Freedom From Fear Ensembles
KU Wind Ensemble
Described by the New York Times as “one of America’s most esteemed concert bands,” the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble is the premier wind band at the University of Kansas and is conducted by Paul W. Popiel, director of bands. Their Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 was described by Feast of Music as “showing amazing chops in their transitions and an impressive range of dynamics” and by the New York Times as “performing with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation.” The Wind Ensemble performed for President Obama for his address to the University of Kansas in January 2015.
The band enjoys a long history of excellence and musical leadership in the State of Kansas, across the nation, and around the world. Former conductors include Russell Wiley, Kenneth Bloomquist, Robert E. Foster, John Lynch, and Scott Weiss. The ensemble is at the forefront of commercial wind band recordings, and can be heard on the Klavier, Naxos Wind Band Classics, Ecstatic, and Mark Custom labels. Their 2013 release, In the Shadow of No Towers, was described in Gramophone Magazine as “...eloquent, disciplined performances that come across with stunning dynamic range and almost dimensional transparency.” Their most recent album, Of Shadow and Light, was released on the Klavier label in 2017.
The band has hosted numerous composers including John Corigliano, Frank Ticheli, Steven Bryant, Kevin Walczyk, Joni Greene, Aaron Perrine, Michael Torke, Joel Puckett, John Mackey, Mohammed Fairouz, and Eric Ewazen; as well as guest conductors Dai Zhonghui, Michelle Rakers, John Whitwell, H. Robert Reynolds, and Mallory Thompson. Guest soloists performing with the Wind Ensemble include Jim Walker, Gail Williams, Jeff Nelsen, Jon Lewis, Joey Tartell, the Boston Brass, and Chris Vadala.
KU Jazz Ensemble
The University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, is the flagship ensemble within the KU Jazz Studies Program. The program has received 25 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2015 award in the Graduate Division for Best College Big Band in the United States or Canada, and their Outstanding Performance Award in the same division in 2017. In April 2016, the ensemble performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City with internationally acclaimed vocalist Deborah Brown, and the band was one of six college finalists that performed at the 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.
In July 2014, Jazz Ensemble I played eight shows in 11 days as part of an European tour that included appearances by invitation at two of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals — the Montreux Jazz Festival, where the band performed twice, and the Jazz À Vienne Festival. The ensemble has also been featured at International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in New York City, Boston and Atlanta with guest soloists including Dave Liebman, Jim McNeely and Rick Margitza, and guest composer/conductor Maria Schneider. Other major appearances include two recent concerts at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Jazz Ensemble I has had the distinction of performing with such noted guest artists as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Clark Terry, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sean Jones, Kneebody, Steve Wilson, Dave Douglas, Louie Bellson, Tim Ries, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, Conrad Herwig, Bob Sheppard, Gary Foster, Steve Houghton, Bob Mintzer, Bobby Shew, Carl Fontana, Dick Oatts, Frank Mantooth, Ingrid Jensen, Jon Hendricks, Pete Christlieb and many others.