Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boston Globe: 'BSO names Wilkins to lead youth concerts'

[Thomas Wilkins]

Boston Globe
By Jeremy Eichler
Globe Staff / February 16, 2011
“The Boston Symphony Orchestra announced today that it has appointed Thomas Wilkins its conductor of Youth and Family Concerts. This morning at Symphony Hall, Wilkins will lead the first of six programs for young audiences from area schools. On Saturday he will lead two additional programs geared toward families. Wilkins, 54, is in his sixth season as music director of the Omaha Symphony, and he is also the principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. At the BSO, he will be the first African-American to hold any conducting appointment in the orchestra’s history. Beyond leading the annual youth and family concerts, Wilkins will also participate in the BSO’s other educational and outreach activities.

“Speaking by phone en route to Boston, Wilkins said he first led performances for audiences new to classical music while serving as an assistant conductor at the Richmond Symphony. 'I discovered not only that I was good at [these concerts], but that I loved doing them,’ he said. 'I just love getting people to fall in love with classical music.'

“He added that his belief in the importance of musical outreach work stems from the transformative role music played in his own early life. 'I was once that little 8-year-old-boy, born to a single mother in a housing project in Norfolk, Va., who went with his class to a concert and decided that day: I want to be a conductor,’ he said.”

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