Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 29, 2020

Youth Symphony Orchestra conductor Gary Wilkes retires

Youth Symphony Orchestra conductor Gary Wilkes retired in May after leading the YSO for 27 years. - Photograph provided

Gary Wilkes, longtime conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s Youth Symphony Orchestra, retired in May and also is retiring from his position as orchestra teacher at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.

When Wilkes joined the YSO in 1993, it consisted of one orchestra. Under Wilkes’ direction, the YSO added a second full orchestra in 1998. The YSO added two training string orchestras in the years that followed.

Today, the YSO consists of four youth orchestras and several chamber ensembles that serve 200 young musicians each season.

A native Chattanoogan, Wilkes is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he earned a degree in music education.

After graduation, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas and was awarded a Master of Music in bassoon performance.

Over the past 38 years, Wilkes has taught bands and orchestras in Texas and Tennessee. The Board of the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts recently honored him as one of Tennessee’s outstanding teachers.

Wilkes is also the director of music at First Christian Church and is “a proud husband, father and grandfather,” says the CSO in a news release. Wilkes and his wife, Lisa, plan to relocate to the Nashville area this summer.

In Wilkes’ honor, the YSO will perform and dedicate a newly commissioned orchestral work during its first concert next season.

Source: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera