Remembering Jackson Wiley

Melissa Iannuzzi | Assistant News Editor


Professor Emeritus Jackson Wiley, the conductor of the Butler Symphony Orchestra from 1969 to 1991, died Sept. 3. He was 92 years old.

“He whirled with a high purpose, not wildly but with an energy that took us all to high achievements,” said James Briscoe, professor of historical musicology in a press release from Butler University.

He is survived by his wife, Jane; his children Candida, Scott, Hunt, and Bradford; and his grandchildren, Theodore, Nathaniel, Jackson, Elizabeth, Chloe and Audree.

The third of five children, he also leaves behind his two brothers, Joseph and Steven.

He attended Yale University on a full scholarship before serving in World War II.

After coming back from the war, Wiley studied at Juilliard. When he graduated he performed in various freelance concerts and recordings. His first salaried conducting position came when he was 36 years old at Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Ohio.

Over time, he took on a new youth orchestra and civic chorus, an orchestra at Wittenberg University, a Wittenberg Trio, a column every Sunday in the local newspaper and a weekly radio program

In his 12 years conducting in Springfield, Wiley made annual visits to Butler’s dance program. When Butler needed a conductor, Jackson Ehlert, dean of the former Jordan College of Fine Arts, contacted Wiley.

“There were many new possibilities at Butler,” Wiley said in the press release. “A Greater Indianapolis Youth Symphony to form, an opera workshop revived, and the Romantic Festival under Frank Cooper in full force.”

Underclassman currently pursuing a degree in music are eligible for the Jackson Wiley Scholarship. Butler created the scholarship and held a tribute concert in Wiley’s honor in 2007.

After his retirement, Wiley conducted the Indianapolis Philharmonic Orchestra.

“He mounted, produced and conducted some amazing performances, participation in which were some of my proudest moments at Butler,” Robert Grechesky, wind ensemble director, said in the release.