A native Chattanoogan, Gary Wilkes is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Music Education. After graduation, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and was awarded a Master of Music Diploma in Bassoon Performance. It was at Southern Methodist University where he studied conducting with James Rives-Jones, associate conductor with the Dallas Symphony and the Colorado Symphony. Over the past 31 years, he has taught both bands and orchestras in Texas and Tennessee. Currently he is the orchestra teacher at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, a position he has held for the last 15 years. For the past 18 years, he has been the music director of the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestras and the conductor of the Chattanooga Youth Symphony.
Gary has professional affiliations with the Music Educator’s National Conference, Tennessee Music Education Association, East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, American String Teacher’s Association, National School Orchestra Association, International Double Reed Society, Tennessee Education Association, Hamilton County Education Association, and the American Federation of Musicians - Local 80. He is the immediate past-president of T.M.E.A. and a member of the Tennessee Chapter of the American String Teacher's Association. He also holds membership in the Phi Beta Mu honorary band director’s fraternity and was recently honored as one of Tennessee’s outstanding teachers by the Board of the Tennessee Governor’s School of the Arts.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he is a bassoonist with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and Director of Music at First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.