Paul Edward Oakley
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 12:00 am
Paul Edward Oakley, 52, of Owensboro passed away at 4 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, at Owensboro Medical Health System. He was born on Dec. 16, 1959, in Lincoln Park, Mich.
Professor Oakley graduated from Central High School in Pueblo, Colo., Friends University in Wichita, Kan., and Boston University. He was a professor of music and director of choral and sacred music studies at Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he introduced The Festival of Lessons and Carols, and led the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers in performances throughout Kentucky and many other states. He was also the music director at First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro. Oakley was an internationally known choral and orchestral conductor, concert organist, jazz and gospel musician and a highly respected clinician and collaborative pianist.
Maestro Oakley was a frequent guest conductor of the New York City Chamber Orchestra. He served as the music director and principal conductor of the Ethos Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Singers in Charlotte, N.C., and he was the music director of the Bach Society of Minnesota for 10 years. He prepared choruses and was a keyboard musician for Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin and many other great conductors. He regularly performed with the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
He performed with Kathleen Battle, Doc Severinson and numerous other significant artists as a pianist and organist. Professor Oakley performed in many respected venues, including the White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and in cathedrals throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Professor Oakley was widely known for his work with young singers, and each year he conducted numerous All-State high school choir and festival honor choruses throughout the U.S. and abroad.
He was the artist-in-residence in conducting and the college organist at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., prior to his arrival at KWC in 2011. He had also taught at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., The Hartt School in Hartford, Conn., and Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn.
Oakley was a mentor to countless students around the world during his 30 years as a teacher, and although an accomplished artist himself, he reveled in his students' achievements as his greatest success. He celebrated life with a joy expressed through music and unparalleled enthusiasm and humor that did not diminish as he confronted cancer with resolute courage.
Paul Oakley is survived by his parents, Dr. William P. and Pattye Oakley, of Dyersburg, Tenn.; siblings, Joseph Oakley of Grand Prairie, Texas, Libby George of Dyer, Tenn., Diana Seymour of Plano, Texas and Michelle Walker of Blytheville, Ark.; nephews, a niece and his partner of 25 years, Dennis Jewett.
A private family funeral is at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Trimble, Tenn. Burial will follow in Dyersburg. A public "Celebration of Life" is at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to the Choral Music Fund at Kentucky Wesleyan College, 3000 Frederica St., Owensboro, KY 42301.