FCS Music Director

Maestro Wes Kenney

Wes Kenney Conductor
Maestro Wes Kenney

Wes Kenney is in his 21st season as Music Director of the Fort Collins (Colorado) Symphony and is now Professor Emeritus at Colorado State University after retiring as Director of Orchestras in May 2023.  Maestro Kenney concluded his tenure after conducting two critically acclaimed performances of the Mahler Symphony No. 3. In 2022, he was named a University Distinguished Professor, the highest honor the university can award. During 2020, he was honored as an American Prize Winner in the following categories:  Best Orchestral Performance in the Professional Orchestra Division, Honored Artist, and Programming. He was the 2020 Ernst Bacon Memorial Prize winner for excellence in the performance of American Music, and received the 2007 Grand Prize Winner at Bulgaria’s Varna International Conducting Competition.

Wes Kenney also just completed his tenth and final season with Denver Young Artist Orchestra—the premier youth orchestra in the State of Colorado. He directed that orchestra on two European tours and anchored two festivals at Carnegie Hall. In June of 2023, he led DYAO on tour to Southern California where the audience responded with a standing ovation at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Mr. Kenney’s guest conducting credits include: the Acadiana Symphony (LA), Alabama Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Lafayette (IN) Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Richmond Symphony (VA), Riverside Symphonia, Savannah Symphony (GA), and the Virginia Symphony. His international guest conducting includes performances with the Liev Philharmonic (Ukraine), Changwon Philharmonic (South Korea), Vietnam National Symphony (Hanoi), Vidin State Philharmonic, Stara Zagora Opera Company (Bulgaria) and the Edinburgh Music Festival (Scotland). 

Kenney has enjoyed success directing opera, ballet, and musical theater. Previous positions include: Music Director of Opera Fort Collins, Music Director of the Virginia Ballet Theater, Co-Principal Conductor of the Oakland Lyric Opera, and Guest Conductor with Universal Ballet Korea. Since 2004 he has conducted much of the major opera repertoire, notably two productions of Puccini’s Turandot, the twin bill of Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana, La Boheme, Carmen, Otello, Tosca, Barber of Seville, Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto, Cenerentola, Die Zauberflote, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Falstaff, Turandot, Marriage of Figaro, Aida, Don Giovanni, and Tenderland. In addition, he has conducted over two hundred performances of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Firebird, and many other dance works.

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

Named 2008 Educator of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the American String Teachers Association, Kenney has served as Guest Conductor with the Alabama, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Virginia All-State Orchestras. Awarded the prestigious Carmen Dragon Conducting Prize in 1992, Wes Kenney is a founder of the CSU Summer Master of Music Education (now in its 15th year) which has an emphasis in conducting. He has been a guest lecturer at the Conductor’s Institute held at Bard College in upstate New York, teaching alongside the late 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 its 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.