Wes Kenney was recently named a 2020 Honored Artist by The American Prize. He is now in his eighteenth year as professor of music and director of orchestras at Colorado State University. He conducts the University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra as well as Ralph Opera Program productions and teaches graduate conducting. Mr. Kenney has led the orchestra to many new milestones, including first ever at CSU performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Mahler symphonies No. 1 and 5, two Strauss tone poems, the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, and the Bruckner Symphony No. 5. In 2014 he was named music director of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra—the premiere youth orchestra in the state of Colorado—and has taken that orchestra on two tours through Italy, France, Austria, Czech Republic, and Spain. He has also led them in two well-received concerts at Carnegie Hall. With Mr. Kenney on the podium, DYAO has won multiple prizes for its performances and presentation of contemporary music.
Mr. Kenney is also currently in his 18th season as music director of the fully professional Fort Collins Symphony, notable this past year for being the only orchestra in the country to play a live concert on July 4, 2020. In the summer of 2004, he was named to an additional post of music director of Opera Fort Collins, helping that organization establish a full season of three productions a year. Mr. Kenney was named the 2009 Outstanding Teacher by the Colorado American String Teachers Association. He was also awarded the Grand Prize in the summer 2007 Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition. He traveled back to Bulgaria in 2008 for concerts in Vidin and to conduct La Traviata in Stara Zagora.
Mr. Kenney is a frequent guest conductor of professional and educational ensembles. Recent appearances include the Lviv (Ukraine) Philharmonic, Changwon (South Korea) Philharmonic, Vietnamese National Symphony Orchestra (Hanoi), Colorado Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Lafayette (IN) Symphony and the Acadiana Symphony (LA). He has conducted New Mexico All-State, Virginia All-State, Alabama All-State, and New Hampshire All-State Orchestra. He has given orchestra clinics in all corners of Colorado and is sought after for sessions at the Colorado Music Educators Association Conference. Mr. Kenney is a former president of the Conductors Guild and serves currently on their advisory board.
Mr. Kenney is also in demand as a conducting pedagogue. He has taught alongside Jorge Mester in a Conductors Guild sponsored workshop at CSU and Larry Livingston at CMEA. He has been a guest lecturer at the Conductor’s Institute held at Bard College in upstate New York, teaching alongside founder (and the late) Harold Farberman and American Symphony Orchestra music director Leon Botstein. He is also one of the founders of the CSU’s Master of Music, Music Education—Conducting Specialization; featuring a summer seminar, the program is designed to allow Music Educators the opportunity to earn a graduate degree while furthering their conducting studies and remaining in their current position.
Education: San Francisco State University, University of Southern California, Conductors Institute, Hochschule fur Musik and Darstellende Kunst (Vienna).
M.M. Conducting, San Francisco State University; B.A. Music, University of Southern California