project, serving as executive director.

Since he and his partner moved to Delaware County in 2010, he’s been running his own business in connection with Usana Health, the health products company.

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