Thursday, August 25, 2011 Thomas Wilkins conducts 'benefit show with the San Diego Symphony at the Salk Institute.'

[Thomas Wilkins]
Stage and screen star Menzel headlines Saturday's benefit for Salk
James Hebert
Written Aug. 24, 2011
“When he picked up the phone at his Omaha home on a recent weekday, conductor Thomas Wilkins was just going over the score for Saturday’s annual benefit show with the San Diego Symphony at the Salk Institute.

“But to learn more about the event’s special guest, Idina Menzel, Wilkins already had consulted a different in-house source: his twin teenage daughters. '(They) knew more about her than I did,' said Wilkins of the Idina-idolizing sisters, fans of 'Wicked' and 'Rent” and other highlights from the musical-theater superstar’s career. 'They’re “Gleeks,” too, for that matter,' he added, invoking the nickname for fans of the hugely popular, musical-mad Fox television series 'Glee.'

“The returning Wilkins is musical director of the Omaha Symphony, and also guest-conducts from Hollywood to Boston. He’ll preside over some 50 to 60 San Diego Symphony musicians, as Menzel — a Broadway icon for her turn as the green-hued witch Elphaba in 'Wicked' — performs a career-spanning selection of songs.

"To Wilkins, the purpose of the event — to boost the Salk’s research and educational programs — earns it a little extra fanfare (even if not all of Menzel’s fans can quite afford the fare). 'This is the 100th year of the San Diego Symphony,' he notes, '(and) the fact this great orchestra can have such a relationship with an institution that’s also involved with healing is pretty profound.'"

“Symphony at Salk: A Concert Under the Stars With Idina Menzel”
When: Champagne reception, 5:30 p.m. Saturday; dinner by Pamplemousse executive chef Jeffrey Strauss, 6:30 p.m.; followed by concert at 8 p.m.
Where: Salk Institute, 10010 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla
Tickets: $250 (sponsorships also available)
Phone: (858) 453-4100, ext. 1491

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