About Nikolas Caoile

Learn a little about our Music Director Candidate, Nikolas Caoile!

1. His first instrument was the piano: Caoile began playing the piano at the age of 6, and continues to play today throughout the region as a collaborative pianist.

2. He started off by studying pre-med: While enrolled at Willamette University in a pre-med track, Caoile took conducting lessons from Bruce McIntosh, leading to a chance to conduct the Salem Chamber Orchestra, and he hasn't looked back since.

3. He took a class with Lorin Maazel: Describing it as his “most memorable experience” in music, Caoile participated in a masterclass with Maazel at the University of Michigan. Knowing that Maestro Maazel had a photographic memory, Caoile “spent hours and hours, and several sleepless nights, preparing for the class.”

4. If he were playing in the ASO orchestra on the 30th, he would want to play the snare drum. Growing up playing percussion gave Caoile a love for and certain insight to percussion parts, and he enjoys the driving and imposing rhythm of the snare drum, and its effect in representing Shostakovich’s Russia.

Caoile with Maazel at the University of Michigan

Caoile with Maazel at the University of Michigan

Nikolas Caoile is a conductor, pianist, and music educator. Currently, he is Music Director and Conductor of the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras at Central Washington University. In 2016, Caoile was appointed Associate Chair and Graduate Coordinator. He served as the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Salem Chamber Orchestra from 2012-2016. He has guest conducted many other orchestras including: Philharmonic Orchestral of the Americas, Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Northwest Mahler Festival Orchestra, Rainier Symphony, Yakima Symphony, Gig Harbor Symphony, Lake Avenue Orchestra, and the Olympia Symphony. He made his New York City debut in 2009 conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in collaboration with the Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses Dance Company at New York City Center. Caoile participated at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music where he worked with Marin Alsop and Gustav Meier. In the 2016-2017 season, Caoile will guest conduct Auburn Symphony, Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers (OSSCS), and the Idaho All-State Orchestra.


A passionate believer in music education for all ages, Caoile has led numerous educational and community engagement concerts including the Alaska and Indiana All-State Orchestras, the Washington All-State Jr. Orchestra as well as many regional honor orchestras in Washington, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, Oregon and Indiana. In 2016, Caoile received the Outstanding Orchestral Achievement Award from the Washington Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Caoile regularly presents clinics at National Association for Music Educators Regional and State Conferences and has served as a presenter for Seattle Symphony Pre-concert Talk series. Caoile is conductor of several orchestra festivals and workshops including the Kairos Lyceum, Icicle Creek Summer Symphony, and the Orchestra Leadership Workshop at CWU.


Caoile is a frequent collaborative pianist performing throughout the Northwest. Caoile collaborates regularly with violinist Denise Dillenbeck, flutist Sarah Tiedemann, mezzo-soprano Melissa Schiel, and cellist John Michel. In the 2016-17 season, Caoile will perform with Michel (works by Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, and Bern Herbolsheimer). 

Born in Portland, Nikolas Caoile now resides in Ellensburg WA with his wife, mezzo-soprano, Melissa Schiel and their son, Kieran. Caoile holds degrees in conducting and composition and completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan. In 2013, he accepted a nomination to join Phi Beta Kappa as a member of the Willamette chapter, Delta of Oregon. His principal teachers are Kenneth Kiesler, Gustav Meier, and Peter Erös. Caoile also enjoys playing golf, NYT Crosswords and cooking.