Maestro Wes Kenney Selected as Honored Artist of the American Prize

Maestro Wes Kenney

The Fort Collins Symphony’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Maestro Wes Kenney is one of six musicians and ensembles recently selected as Honored Artist of the American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts. According to David Katz, American Prize founder and chief judge, Maestro Kenney “has proven himself to be an artist of sustained excellence.”

Founded in 2010, the American Prize is the nation’s most comprehensive series of contests in the musical arts. The nonprofit organization evaluates, recognizes, and rewards the best performers, composers, conductors, ensembles, and directors in the United States, at professional, college/university, community and school levels. Maestro Kenney has won multiple performance prizes in each of the past four years.

The 2007 Grand Prize Winner of the Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition, a winner of the Ernst Bacon Memorial Prize for excellence in performance of American Music, and now an American Prize Winner for best orchestral performance in the Youth Orchestra Division, Wes Kenney is celebrating his 17th season as Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony and Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University. In 2004, he was named to an additional post as Music Director of Opera Fort Collins where he served until 2020.  Wes Kenney is also in his seventh season with Denver Young Artist Orchestra—the premiere youth orchestra in the state of Colorado and has led them on two European tours as well as performing twice at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Kenney’s guest conducting activities include the Acadiana Symphony (LA), Alabama Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, Lafayette (IN) Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Riverside Symphonia, Savannah Symphony, and the Virginia Symphony. International guest conducting includes performances with the Changwon (South Korea) Philharmonic, Lviv (Ukraine) Philharmonic, Vietnam National Symphony (Hanoi), Vidin State Philharmonic, Stara Zagora Opera Company in Bulgaria as well as the Edinburgh (Scotland) Music 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. 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.

Named Educator of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the American String Teachers Association in 2008, Mr. Kenney enjoys working with young people in his position as Director of Orchestras at Colorado State University and has served as Guest Conductor with the Alabama, New Hampshire, New Mexico, 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 with an emphasis in conducting program, now in its 12th year.

Mr. Kenney is a past president of the Conductors Guild, a 2000 member service organization to the conducting profession. 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.