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Wes Kenney, Music Director & Young Artists Orchestra Conductor

Wes Kenney in now celebrating his seventh season with the Denver Young Artist Orchestra. During that time, he has taken the Young Artist Orchestra to successful performances at Carnegie Hall in 2016, and two European tours in 2014 and 2019. That New York appearance helped the orchestra win the Ernst Bacon award from the American Prize for outstanding performance of contemporary music and recognition by the city of Denver for outreach. Under his leadership, the Young Artist Orchestra has also won the American Prize for performance in the Youth Orchestra Division for 2018 and received second place for the prize in 2019. 

Mr. Kenney is the 2007 Grand Prize Winner of the Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition. He is now in his 17th season as Music Director of the Fort Collins (Colorado) Symphony and Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University. Named in 2004 to an additional post as Music Director of Opera Fort Collins, he currently conducts three professional operatic productions as well as numerous orchestra concerts and dance performances each season throughout Northern Colorado.

Mr. Kenney’s recent guest conducting activities include the Denver Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Colorado Music Festival, Acadiana Symphony (LA), Lafayette (IN) Symphony, and both New Hampshire and New Mexico All-State. International appearances include the Vietnam National Symphony (Hanoi), the Changwon Philharmonic (South Korea), the Vidin State Philharmonic and Stara Zagora Opera Company in Bulgaria as well as the Edinburgh (Scotland) Music Festival. He has also conducted the Alabama All-State Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Virginia Symphony, Alabama Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, and the Richmond Symphony. 

In six seasons as the Virginia Symphony’s Associate Conductor, Mr. Kenney appeared more than 350 times with that orchestra where he was responsible for programming and conducting Pops, Family and Young People’s Concerts. During his tenure with the Virginia Symphony, he was also invited to guest conduct the Williamsburg Symphonia, Virginia Chorale, Norfolk Chamber Consort and Virginia Waterfront International Arts Festival.

Mr. Kenney has also enjoyed success directing opera, ballet and musical theater. Previous positions include Music Director of the Virginia Ballet Theater, Co-Principal Conductor of the Oakland Lyric Opera, and Guest Conductor with Universal Ballet Korea. During the 2014-2015 Season, he conducted productions of Follies, Gianni Schicchi, Idomeneo, and Lucia di Lammermoor. In the past ten seasons he has been on the podium for Carmen, Cosi fan tutte, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Sweeney Todd, Turn of the Screw, Barber of Seville, Madama Butterfly, Cenerentola, Rigoletto, Tosca, Die Zauberflote, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Street Scene, La Boheme, Pagliacci, Cavelleria Rusticana, Falstaff, Turandot, Marriage of Figaro, The Merry Widow, Aida, Don Giovanni, and Tenderland. In addition, he has conducted over one hundred performances of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Firebird, and many other dance works.

Named Educator of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the American String Teachers Association in 2008, Mr. Kenney enjoys working with talented young people in his position as Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University and has served as Guest Conductor with the Alabama, New Mexico, and Virginia All-State Orchestras. Awarded the prestigious Carmen Dragon Conducting Prize in 1992, Wes Kenney served as Music Director of the Oakland Youth Orchestra for five seasons. He regularly presents at state and national music educators events, most recently last March in Albuquerque, NM at the American String Teachers Association conference. 

Mr. Kenney is one of the founders of the CSU Summer Masters Degree program for working Music Educators and has helped over 60 professionals earn their MME degrees with an emphasis in conducting. As a conducting teacher, he has taught many workshops including a Conductors Guild workshop at CSU and at the Conductor’s Institute held at Bard College in upstate New York, teaching alongside founder Harold Farberman and American Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leon Botstein.  

Mr. Kenney is a past president of the Conductors Guild, a 2000 member service organization to the conducting profession. He currently is on the Guild’s advisory board. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and San Francisco State University. Additional studies include three years as a fellow at the Conductors Institute, several American Symphony Orchestra League and Conductors Guild Workshops, and the Sandpoint Festival.  His teachers include Harold Farberman, Hans Beer, Gunther Schuller, Hans Swarovsky and Miltiardes Carides.

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