Saturday, January 21, 2012 Thomas Wilkins seeks to 'raise a new generation of concertgoers' who 'love music'

[Maestro Thomas Wilkins (]

Thursday January 19, 2012
By Michael Kelly
“The conductor of the Omaha Symphony jokes that his talent for flapping his arms came from his father — who waved his arms to help pilots park commercial airliners. Maestro Thomas Wilkins spends a lot of time at airports, but not on the tarmac. Though Omaha is home, he flies around the country often, much in demand to conduct other symphonies. This week he led the Philadelphia Orchestra in a Martin Luther King Day tribute. He is the principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. And he recently became the first African-American conductor in the 131-year history of the Boston Symphony, where he leads youth and family concerts.

“I snagged him for a half-hour Wednesday as he prepared to rehearse with the Omaha Symphony for Sunday's family concert, 'The Thrill of the Orchestra.' He recalled his first orchestral thrill, a class field trip to hear the Norfolk, Va., symphony when he was 8. 'I think back to it all the time,' Wilkins said."

“Wilkins conducts the symphony's classical 'masterworks,' but also enjoys family concerts. Sunday's 2 p.m. event at the Holland is affordable — $9.75 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under if purchased in advance; $3 more at the door.” “Wilkins said he never talks down to children, and tells them the best thing they can bring to the concert hall is their imagination. His goal is to 'raise a new generation of concertgoers — not because they are ticket-buyers, but because they love music.'"

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