Youth symphony conductor says every class a masterpiece in the making

photo Gary Wilkes, the director of orchestras at CSAS, president of the Tennessee Music Education Association, conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Youth Orchestra Symphony as well as many other titles.

After more than 30 years of wielding the baton, Gary Wilkes still thinks conducting young musicians is what he was born to do.

"I feel like my mission in life is dealing with kids," said Wilkes, who recently ended his two-year term as the president of the Tennessee Music Education Association.

"Most adult orchestras are very jaded and smug," he added, laughing. "I've got some colleagues in an adult symphony who are not fun to be around."

Wilkes began his teaching career in Irving, Texas, in the early 1970s.