We chatted the other day with Jim Thomas, President of the Chorale Board of Trustees. Jim first became acquainted with the Colorado Children’s Chorale nearly 8 years ago when his daughter, Genevieve, became a member of Prep Choir. Jim and his wife Candace have been married for 26 years and in addition to Genevieve, have a daughter named Olivia. By trade, Jim is a lawyer at Minor & Brown in Denver. He spoke with the Chorale Connection about the many other activities he’s involved in, what kind of music he listens to, and his favorite Chorale memories.
CC: How long have you been President of the Board for the Colorado Children’s Chorale?
JT: I’ve been President since July 1, 2008 and a member of the Board for almost 5 years.
CC: Why did you get involved with the Chorale?
JT: My community efforts focus on children. I do that to pay forward for, as a youth, I was the beneficiary of adult stewardship in Scouting, and, I do it to maximize the return on my volunteerism because helping kids helps the entire community for years to come. Before the Chorale, I was involved in service-oriented organizations — Boy Scouts, The Children’s Hospital, and The Kempe Foundation. My daughter, Genevieve, had been in the Chorale for a few years when the opportunity to join the Chorale board came along. Being part of a transformative arts program for kids has been a new and wonderful experience for me.
CC: What do you do for your day job?
JT: I am a lawyer with Minor & Brown. I work with what I call human-owned businesses. My clients are companies owned by one person, a small group of people, or a family. My practice is mostly problem solving and negotiating all kinds of contracts that come up in growing a business or transitioning out of one.
CC: What other activities are you involved in?
JT: I’m active in my church, Montview Boulevard Presbyterian, my daughters’ schools, and some other business and civic nonprofits. I love photography, cooking and most any outside activity, but especially cycling and hiking.
CC: Why did you start your blog and what topics do you like to discuss there?
JT: Marketing consultants got after my law firm for not using social media, so I started No Funny Lawyers. Attracting clients is the reason for the blog, but I’m having fun, too. I was an editor of my high school newspaper and blogging expresses a part me that law never has. My topics are, ostensibly, the law and legal concerns of human-owned companies, but because I believe that great businesses build community, I write on community stewardship matters as well. I got a bigger megaphone, especially for community concerns, when the Huffington Post gave me a spot. By the way, the banner photo on No Funny Lawyers is me and Candace at the 2009 Chorale Celebration. Maybe one from this year’s Beach Ball (the Chorale’s 2010 Gala) will replace it.
CC: What kind of music do you like?
JT: Colorado Children’s Chorale music, of course. Seriously, I do love choral music, and I always love hearing our kids sing. Some of my favorite CCC songs come out of Apprentice Choir with its combination of raw child emotion and a year of Chorale polish, but I love all the choirs and watching over several years as the children progress through them. Apart from the Chorale, my music tastes are pretty broad, but singer-songwriters in folk and blues traditions are at the top of my list.
CC: Do you sing?
JT: Yes, but with more enthusiasm than skill. My daughter Olivia posted a “Caution: Driver Singing” sticker on my car. After seeing the movie version of Mamma Mia, I quipped: “At least I sing better than Pierce Brosnan,” to which Genevieve promptly replied: “No, you don’t.” Ouch.
CC: What is your favorite movie and why?
JT: Local Hero stands out among my favorite films. It’s a whimsical gem about a Texan who travels to Scotland to buy an entire fishing village in order to clear the way for an oil refinery. That’s the plot; the magic is in writer/director Bill Forsyth’s sly study of human beings — our assumptions and our priorities — set against a gorgeous Scottish landscape and underscored by the first soundtrack written by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits). I’m an occasionally funny, deal-making lawyer with roots in Texas and Scotland, so I love this beautiful, intelligent, and often wacky movie.
CC: What is the food item you can’t live without?
JT: Good olive oil. I can find a close substitute for other foods that are important to me, but not olive oil.
CC: What is your favorite memory or experience from working with the Chorale?
JT: There are so many, but since I’ve been both parent and trustee, I’m picking two.
As a trustee, my favorite experience was my day with Tour Choir at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I wrote about the experience in my CCC newsletter debut. Watching the kids go from being professionals to being kids to being professionals, again and again, in that setting, was fantastic. A slideshow of some of my photos and a recording of the kids is linked to my No Funny Lawyers post on Memorial Day.
As a parent, my choice is an April 2009 concert in Colby, Kansas. National Tour Choir had been singing their way across the country. Colby was their last stop before home. Candace and I, as well as several other parents, drove out across the plains to see the show. There would be later gigs that season, but this was the last time this choir would sing together by themselves, and for many, Genevieve included, it marked the end of their Chorale journey. The tears started early. In the last couple of songs, tears flowed freely down the cheeks of boys and girls alike (and parents, too), but the smiles and the wonderful music never stopped. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful organization.