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Wenatchee Symphony excels under Nikolas Caoile

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In the three years since Nikolas Caoile took over as conductor, then Wenatchee Valley Symphony has undergone a stunning renascence.

The organization was struggling when he took over. Morale was low and the finances were in very tough shape. The orchestra was still playing Sunday afternoon concerts at a less-than-ideal location, Wenatchee High School.

Since that time, the orchestra has been reborn and you can see it when you hear them play. They've since moved to the Performing Arts Center, which far surpasses the previous venue in terms of music quality and they've changed the concerts to Saturday night. It's well worth the price of admission to see them perform. This is a wonderful symphony.

What you see at their concerts is energy, enthusiasm and passion. Caoile (pronounced KaWillie), who is the director of orchestral studies at Central Washington University, deserves tremendous credit for his leadership role in this turnaround. He emphasizes striving for artistic excellence — being the best musicians they can be — with a strong dose of discipline mixed with a fun and supportive atmosphere. It's a combination that has worked magic with the symphony since his first rehearsal, I'm told.

"Then orchestra was hungry for that," Caoile told me. The chance to share in the sense of community of making music together is the reason that people joined the orchestra in the first place.

The energy that Caoile brings to the orchestra is readily apparent when you see him spring up to the podium. He's also a consummate teacher who takes the time to explain to the orchestra what the composer was trying to accomplish so they have an understand of how the music is supposed to fit together. It's a combination that has worked wonders.

The Wenatchee Valley Symphony will be playing its third concert of the season Saturday night, 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee. Caoile will be giving a pre-concert talk about the music at 6 p.m. The theme is Italy and features the music of Rossini and Respighi. Sandwiched in between will be Schumann's Piano Concerto with Duane Funderburk, who teaches at Azusa Pacific in California and has property in Plain, at the keyboard. Should be a great show.

The success of the symphony reminds us how vital leadership is to the success of any organization.

If you'd like to see my video interview with Caoile, please log onto and click on videos.

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