March 2017 Faculty Notes

Wes Kenney, director of orchestras at CSU, had a rewarding start to 2017! It was announced by the Fort Collins Symphony Association’s board president Rhett B. Strom that Maestro Kenney signed a five-year contract extension as music director of the 67-year-old organization. Now in his fourteenth year with the symphony, the award-winning conductor will continue leading Fort Collins’ professional orchestra through 2022.  “Fort Collins is incredibly fortunate to have such a talented and visionary Maestro who lives and works in our community,” said Strom. “By giving Maestro Kenney a five-year contract, the board honors his significant contributions to make our symphony vibrant while also recognizing how much more he has to give.” Kenney was hired as music director of the Fort Collins Symphony and director of orchestras at Colorado State University in 2003, and was named as music director of Opera Fort Collins in 2004.

Additionally, Maestro Kenney is the music director of the Denver Young Artist Orchestra (pictured)—the premier youth orchestra of Colo. Kenney and the DYAO were awarded first place in the prestigious American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award in the Performance of American Music, Youth Orchestra division.

Ernst Bacon (1898—1990) was one of that pioneering generation of composers who, along with Thomson, Copland, Harris, and others, found a voice for American music. Winner of a Pulitzer Scholarship (for his Symphony in D minor) and no fewer than three Guggenheim Fellowships, Bacon set out to create compositions that expressed the vitality and affirmative spirit of our country.

The annual award recognizes and rewards the finest performances of American music by orchestras and choruses worldwide, based on submitted recordings. The DYAO received first prize for their recorded performance of Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite.

Dr. James Kim, director of choral activities at CSU and director of the CSU Chamber Choir, is in the midst of his fifth season as artistic director of the Colorado Bach Ensemble. As the ensemble explores and interprets the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, it continues to create a new conversation around the distinctive yet varied musical style of the composer. The ensemble has earned rave reviews for their ability to provide a rare glimpse inside the mind of Bach. ‘It’s our hope to create an experience for young and old that mirrors what I and so many of my colleagues experience through the music of J.S.Bach. It empowers us, sustains us and does nothing less than help us to be better people. It is a necessity, not a luxury,” said Kim. Dr. Kim’s fascinating blog and tickets to events are available at

Don’t miss the Colorado Bach Ensemble’s last performance of the season:

St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244
March 17, 7 p.m., Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village;
March 19, 4 p.m., Montview Presbyterian Church, Denver

Combining orchestra, chorale, and soloists, St. Matthew Passion displays the grandeur and power of Bach’s music. Don’t miss the pre-concert discussion with Dr. Dawn Grapes one hour before each concert. Dr. Grapes is the assistant professor of music history at Colorado State with a special focus on the music of early modern England, music history pedagogy and flute history.


Percussion Professor Shilo Stroman has had a full clinic calendar this winter. In Jan., he presented "Fundamentals of Accessory Percussion" at the Colorado Music Educators Association Clinic-Conference in Jan. “The end of the session was hands on and the directors were able to play through an excerpt I wrote for the clinic.” He presented his clinic, “The Modern Front Ensemble” at the Utah Music Educators Association Mid-Winter Conference held at the St. George Dixie Center on Feb. 3-4, 2017. “There were many questions and I enjoyed my first time at this conference,” he said. Mr. Stroman also presented "Fundamentals of Accessory Percussion" to 400 students and directors from around the state of Colo. at the RMPA (Rocky Mountain Percussion Association) Day of Percussion and I&E Festival on Feb. 4. His presentation included a hands on section where the students were “much more energetic than the band directors!”

Mr. Stroman has also been out about the state, working with Paul Wood’s percussion ensemble at Legacy High School, Karen Crews’ jazz band at Lyons High School and Kyle Freesen’s jazz band at Loveland High School. “It has been my pleasure to be a guest clinician – thanks to these directors for having me in to work with your fantastic students!”

Director of Bands Dr. Rebecca Phillips recently conducted the Maryland All-State Senior High School Band, presented by the Maryland Music Educators Association on Feb. 10-12. Dr. Phillips expressed her enthusiasm about the experience. “Congratulations to the extraordinary and talented students of the Maryland All-State Senior High School Band,” she said. “I had a great time with you this past weekend and it was a treat to hear the level of excellence that each of you brought to the ensemble.” She was also thankful for Maryland’s music teachers saying, “Your dedication to your students and music is evident!” In Feb., Dr. Phillips also worked with Travis Keller’s Symphonic and Concert Bands at Fairview High School in Denver, Colo, and Kyle Freesen’s band students at Loveland High School in Loveland, Colo.

The CSU band directors were on opposite sides of the country as Associate Director of Bands Dr. Richard Frey travelled to Oregon on Feb. 10-12 to be the guest conductor for the Lakeridge High School Wind Ensemble Camp! Hailing from Ore., he said, “It's always wonderful to be home and to see the great teaching happening in Oregon schools!”

The CSU Flute Choir, under the direction of Flute Professor Dr. Michelle Stanley has been accepted to perform at the National Flute Association Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minn. on Aug. 10-13, 2017. Their performance is on Friday evening during the convention. Brava fluters!