RELEASE: Wilkins Returns to the Stage to Lead Thrilling 2021 Opener, Dvořák Symphony No. 8

Omaha Symphony Strings Shine in Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis”

OMAHA, Neb., Jan. 11, 2021—Maestro Thomas Wilkins takes the podium to lead the Omaha Symphony in the first of his five final concerts remaining during his tenure with the orchestra later this week. The concert is both the launch of the orchestra’s centennial season and the beginning of a bittersweet goodbye to the Music Director who has served the organization for over 15 years. Wilkins leads the Omaha Symphony in the Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis” and a work he considers to be part of his conducting DNA, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall.

“The Omaha Symphony is thrilled to launch the new year with this gorgeous program,” said President & CEO Jennifer Boomgaarden. “As we enjoy the remainder of our time with Maestro Wilkins at the helm, the musicians of the Omaha Symphony continue to present beautiful concerts that allow us to gather safely around the healing power of music. This emotionally stirring program will be the perfect continuation of our celebration of 100 years of live orchestral music in our community!”

This performance continues the celebration of the Omaha Symphony’s redesigned centennial season, which includes a diverse slate of concerts with something for everyone. The season features performances of works by the likes of Dvořák, Mendelssohn, and William Grant Still, celebrations of pop music with tributes to Aretha Franklin and Paul Simon, and all-star guest artists Brian Stokes Mitchell and Branford Marsalis. The inaugural performance of the season features two of the most beloved works in the repertoire that are near and dear to the Maestro.

“There are a few pieces that have felt like home, even from the beginning of my career, and I have a particular fondness for Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8,” said Music Director Thomas Wilkins. “It’s a work that remains a cornerstone in my musical and professional identity. It’s fitting that we’re starting my final season with an old friend.”

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis”
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

In his hyper-lush and beloved work for strings “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis,” Vaughan Williams did for English folk music what Bartók and Kodály did for their native Hungary in artistically preserving national music history. Composed and premiered in 1910, the work has remained a stronghold in the string orchestra repertoire ever since. After stumbling upon a tune by the Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis while editing an English hymnal, a young Vaughan Williams – fresh from his studies in orchestration with Ravel – was inspired to preserve it in a lush setting for string orchestra. In doing so, Vaughan Williams married his love of 16th-century modal writing and the musical sensibilities of his own time.

The program’s cornerstone is Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, a bright and euphoric work that is sure to pull audiences, even if only temporarily, from the reality of the January winter blues. In his early composing years, Dvořák was not an immediate success. In fact, had influential music critic Eduard Hanslick not sent the composer’s scores to one Johannes Brahms, who was so delighted by them that he sent them straight to his own publisher, we may not have gems such as Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8. Much like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 is a celebration of the pastoral, a lively and vigorous romp of a piece, and a work that Maestro Thomas Wilkins considers part of his “conducting DNA.” Interspersed with the piece’s cheerful affect are moments of minor-mode mourning and chaotic outbursts that weave into the symphony’s pastoral flow.

Tickets for Wilkins Conducts Dvořák start at $20. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at

Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances. The following health and safety guidelines continue to be implemented within the venue:

  • Enhanced Cleaning & Sanitation - Electrostatic technology disinfecting large common areas, enhanced sanitizing of high touch surfaces with hospital grade disinfectant and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue
  • Heating and Cooling System – Upgrades to air handling units includes bipolar ionization filtering out viruses through ventilation
  • Staff Precautions – Staff and volunteers are required to wear face masks and receive temperature checks. Anyone with a temperature above 100° or experiencing symptoms will not be permitted onsite.
  • Touchless Experience - Faster and more efficient entry into the venues with touchless security checks, ticket scanning and cashless transactions

Find the most up to date public health information at

This performance is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.

The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or visit Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.