Thomas Wilkins (conductor)

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Thomas Wilkins (born c.1956) is an orchestra conductor. [1] He is the music director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra , [2] principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra , [3] and family and youth concerts conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra . [4]

The Omaha Symphony is a professional orchestra performing more than 200 concerts and presentations annually in Omaha, Nebraska and throughout the orchestra's home region. The orchestra was established in 1921. It is considered a major American orchestra, classified under "Group 2" among the League of American Orchestras, which ranks symphony orchestras by annual budget, with Group 1 the largest and Group 8 the smallest. Its annual budget in 2012 was approximately $7 million. The symphony has a $30 million endowment. The orchestra's home and principal venue is the 2,005-seat Holland Performing Arts Center, the $100 million purpose-built facility designed by Polshek Partnership that opened in October 2005. In a review, The Dallas Morning News called the Holland "one of the country's best-sounding" symphony halls.

The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO) is a symphony orchestra which is managed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and plays the vast majority of its performances at the Hollywood Bowl.

Boston Symphony Orchestra American symphony orchestra in Boston, MA

The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five major American symphony orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at Tanglewood.


Early life and education

Wilkins was born in Norfolk, Virginia and grew up in a housing project, the son of a single mother and welfare recipient. [4] His inspiration to become an orchestra conductor came from a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" he attended when he was eight years old. [1]

Norfolk, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2017, the population was estimated to be 244,703 making it the second-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach and the 91st largest city in the nation.

The Star-Spangled Banner National anthem of the United States

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from the Defence of Fort M'Henry, a poem written on September 14, 1814, by the then 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Key was inspired by the large U.S. flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.

Wilkins received a bachelor's degree in music education from the Shenandoah Conservatory in 1978, and a master of music degree in orchestral conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982. [2]

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

Shenandoah University

Shenandoah University is a private university in Winchester, Virginia. It has an enrollment of approximately 4,000 students across more than 100 programs in seven schools: College of Arts & Sciences, Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business, Shenandoah Conservatory, Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing, School of Health Professions and the School of Education & Human Development. Shenandoah University is one of five United Methodist Church-affiliated institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

Teaching and conducting

Wilkins has taught at North Park University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Virginia Commonwealth University. [2]

North Park University

North Park University is a private Christian university in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church. It is located on Chicago's north side and enrolls more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a public university in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is one of three universities and two other affiliated institutions in the University of Tennessee System.

Virginia Commonwealth University public research university in Richmond, VA, USA

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public research university in Richmond, Virginia. MCV was founded in 1838 as the medical department of Hampden–Sydney College, becoming the Medical College of Virginia in 1854. In 1968, the Virginia General Assembly merged MCV with the Richmond Professional Institute, founded in 1917, to create Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2018, more than 31,000 students pursue 217 degree and certificate programs through VCU's 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health System supports the university's health care education, research and patient care mission.

He worked as assistant director of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. He also worked as resident director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Florida Orchestra. [2]

The Richmond Symphony is based in Richmond, Virginia. One of the nation's leading regional orchestras, it employs 72–85 musicians who give over 200 performances each season to over 200,000 audience members. Its music director is Steven Smith; its associate conductor is Chia-Hsuan Lin. Previous music directors were Edgar Schenkman (1957–71), Jacques Houtmann (1971-86), George Manahan (1987–98), and Mark Russel Smith (1999-2009). Previous associate conductors include William Henry Curry, Peter Bay, Marin Alsop, Thomas Wilkins, Eckart Preu, Clark Etienne Suttle, Sarah Hatsuko Hicks, Erin Freeman, and Keitaro Harada. The Executive Director is David Fisk.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra American orchestra

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is an American orchestra based in Detroit, Michigan. Its main performance center is Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood. The DSO performs throughout the metro Detroit area in both paid neighborhood series concerts and free community concerts.

Wilkins became music director of the Omaha Symphony in 2005, [2] and family and youth concert conductor of the Boston Symphony in 2011. [4]


  1. 1 2 Braxton, Greg (2009-09-09). "Hollywood Bowl's Thomas Wilkins a classical case of beating the odds". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thomas Wilkins, Music Director". Omaha Symphony. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  3. "About the conductor; Thomas Wilkins". Hollywood Bowl. Archived from the original on 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  4. 1 2 3 Johnson, Akilah (2011-12-04). "Raising the baton; The BSO's first black conductor applies his passion to inspiring a new generation". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-11-19.

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