THOMAS WILKINS NAMED PRINCIPAL GUEST CONDUCTOR OF THE VIRGINIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

HAMPTON ROADS, VA [July 16, 2021] – Internationally renowned conductor and Norfolk native Thomas Wilkins has been named the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Principal Guest Conductor. Having recently stepped down after 17 years as music director of the Omaha Symphony, Mr. Wilkins is currently principal conductor of the fabled Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as Artistic Advisor for Education and Community Engagement at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His guest conducting credits include leading the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, the New York Philharmonic among others, in addition to his posts at the Hollywood Bowl and BSO.

A frequent guest conductor and favorite of VSO audiences, Mr. Wilkins credits a performance by the Virginia Symphony for inspiring him at the age of eight to pursue a career as a professional conductor, when he attended a youth concert as a student at Young Park Elementary in Norfolk (now Park Place Elementary).

“I often say that I didn’t choose music; music chose me,” said Mr. Wilkins. “And to be invited to return as a leader to the place where I made that decision to embrace music as a career and way of life so many years ago is incredibly moving for me. I have enormous love and respect for the musicians of the Virginia Symphony and I’m thrilled and honored to join them in this new role.”

Mr. Wilkins joins the organization at an exciting time as the orchestra begins its second century. Since 2019, the VSO has been recognized nationally for striving to reflect the region’s ethnic and racial diversity in its members, its programming, and its leadership.

The appointment of Wilkins as not only the orchestra’s first Principal Guest Conductor but its first Black artistic leader comes just weeks after 38-year-old Eric Jacobsen was selected as the VSO’s new music director, another bold step toward expanding the VSO’s vision to engage wider audiences with creative and relevant programming.

In announcing the appointment, VSO Board Chair Mike McClellan said, “This is a true dream team! Eric and Thomas share the VSO’s commitment to telling our community’s stories and advancing the important conversations that will promote understanding and belonging among all our residents.”

The symphony will host a welcome event for Mr. Wilkins on Monday, July 19th at 4:30pm at the Chrysler Hall Dress Circle Lobby, with a special performance by the Boys Choir of Hampton Roads, led by Julius McCullough. Free and open to the public; please RSVP by registering here.

Devoted to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, Mr. Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. He is hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences. Following his highly successful first season with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Globe named him among the “Best People and Ideas of 2011.” In 2014, Mr. Wilkins received the prestigious “Outstanding Artist” award at the Nebraska Governor’s Arts Awards for his significant contribution to music in the state, while in 2018 Mr. Wilkins received the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society conferred by Boston’s Longy School of Music. And in 2019 the Virginia Symphony bestowed Mr. Wilkins with its annual Dreamer Award.

During his conducting career, Mr. Wilkins has led orchestras throughout the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony, and the National Symphony. Additionally, he has guest conducted the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, the Symphonies of Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, San Diego and Utah, and the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics, as well as at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.

Mr. Wilkins is a graduate of the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He and his wife Sheri-Lee are the proud parents of twin daughters, Erica and Nicole. Mr. Wilkins’ first appearance with the orchestra in his new role will be February 18-20, 2022. Tickets will be on sale in mid-August at www.virginiasymphony.org.

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As the region’s most celebrated musical, educational and entrepreneurial arts organization, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra continues to challenge expectations and push the boundaries of what an American orchestra can be. Since the ground-breaking appointment of JoAnn Falletta in 1991, innovation and excellence have been at the heart of the VSO’s narrative.

The VSO has received national attention for its unique mission serving a home area of 1.7 million across the diverse communities of southeastern Virginia. Through appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall and commitment to adventurous programming, the VSO and its  musicians have been highlighted in the media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio and BBC Worldwide News.

The largest performing arts organization in southeastern Virginia, the VSO and VSO Chorus present more than 150 concerts and events annually to educate, enlighten and entertain more than 100,000 residents and visitors. Recent innovations include health and wellness programs, including interactive therapeutic experiences for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and adopting welcoming concert environments for those who are neurodiverse.

For Immediate Release
July 16, 2021
Contact: Kristen Bennington
Director of Marketing & Communications
Phone: 757.213.1411|
email: kbennington@virginiasymphony.org
Twitter: @VASymphony | Facebook: facebook.com/virginiasymphony​

Twitter: @VASymphony
Facebook: facebook.com/virginiasymphony

VSO Guest Artist: Andrew von Oeyen

Hailed worldwide for his elegant and insightful interpretations, balanced artistry and brilliant technique, Andrew von Oeyen has established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation.

Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mr. von Oeyen has extended his interpretive voice to a broad spectrum of repertoire as both a soloist and recitalist. He has collaborated with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Utah Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Marseille, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto USA Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic and Slovak Philharmonic. As both soloist and conductor he has led concerti and orchestral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Kurt Weill. On July 4, 2009, he performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in “A Capitol Fourth,” reaching millions worldwide in the multi-award winning PBS live telecast.

‍Mr. von Oeyen has appeared in recital at Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall in London, Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Symphony Hall, Zürich’s Tonhalle, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, St. Petersburg’s Philharmonia, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Sala São Paulo, Teatro Olimpico in Rome, in Mexico City, Hanoi, Macau, and in every major concert hall of Japan and South Korea. Festival appearances include Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Mainly Mozart, Saratoga, Schubertiade, Spoleto, Brevard, Grand Teton, Chautauqua and the Mariinsky’s “Stars of the White Nights.”

Mr. von Oeyen has recorded for Warner Classics since 2017. His albums under that label, including works for piano and orchestra by Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Gershwin and a disc including Debussy’s Fantaisie pour Piano et Orchestre, have been met with critical acclaim. Mr. von Oeyen has also recorded award-winning recital albums of Liszt, Debussy, and Stravinsky under the Delos label.

Mr. von Oeyen, of German and Dutch origin, was born in the U.S. He began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. He won the prestigious Gilmore Young Artist Award in 1999 and also took First Prize in the Léni Fé Bland Foundation National Piano Competition in 2001. Mr. von Oeyen lives in Paris and Los Angeles.