Devoted to promoting a lifelong enthusiasm for music, Thomas Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. Hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences, he is principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; artistic advisor, education and community engagement, at the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and principal guest conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra; and he holds Indiana University’s Henry A. Upper chair of orchestral conducting, established by the late Barbara and David Jacobs. He completed a long and successful tenure as music director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2020–21 season. Previous posts have included resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Florida Orchestra (Tampa Bay).
Wilkins has appeared as guest conductor throughout the United States, leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Boston, National, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. In 2022 he was the recipient of the League of American Orchestras’s Gold Baton Award, and in that same year the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award for Music. Other awards include an honorary doctorate of arts from the Boston Conservatory, and the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society conferred by Boston’s Longy School of Music.
His commitment to community has been demonstrated by his participation on the boards of directors of several organizations, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Charles Drew Health Center (Omaha), Center Against Spouse Abuse in Tampa Bay, and the Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Academy Preparatory Center, both in St. Petersburg, Florida. Wilkins currently serves as chairman of the board for the Raymond James Charitable Endowment Fund and as national ambassador for the nonprofit World Pediatric Project, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, which provides children throughout Central America and the Caribbean with critical surgical and diagnostic care.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Thomas Wilkins is a graduate of the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.