Associate Utah Symphony conductor Christopher Wilkins has been named music director of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra.

Wilkins, 32, will assume the Colorado Springs post Sept. 1, beginning a three-year contract. His appointment, announced Monday, follows a two-year search to replace conductor Charles Ansbacher, whose 1987-88 salary was $63,250. According to Colorado Springs Symphony manager Beatrice Vradenburg, the new conductor will be paid "a lot less."Currently in San Diego on vacation, Wilkins is scheduled to fly to Colorado Springs on April 9 for a news conference. As one of five finalists selected to appear as guests this season, he conducted the orchestra March 17-19. Reportedly, he was the consensus choice of musicians and the unanimous choice of the Orchestra Association's search committee.

"I think the people in Colorado Springs made a very fine choice," said Utah Symphony music director Joseph Silverstein. "Needless to say, we are delighted for Christopher. We've really enjoyed very, very much having him with us the seasons he's been here and watched his development with great pleasure."

Although a new associate will eventually be chosen, Silverstein said, within the limits of Wilkins' new schedule he will try to fulfill as many of his Utah commitments as possible next season. He is scheduled to direct two of the orchestra's regular subscription programs as well as a number of its chamber and winter pops concerts.

Silverstein especially praised Wilkins' work with the symphony's youth concerts. In a prepared statement, Wilkins said his Utah Symphony performances "represent the greatest musical experiences of my life."

Wilkins came to Utah in 1986, following three years as Exxon/Arts Endowment conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra. A Boston native, he holds degrees from Harvard and Yale and in 1982 served as a conducting fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

As music director of the Colorado Springs orchestra, he will be responsible for all programming decisions for the 1989-90 season and will conduct all concerts during his first year, the board said. Currently the orchestra presents 44 concerts a season, including eight subscription programs, with an annual budget of $2.1 million.