Nicholas Wilks has been Musical Director of the Winchester Symphony Orchestra since 2006, and works regularly with the Wessex Sinfonietta and Salisbury Sinfonia. Now Second Master (Deputy Head) of Winchester College, he was Master of Music at Winchester College from 2004 - 2015, and Musical Director of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra from 1996-2004. After leaving the Royal Academy of Music, where his studies were made possible by a grant from the Drapers’ Company, he specialised in working with young musicians as Musical Director of the Finchley Children's Music Group, conducting youth orchestras in London and the Channel Islands and as Musical Director of New Youth Opera. He has conducted in Europe, South Africa (leading the first tour by a British youth orchestra since the fall of apartheid) Chile and Colombia. He has also broadcast on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4, Classic FM and the BBC World Service. His opera credits include Eugene Onegin, Noye's Fludde, Der Freischütz, La Belle Hélène and The Bartered Bride. Nicholas is also a former of A Capella Portuguesa with whom he toured Germany, Spain and Portugal, recorded for Hyperion records, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Nicholas was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for professional distinction in 2001.
His concerto work has included such distinguished soloists as Joanna MacGregor (the premiere of Alec Roth's Earth and Sky with Ensemble Bash and the Finchley Children’s Music Group at the BBC Proms in 2000), Alison Balsom, Roderick Williams, Cordelia Williams, Rosalind Ventris, Yoo Jeon Sir, Alexander Sitkovetsky, David Campbell, Samantha Carrasco and Ivana GavriÄ. As chorus master he has collaborated with Sir Colin Davis (the premiere of Piers Hellawell’s Do not disturb), Sir Andrew Davis, André Previn and Neeme Jarvi. His Somm recordings of Britten's Noye's Fludde and A Ceremony of Carols was a Sunday Telegraph Critic's Choice. Recent performances with the Winchester Symphony Orchestra have included a Brahms cycle of the complete concertos and symphonies, symphonies by Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Vaughan Williams, Nielsen, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Dvorak and the Sibelius, Elgar and Mendelssohn violin concertos with Alexander Sitkovetsky. Performances with Winchester Music Club have included Elgar’s The Apostles, The Kingdom and The Dream of Gerontius, Bach’s St John Passion, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Nielsen’s Springtime on Funen, a 50th anniversary performance of Britten’s War Requiem with Claire Rutter, the premiere of William Cole’s I died for beauty, Mendelssohn's Elijah with Bryn Terfel and the Brahms Requiem with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. In 2011 and 2014 Nicholas worked in Colombia with Fundación Nacional Batuta in Bogotá, and with the Orquesta Filarmónica Juvenil de Comfenalco in Cartagena. In 2013 he made his debut with the Oxford Chamber Orchestra in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. In November 2014 he conducted the premiere of Francis Pott’s Sentinel in Winchester Cathedral
Nicholas’s most alarming professional experience to date occurred in April 2016 when he was asked to conduct the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra in Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony at the Anvil, Basingstoke at an hour’s notice. He also confesses to having being somewhat unnerved by the experience of conducting Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, John Williams and David Bedford in a performance of Malcolm Arnold’s Toy Symphony.