Obituary: Donald Thulean, conductor and former League of American Orchestras vice president, 84

Posted on: April 14, 2015

Donald Thulean, a conductor and arts administrator who served as music director of the Spokane Symphony in his home state of Washington from 1962 to 1984 and later served as a vice president at the League of American Orchestras, died April 9 in Seattle at the age of 84. He had suffered a stroke two days earlier. As the Spokane Symphony’s music director, Thulean led its transition from a community orchestra to a fully professional one, and his deep knowledge of the conducting profession was a key asset at the League, where he led artistic programs until his retirement in 1999. Thulean is survived by his wife, Meryl, and their three children.

Commenting on Thulean’s accomplishments at the League, President and CEO Jesse Rosen said, “Don Thulean was a beloved member of the League family for nearly 20 years. He was the League’s first director of artistic programs, and under his leadership hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of American conductors and composers found a caring and wise counselor. Amidst the often random and chaotic process of developing a conducting career, or searching for a music director, Don built programs that systematically identified and developed talent and helped it find its way into orchestras. His Conducting Continuum included conducting workshops, the National Conductor Preview, the Music Director Search Seminar, and the Young Composer Reading Sessions. He also spearheaded the League’s New Music for the New Millennium project and still found time to lead the Orchestra Management Fellowship Program and plan the annual Conference. Most of all, we remember Don for his gentle kindness, his deep feeling for people who make music, and his unflagging desire to help.”

Posted April 14, 2015