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Vilem Sokol

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Vilem SOKOL Known familiarly as 'Bill," Vilem died August 19, 2011, after suffering cancer. Vilem was born May 22, 1915, to Frank and Matilda Sokol, in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He began violin instruction in elementary school, later studying with the world-renowned pedagogue, Otakar Sevcik. He continued studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Julliard School of Music and the State Conservatory of Music in Prague. In 1942, Vilem was drafted into the Army Air Force where he met and married the lovely Agatha Hoeschele in 1945. They raised ten children. Before coming to Seattle, Vilem taught at Shorter College in Georgia, the University of Kentucky, and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. In 1948 he joined the University of Washington faculty where he became a music professor, teaching violin, viola, conducting, and his popular music appreciation classes. Among his many contributions to Seattle's music life, he founded and directed the Seattle String Society, and appeared frequently on local television and radio programs. He was principal violist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra from 1959 - 62 and conducted many of its Young People's concerts. 1960 marked the year Vilem began his legendary career as conductor of the Seattle Youth Symphony. Under his direction, the orchestra attained national and international recognition, and became the standard bearer for youth symphonies the world over. During his 28-year tenure, the SYSO performed many world premiers, USA premiers, and first performances in Seattle and the Northwest. Outstanding among them, the historic 1972 Northwest premiere of Mahler's 10th Symphony, third-ever performance in the world. Vilem was a frequent guest conductor at youth orchestra festivals, and served for five years as head of the Youth Symphony Division of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Though grateful for the many music and arts awards received over the years, Vilem's greatest honor was having made a difference in thousands of young lives. Vilem and his wife Agatha were devout Catholics, actively involved in their faith. He is survived by his children, Mark (Elaine Langois), Damian (Janet Kehl), Anne (Larry Philpott), Paula (Anthony Elliott), Angela (Randal Russell), Rebecca (Glenn Duncan), Sr. Claire Sokol, OCD, Mary (David Brown), Jennifer, John (Maria), as well as 21 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. A Rosary Vigil will be held, August 24, 7 pm at Bonney Watson Funeral Home in Seattle. Mass of the Resurrection will take place August 25, 10 am, at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Burial service immediately following at Holyrood Cemetery in Shoreline. In lieu of flowers, donations in Vilem's memory may be made to the music program at Seattle's St. James Cathedral or to the Carmelite Monastery, 1950 La Fond Drive, Reno, Nevada, 89509.
Published in The Seattle Times on Aug. 21, 2011
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