Kirk Wilke, a longtime performer and conductor in the Fredericksburg and Washington, DC communities, has established himself as an advocate and champion for orchestral music. In 1999, as a founding member of the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra in Fredericksburg VA, Mr. Wilke accepted the position as Music Director of the orchestra. Since that time, he has been intimately involved in establishing the first professional orchestra in that city. Along with board members, community leaders, musicians and citizens, Mr. Wilke has worked to establish the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra as an integral part of the community. The orchestra is now in its tenth season, providing classical and pops concerts to a wide audience with subscription series and holiday concerts. In a review from The Freelance Star: ". . . the orchestra, under conductor Kirk Wilke, glided from the Austrian Alps to Middle-earth without a ruffle. Add the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra to 'best things about our area' list."
In addition to his position as duties with the Rappahannock POPS Orchestra, Mr. Wilke is the Music Director of the Capital Chamber Symphony, a professional orchestra which he founded in Washington, DC. With the Capital Chamber Symphony, Mr. Wilke has been dedicated to programming American Music. From 2000-2003, Mr. Wilke served as Music Director of the Washington Symphony Orchestra. With the Washington Symphony, Mr. Wilke conducted subscription series concerts in such venues as: The Kennedy Center, The Warner Theater, and The Lincoln Theater. As the official orchestra of Washington, DC, Mr. Wilke has had the opportunity of performing for politicians and dignitaries at The Capital, The Korean Embassy, The Austrian Embassy, and The Duke Ellington School for the Arts. As a part of its community outreach programs, the orchestra performed concerts at local churches, parks, schools and theaters throughout the city. In 2003 Mr. Wilke gained international recognition as he became the first American to conduct the Shangdong Symphony Orchestra in Jining, China. The Jining Daily said of Mr. Wilke's work, ". . . an unforgettable night . . . the people didn't want to leave the hall. All the music strongly affected the hearts and souls of the audience." Mr. Wilke was invited to return in the spring of 2004 to conduct the orchestra again, and debut with the Qingtou Orchestra.In addition to his work as a conductor of orchestral repertoire, Mr. Wilke is sought after as an interpreter of musical theater productions. He has been engaged by The Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Tantallon Players, and The McDonough Players. Among his musical theater credits are: West Side Story, Zorba, The Wiz, Expressions of Music, 1940's Radio Hour and Mame.As an accomplished pianist Mr. Wilke has done numerous solo performances and has maintained a private studio for over 30 years.In 2000, Mr. Wilke was awarded a fellowship to the prestigious Aspen Music Festival, where he performed and conducted under the guidance of David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, Jorma Panula, Julius Rudel and David Robertson. Mr. Wilke is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor's Degree in Music. He has done post graduate work at McGill University, holds a Master's Degree in Conducting from The George Mason University and a Professional Studies degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he has studied conducting with Carl Topilow, and Louis Lane.