Conductor Wilkins brings big dreams to Boston Symphony youth and family concerts

Posted on: December 5, 2011

In Sunday’s (12/4) Boston Globe, Akilah Johnson writes, “Standing in the Hayes School of Music’s auditorium in Roxbury, maestro Thomas Wilkins is having what he calls a poetic moment. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s youth and family concerts conductor is imparting life lessons and musical instruction to 250 middle-schoolers growing up in circumstances similar to his own and in the city where he received his formal maestro education. But during the conversation, Wilkins doesn’t talk much about his accomplishments, such as being the first African-American in the BSO’s 131-year history to hold a conducting position with the symphony. Instead, he talks about hope. He talks about dreams. ‘Wishing without working only leads to disappointment,’ he says. ‘I want you to know yourself. I want you to know what you’re built for.’ Growing up in a housing project in Norfolk, Va., Wilkins picked his career when he was a third-grade student, awe-struck by the sound of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ performed in an orchestra’s voice. … Now that he’s one of the few African-American conductors leading a major orchestra, Wilkins, who is the music director of the Omaha Symphony and principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, wants to see the ranks of classical musicians grow more culturally diverse.”

Posted December 5, 2011