Watkins Given Chamber Orchestra Baton
When the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra opens its 19th season late this year, Frank A. Watkins, assistant professor of choral music education at UW-Eau Claire, will take the baton as its new music director. Watkins will be the first new conductor for the ECCO in almost two decades, since Ivar Lunde Jr. – who retired recently from the post – founded and led the group. Watkins and two other guest conductors competed for the position during the recently concluded 2015-16 season. A native of Omaha, Neb., Watkins holds degrees in piano performance from Jackson State University and the University of Arkansas and in conducting from Northwestern University. He received a doctor of musical arts degree from Michigan State University, where he studied with Dr. David Rayl, Dr. Sandra Snow, and Dr. Jonathon Reed. Watkins’ passion is teaching, which he will continue to do at UWEC. His goal is to make an impact – not just an impression – on the lives of those that follow his baton. He has done so with the Women’s Concert Chorale (WoCo) at the university. After WoCo’s last concert of the season, Ella Koch, a graduating senior, in a Facebook post, thanked Watkins for “pouring his heart and soul into this choir.” That is impact that he will surely bring to ECCO and its audiences. Welcome Frank A. Watkins!