Thom Mariner has been a member of the Vocal Arts Ensemble for all or part of about 30 seasons, with his first appearance occurring in the 1981 Christmas concert. Thom has been a part of the 40-year-old Ensemble for nearly its entire existence!
However, Thom’s involvement in Cincinnati’s choral community reaches far beyond his grand tenure with the VAE.
Thom first came to Cincinnati to attend University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music to study Opera, after graduating from DePauw University with bachelor degrees in Psychology and Music. Two years after he arrived, he went to work in the Queen City’s music industry as a buyer for the old Record Theatre Superstore. Over the years, he has performed w w ith organizations including the May Festival, Knox Church, St. Peter in Chains, his own traveling a cappella group, and Rockdale Temple, where he just finished singing his 34th year of High Holy Days (virtually, this time). Regionally, he has appeared with the Toledo Symphony, where he was particularly thrilled to perform as a soloist in Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions. His bass voice has set the foundation for many groups over the years, but his career has also included arts administration and education.
Thom admits that his career pursuits outside of performance have been designed to feed his musical habit, with roles ranging from selling equipment to graphic artists, to market research consultant, to voice instructor. There’s no doubt that he’s talented in the business arena as well, as evidenced by his appointment as Executive Director for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in 2012. These days, Thom and his wife Elizabeth are the motive forces behind Movers & Makers, a print and online magazine serving as the public voice of the local nonprofit community.
In his 42 years as a Cincinnati resident, Thom has lived in 17 different homes and considers himself “mostly an East Side person.” These days, he and Elizabeth live in Prospect Hill and enjoy the liveliness of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. They enjoy spending time with their adult children and two young grandchildren.
Embracing his role as a veteran vocalist, Thom laments the scarcity of older vocalists staying involved in performance. In fact he has been the eldest member of the VAE for many years.
“I encourage other professional singers to keep performing as they age. Experience brings nuance and refinement that take time to develop, and that’s something every top choir needs.”
At 66, Thom recognizes that his singing career is coming to a close soon, but he is happy to end it on a high note. You can hear Thom on the Vocal Arts Ensemble’s recording of Kile Smith’s Canticle, which helped Blanton Alspaugh win the 2020 Grammy for Classical Producer of the Year.
Explore a collection of Thom’s favorite choral works on the VAE Spotify channel, and subscribe to Movers & Makers to keep connected with the latest news from Cincinnati’s nonprofits.