The Fort Collins Symphony Association’s board president Walt Elish announced recently that Maestro Wes Kenney has signed a five-year contract extension as Music Director. Now in his nineteenth year, the award-winning conductor will continue leading Fort Collins’ professional orchestra through 2027. Under Kenney’s baton, the orchestra returns to the Fort Collins Lincoln Center’s stage on Saturday, October 2, 2021.
According to Elish, “Under Maestro Kenney’s leadership, the Fort Collins Symphony has been recognized for its stellar orchestra, diverse programming, founding the B Sharp Arts Engagement program for those living with dementia, and for its efforts to keep musicians employed and the community engaged during the pandemic. 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.” In response to receiving the contract extension, Kenney said, “It is with great gratitude that I thank the board for their continued support of my work with the Fort Collins Symphony. I look forward to continuing the great relationship I have with our administration, staff, and of course our fabulous musicians!”
Wes Kenney was hired as the Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony and Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University in 2003. He was awarded the prestigious Carmen Dragon Conducting Prize in 1992. Kenney is the 2007 Grand Prize Winner of the Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition, a multiple winner of the Ernst Bacon Memorial Prize for Excellence in Performance of American Music, an American Prize winner for best orchestral performance in the Youth Orchestra Division, and a finalist for the American Prize for Orchestral Performance for the Fort Collins Symphony’s performance of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 9. Maestro Kenney was recently selected as Honored Artist of the American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts. He also was named Educator of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the American String Teachers Association in 2008.
Now in its 15th year, Kenney is a founder of the CSU Summer Master of Music Education with an emphasis on conducting a program. In addition, he is in his ninth season as music director with Denver Young Artist Orchestra, Colorado’s premier youth orchestra. From 2004 to 2020, Kenney served as Music Director for Opera Fort Collins. 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.
Maestro Kenney’s guest conducting activities include Louisiana’s Acadiana Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Alabama All-State Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Indiana’s Lafayette Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Minnesota All-State Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, New Mexico All-State Orchestra (twice), New Hampshire All-State Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Riverside Symphonia, Savannah Symphony, and the Virginia Symphony. International guest conducting includes performances with South Korea’s Changwon Philharmonic, Hanoi’s Vietnam National Symphony, Vidin State Philharmonic, and Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora Opera Company, and the Edinburgh Music Festival.
Maestro Kenney is a graduate of the University of Southern California and San Francisco State University. His teachers included Harold Farberman, Hans Beer, Gunther Schuller, Hans Swarovsky, and Miltiardes Carides. He and his wife Leslie, dog Nikki, and cat Midori reside in Fort Collins.