Thomas Wilkins, Norfolk native, former associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony, describes his first subscription concert program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (where he’s been conductor of youth and family concerts since 2011), devoted to composers of color – Florence Price, Duke Ellington, Roberto Sierra and Virginian Adolphus Hailstork – as “a launching point to move forward,” widening the orchestral repertory to include previously overlooked or neglected music.
“A lot of composers understood that if their music was going to have wide appeal, probably some of it was going to have to come from music of the ‘common person.’ That’s what this program is, except that we have less often focused on Americanism’s original voice in classical music. If you think about someone like Samuel Barber — he was an American composer who wrote in a Western European voice. And that’s not the case with Florence Price or Duke Ellington. I think that’s the major difference,” Wilkins tells the Boston Globe’s David Weininger: