Fourth Grader Directs Symphony

by Marilyn Jorgensen

Wesley Oliver, fourth-grader at Spokane Valley Adventist School, was chosen to direct the Spokane Symphony while they played Rosini's William Tell Overture. 

Spokane Valley, Wash., December 10, 2015  -  When the Spokane Valley Adventist School (SVAS) sent in their required information to attend the Spokane Symphony's concert for fourth-graders in the Spokane, Wash., region and north Idaho, little did they know they would make history for their school. 

The application asked for the name of a student who might be able to conduct the symphony if chosen. Music teacher Marilyn Jorgensen wrote Wesley Oliver's name, knowing he could handle it well, but Jorgensen kept it secret. Several weeks later she received an email on her phone stating, much to her surprise, Oliver had been chosen.

She excitedly phoned Oliver and his parents, Charlie and Tonya Oliver, along with the school principal, Beverly Church. It did not take long for the entire student body to get involved in the enthusiasm of the moment and the privilege of being recognized along with many public schools.

Preparation for Oliver meant rehearsal the evening before the concert with the Spokane Symphony and its new assistant conductor, Jorge Luis Uzcategui, to get a few pointers on conducting Rossini's William Tell Overture.

Being a small parochial school, allowances were made to take more than just the fourth-graders. About 600 students from across the region filled the Fox Theater, the home of the Spokane Symphony. It proved successful, and all cheered of Oliver's professional debut — a musical experience the SVAS family will long remember.