• 2010-Present Day: Dr. Nikolas Caoile

Among the guest conductors of the 2009-10 season was Central Washington University symphony conductor Nikolas Caoile, whom the board hired for the following season.

During the spring of 2010 the symphony retained a consultant, Don Thulean, former conductor of the Spokane Symphony, to assess the organization. The result was that the board members decided to relieve Beth Jensen of management duties and manage their programs themselves. For the 2010-11 season they had a new logo designed and with their new conductor put together the entire season’s program in a new brochure. Their new conductor, Caoile, a pianist, had been at Central Washington university for four years. Under his direction, the new season brought back a number of former players to the point that very few “imports” were needed during Caoile’s first season.

The 2010-11 season inaugurated two scholarships for high school musicians chosen to play the following season, first place $1,000 and second place $500. They were sponsored by Gordon Schuster of New York Life, in honor of the late Angela Schuster Svendsen.

  • 2004-2009: Mr. Marty Zyskowski

Strauss’s successor in the 2004-5 season, Marty Zyskowski from Eastern Washington University, led the symphony from 2004 through the 2009 season. Among the highlights of his tenure was the 60th anniversary season of 2006-7 with a program that spanned the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. He resigned due to his wife’s ill health at the end of the 2009, and the symphony relied on guest conductors the following season.

  • 2000-2004: Dr. Mel Strauss

In 2000, Mel Strauss was hired as conductor. Strauss had been a guest conductor here and was head of Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts. He had wide experience in the music world, and in his three years here his experience and musical maturity were evident.

  • 1999-2000: Mr. Adam Flatt

The symphony had guest conductors until 1999, when Adam Flatt was selected. When September arrived, the symphony members rebelled at changes the board was making, including the firing of the manager. They refused to play, so the board resigned en mass. The fall season was cancelled. The symphony members and season ticket holders elected a new board, and Flatt conducted a January program. The manager, Beth Jensen, was rehired. A spring concert completed the short concert season.

  • 1997-1999: guest conductors

The year 1998 was one to remember, for that year Alcoa chemist Roy Hill left endowments to the symphony. His bequest included an annual $10,000 to the symphony plus two scholarships for graduating high school seniors in Chelan and Douglas Counties of $4,000 a year for four years.

  • 1994-1997: Dr. Daniel Baldwin

Lee was succeeded by Dan Baldwin, director of the Central Washington University Symphony, in 1994, who conducted the local group until 1997 when he took a position in Iowa.

  • 1985-1994: Mr. Mike Lee

Mike Lee succeeded Glenn Kelly in the 1985-86 season. Among Lee’s concerts was a large work, the Mozart “Requiem” with the Central Washington University choir, the Columbia Chorale of Wenatchee, and the college choir. Soloists were Dick Lapo, Susan Bray, Ted Turner and Judith Burns. One of the concerts that he conducted that year was a new piano concerto composed and played by Gordon Schuster, who had written the composition while at Eastern Washington University.

The state’s centennial year, 1989, had not only the Camilla Wicks violin performance, but also a special centennial event with a work by Prof. Gerald Kechley of the University of Washington commissioned by the Wenatchee Valley Symphony. It was based on folk songs from the new centennial songbook.

Beth Jensen became the symphony manager under Mike Lee. A 1992 concert featured a commissioned work, a new clarinet concerto composed by Gordon Schuster of Wenatchee, who was doing a doctoral studies at Indiana University. The piece was commissioned by clarinetist Caroline McKee, who played the new composition.

  • 1979-1985: Mr. Glenn Kelly

Glenn Kelly took over the podium in 1979 after Malcolm Seagrave left for California and a career in composition. Kelly conducted the orchestra for the next six seasons. Esther Petit’s position was taken by Laurie Mathews for a year, succeeded by Sherry Krebs for several seasons.

  • 1968-1979: Dr. Malcolm Seagrave

Wenatchee Valley College received a federal grant in 1968, which brought three professional artists to the college, one of whom was musician Dr. Malcolm Seagrave. The Wenatchee Valley College, led by President Dr. William Steward, hired Seagrave that year with the desire to have him lead a full symphony. An orchestra board of directors was selected and charged with managing and raising funds. They got community sponsors for every program and organized as a non-profit entity in 1970. A full symphony repertoire was now possible.

In 1970 the symphony made arrangements to play in the Liberty Theater, with its first concert on November 1st. When the new Wenatchee High School opened in the fall of 1972, its 900-seat auditorium became home for the symphony concerts. 

The 1970’s were memorable not only for the musicianship of Dr. Malcolm Seagrave, but for the addition of Camilla Wicks, concert violinist, who became the symphony’s concertmaster in 1972. She made a profound impression, and Dr. Seagrave commented that her presence had moved the orchestra years ahead in its musical development. She played with the orchestra for three seasons.

  • 1947-1968: Dr. George Bower

The Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra had a quiet beginning, when a group of musicians gathered in the first location of the Wenatchee Junior College, situated in the Ellison Junior High School building. The year was 1947, just eight years after the founding of the college.

One of the musicians, violinist Arlene Trotter, recalls that less than twenty musicians took part in those early years.

George Bower was the high school music teacher leading the group, which he named the Wenatchee Civic Orchestra. It performed free concerts in the Liberty Theater. The college moved to the Fifth Street campus, and hired Bower to run its music in 1954. He continued to lead the small group and their occasional free performances to sparse audiences.

Wenatchee Valley College received a $59,000 federal grant in 1968, which brought three professional artists to three community colleges: Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Wenatchee. They were drama instructor Lawrence Tucker and musicians Brooke Creswell and Dr. Malcolm Seagrave, each to serve one quarter at each school.