Meet Maestro Wes Kenney

For our 2021-22 season, Reflections, we have highlighted many FCS musicians on our Facebook and Instagram pages under the campaign #MusicianMonday.

To close out this fantastic season, we wanted to spotlight the musician in charge of all that we’ve accomplished this year: FCS Music Director Maestro Wes Kenney.

Wes and Leslie Kenney at Fox Acres
Wes and Leslie Kenney at Fox Acres

How long have you been with the Fort Collins Symphony?

Wes Kenney: 19 years. My audition took place in the spring of 2003 as part of a joint search with Colorado State University. This was the scenario that Will Schwartz held for about 50 years.

There have been many great moments with the Fort Collins Symphony: All 9 Beethoven symphonies, all four Brahms symphonies, music from a vast variety of cultures, world premieres, Western U.S. premieres, and Colorado premiers, major pops concerts, and great guest artists including Joe Alessi and Michelle Kim from the New York Philharmonic, cellist Zuill Bailey, and Elizabeth Pitcairn, the owner of the Red Violin.

What other organizations do you work with?

WK: I have been the Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University, also for 19 years. Nine years ago, I became Music Director of the Denver Young Artist Orchestra, the premier youth orchestra in the state of Colorado. I was also Music Director for Opera Fort Collins for about 17 years.

Holiday Twin 4th of July during the pandemic
FCS at the Holiday Twin Drive-Inn, July 4, 2020
Wes announcing the CSU football game
Maestro Kenney announcing a CSU Football game

What do you like to do outside of music?

WK: My kitchen is an oasis where I create gourmet meals for friends, family, and donors to the Fort Collins Symphony. For the latter, the meal is always themed to the repertoire of the current concert. For example, for an All-British concert awhile back I made Beef Wellington and served English Trifle for dessert. For a French concert there have been sweet and savory crepes or a Beef Bourguignon.

I also enjoy watching films and sporting events, as well as reading mystery and thriller novels. And then, there are the Christmas decorations . . . see the photos. Gardening is also an enjoyable activity.

Kenney house at Christmas
The Kenney house at Christmas
Wes and Leslie at a baseball game
Wes and Leslie at a Minnesota Twins game

What are some unique facts about you, or do you have any unusual hobbies?

WK: Before moving to Colorado, I was a skier, but hadn’t done much when living in Virginia. When I came out west again, it occurred to me in the spring there was the possibility of skiing and playing golf on the same day. So, I created the Colorado 36: 18 ski runs in the morning, then 18 holes of golf in the afternoon. I’ve been doing this every year now for about 10 years. Add in another good Colorado pastime—beer—and you have a true Colorado 54!

Wes and Leslie also have a bucket list of attending a game in every MLB park. So far, they have gotten to half!

Two other accomplishments: in 2018 I scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro and I have skied glaciers in Courchevel, France, the world’s ski capital.

The top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Halfway to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
On the climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro

Off the podium, what do you like to listen to?

WK: Believe it or not, when in my car I’m usually listening to the news. However, I do enjoy my generation’s classic rock (the Beatles, Beach Boys, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Electric Light Orchestra) as well as discovering new works for orchestra that I might hear on CPR.

Wes Skiing
Maestro Kenney skiing in Chourchevel, France
A tree in the sunshine
A tree outside the Kenney house in the Fall