Thomas Wilkins (conductor)

Last updated

Thomas Wilkins (born c.1956) is an orchestra conductor. [1] He is Music Director Laureate 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]


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]

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]

Teaching and conducting

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

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]

Wilkins became music director of the Omaha Symphony in 2005, [2] and family and youth concert conductor of the Boston Symphony in 2011. [4] He retired from the Omaha Symphony on June 12, 2021. [5]


  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 Laureate". Omaha Symphony. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  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.
  5. Freeman, Betsie (June 13, 2021). "Thomas Wilkins takes final bow as director of Omaha Symphony". Omaha World-Herald . Retrieved February 18, 2022.

Related Research Articles

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, commonly referred to as the LA Phil, is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. It has a regular season of concerts from October through June at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and a summer season at the Hollywood Bowl from July through September. Gustavo Dudamel is the current Music Director, Esa-Pekka Salonen is Conductor Laureate, Zubin Mehta is Conductor Emeritus, and Susanna Mälkki is Principal Guest Conductor. John Adams is the orchestra's current Composer-in-Residence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Tilson Thomas</span> American conductor, pianist and composer (b1944)

Michael Tilson Thomas is an American conductor, pianist and composer. He is Artistic Director Laureate of the New World Symphony, an American orchestral academy based in Miami Beach, Florida, Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Zealand Symphony Orchestra</span> National symphony orchestra of New Zealand

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) is a symphony orchestra based in Wellington, New Zealand. The national orchestra of New Zealand, the NZSO is an autonomous Crown entity owned by the Government of New Zealand, per the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Act 2004. It is currently based in the Michael Fowler Centre and has frequently performed in the adjacent Wellington Town Hall before it was closed in 2013. It also performs in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Portland Youth Philharmonic</span> Youth orchestra based in Portland, Oregon, U.S.

The Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP) is the oldest youth orchestra in the United States, established in 1924 as the Portland Junior Symphony (PJS). Now based in Portland, Oregon, the orchestra's origin dates back to 1910, when music teacher Mary V. Dodge began playing music for local children in Burns, Oregon. Dodge purchased instruments for the children and organized the orchestra, which would become known as the Sagebrush Symphony Orchestra. After touring the state, including a performance at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, the orchestra disbanded in 1918 when Dodge moved to Portland. There, Dodge opened a violin school and became music director of the Irvington School Orchestra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gustavo Dudamel</span> Venezuelan conductor and violinist (born 1981)

Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a Venezuelan conductor and violinist who is the music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Paris Opera.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norman Leyden</span> American conductor

Norman Fowler Leyden was an American conductor, composer, arranger, and clarinetist. He worked in film and television and is perhaps best known as the conductor of the Oregon Symphony Pops orchestra. He co-wrote with Glenn Miller the theme "I Sustain the Wings" in 1943, which was used to introduce the World War II radio series.

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Omaha Symphony Orchestra</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">El Sistema</span>

El Sistema is a publicly financed, voluntary sector, music-education program, founded in Venezuela in 1975 by Venezuelan educator, musician, and activist José Antonio Abreu. It later adopted the motto "Music for Social Change." El Sistema-inspired programs provide what the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies describes as "free classical music education that promotes human opportunity and development for impoverished children." By 2015, according to official figures, El Sistema included more than 400 music centers and 700,000 young musicians. The original program in Venezuela involves four after-school hours of musical training and rehearsal each week, plus additional work on the weekends. Most El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States provide seven or more hours of instruction per week, as well as free use of an instrument.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Alan Miller</span> Musical artist

David Alan Miller is a multi-Grammy Award-winning American symphony orchestra conductor, and since 1992, music director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Miller served as assistant and associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1987–92 and music director of the New York Youth Symphony from 1982-88. He is currently also Artistic Advisor to The Little Orchestra Society in New York City.

Miguel Alberto Harth-Bedoya is a Peruvian conductor. He was formerly music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2020 and chief conductor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra from 2013 to 2020. He is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at Baylor University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Boyer</span> American classical composer

Peter Boyer is an American composer, conductor, orchestrator, and professor of music. He is known primarily for his orchestral works, which have received over 500 performances, by nearly 200 orchestras.

Daniel George Lewis was an American orchestral conductor and University Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California (USC).

Jeffrey Alan Kahane is an American classical concert pianist and conductor. He was music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for 20 years, the longest of any music director in the orchestra's history. He is the music director of the Sarasota Music Festival, a program of the Sarasota Orchestra, and a professor of keyboard studies (Piano) at the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, California

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Stumpf</span> Musical artist

Thomas Stumpf is a classical pianist in the Boston area. He is also a conductor, composer, author, and teacher.

John Morris Russell, also known as JMR, is an American orchestral conductor best known for his association with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife and two children.

Mei-Ann Chen is a Taiwanese American conductor. She is currently music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta and conductor laureate of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Victor Yampolsky is a Russian-born conductor and the son of pianist Vladimir Yampolsky. He was most recently director of orchestras at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, a position he has held since 1984. He is the music director emeritus of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, where he was music director from 1995 to 2004. He also is the music director of the Peninsula Music Festival and the honorary director of the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Before his appointment to the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Yampolsky served as the principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa and as the resident conductor of the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the training ground for younger musicians under the auspices of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The Classical Pops Festival is an annual outdoor festival on the Caribbean island of Barbados that takes place every December at a renovated former horse paddock at the Apes Hill Club. It is the first of its kind for Barbados and the Caribbean, heavily influenced by Tanglewood in the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the BBC Proms in the UK. It is also noted for comprising an all-star orchestra made up of principal players and members of some of the world's most prestigious symphonies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black conductors</span>

Black conductors are musicians of African, Caribbean, African-American ancestry and other members of the African diaspora who are musical ensemble leaders who direct classical music performances, such as an orchestral or choral concerts, or jazz ensemble big band concerts by way of visible gestures with the hands, arms, face and head. Conductors of African descent are rare, as the vast majority are male and Caucasian.