Maestro Thomas Wilkins is entering the final phase of his long goodbye to the Omaha Symphony.
He will take the podium at the Holland Center this weekend for the first of his last five concerts as music director.
Wilkins announced a few years ago that he planned to retire at the end of the 2020-21 season — the symphony’s 100th anniversary. He has led the orchestra for more than 15 years.
The season was supposed to begin last fall, but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. Symphony officials revamped the centennial season to begin this month.
Two highly anticipated guest stars who were on the original lineup — vocalist Brian Stokes Mitchell and saxophonist Branford Marsalis — still are scheduled to appear this spring. The Marsalis concert will be Wilkins’ finale.
This weekend, Wilkins will conduct the symphony in Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major and “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis” by English composer Vaughan Williams.
Both pieces are among Wilkins’ favorites.
“There are a few pieces that have felt like home, even from the beginning of my career, and I have a particular fondness for Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8,” he says. “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.”
The concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets, available at omahasymphony.org or 402-345-0606, range from $20 to $81. Distancing and other safety measures will be observed.