You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Former symphony director dies

Jackson Wiley also a founder of Springfield Arts Festival.

Jackson Wiley, who brought modern American composers to life as musical director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and brought the Springfield community together to create the Summer Arts Festival, died Tuesday in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Indianapolis.

His posted obituary said Wiley, who was 92, passed peacefully while surrounded by his family, with whom he’d spent the Labor Day weekend.

A New Jersey native whose contacts with the New York music scene included Charles Mingus and members of The Modern Jazz Quartet, Wiley arrived in Springfield in 1957 speaking fluent Japanese, and with degrees from Yale and Julliard in his pocket.

Ian Polster, whose 50-year stint as an orchestra trombonist began in 1962, called his friend “a real champion of American music” who leveraged his love of that music to raise the orchestra’s level of performance.

“He said if you can do the 20th century stuff” with its challenging rhythms and pitch and unusual technique, Polster recalled, ” the other stuff becomes easier.”

Polster added that Wiley’s New York connections didn’t stop him from being down-to-earth.

“It wasn’t unusual for him to have a hammer in his hands” when it came time to build sets for musicals, and “he was really attached to the community.”

To Wiley, “it didn’t matter who people were, he just became involved and involved them,” he said.

That kind of involvement helped Wiley to create not only the symphony’s Youth Orchestra but perhaps his greatest local legacy: the Springfield Arts Council and its Summer Arts Festival.

Another of Polster’s memories of Wiley is getting a phone call from him after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a request that Polster write a special tribute for that weekend’s symphony performance, and being part of the performance of “Fragment from Memory: April 4, 1968.”

Wiley, who returned to the Summer Arts Festival five years ago to lead the symphony’s performance of Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” left Springfield for a teaching position at Butler University.

He went on to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra of Indianapolis from 1993-2010. After surrendering his baton, he moved into the orchestra’s cello section.

A memorial service will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler. An open house will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., and a musical performance that invites audience participation will begin at 4 p.m.

Survived by wife, Jane, sons Scott, Hunt and Bradford, daughter, Candida, and six grandchildren, Wiley will be honored by the Springfield Symphony at its Oct. 12 concert.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Beatles’ rare outtake from ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sessions released
Beatles’ rare outtake from ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sessions released

It was 50 years ago today … Well, almost. As the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album draws near, Capitol Records is sharing an unreleased outtake from the band’s recording sessions. >> Read more trending news The disc, ranked No. 1 in Rolling Stone’s survey...
Florida elementary school janitor accused of sexting teen
Florida elementary school janitor accused of sexting teen

A Florida elementary school janitor has been suspended after allegedly exchanging explicit photos and texts with a 15-year-old boy, deputies said.  >> Read more trending news Matthew Benedict, 29, of Lake County reportedly gave the teen a cellphone and sexted him, WESH reported.  Even though Benedict worked in the school district...
Showers, storms today through the weekend
Showers, storms today through the weekend

Quiet and cooler Friday morning. Temperatures are more than 20 degrees below where they were Thursday morning. Dry first half of the day Friday  Showers and storms through Monday  Storms could become strong RELATED: County-by-County Forecasts  TODAY: Scattered clouds with highs in the low 70s. Scattered showers and storms develop...
Love me tenders: Woman takes chicken engagement photos
Love me tenders: Woman takes chicken engagement photos

Picture it: Wings, a prayer and an engagement. Love me tender, she said. Or was that tenders? >> Read more trending news Elyse Chelsea Clark said yes to a box of Popeyes fried chicken. “Finally engaged!!” the New Orleans woman announced as she posted a gallery of photos to Facebook on April 26, reported. “I never...
Albino catfish snags pacifier at Virginia museum
Albino catfish snags pacifier at Virginia museum

It was the catch of the day for a fish at the Virginia Living Museum. >> Read more trending news  When a young guest dropped a pacifier in the museum’s Cypress Swamp exhibit earlier this week, an albino catfish caught it and began sucking on it, WTVR reported. Museum staff members were able to retrieve the pacifier and returned...
More Stories