Paul W. Popiel

Director, Bands
Primary office:
124 B Murphy Hall

D.M.A. Michigan State University; Postgraduate Diploma University of Bristol; M.M. University of Notre Dame; B.A. Truman State University

Paul W. Popiel is the Director of Bands at the University of Kansas, only the seventh person to hold this position in the band's storied 125-year history. Dr. Popiel conducts the KU Wind Ensemble, directs the graduate program in wind conducting, and guides all aspects of the university band program. His previous appointments include the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Oklahoma State University. He also enjoyed six years teaching in the public schools of Texas and Michigan.

His Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 was heralded by the New York Times: “The ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, performed with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation;” while New York’s Feast of Music said, “Give credit to Popiel, a strong advocate for new music, who went for broke, succeeding in showing us that there is, in fact, real, adventurous music being made over on the other side of the rainbow.”

Popiel has lectured and performed throughout North America, Europe, Singapore, and Japan. He has produced several CDs for the Wind Band Classics series on the Naxos label, leading the KU Wind Ensemble on the project, "Landscapes", featuring the music of Michael Torke, Aaron Copland, and Frank Ticheli, which was released in March 2013. His latest recording project featured the premiere recording of Mohammed Fairouz’s In the Shadow of No Towers: Symphony No. 4 and Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, which rose to the Top 20 on the iTunes Classical music chart in 2014. 

Popiel is a contributing author to several volumes of the renowned series, Teaching Music through Performance in Band, as well as the journal Alta Musica. His recent lectures on wind band literature include Hammelburg, Germany; Coimbra, Portugal; and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for winds, including pieces by composers Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Torke, Kevin Walczyk, James Barnes, David Dzubay, Tamar Diesendruck, and Joni Greene. In 2013, Popiel was elected to the membership of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, known for the Grammy Awards.

Popiel holds degrees from Truman State University, the University of Notre Dame, and Michigan State University. A recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, he also earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Twentieth-Century Music at the University of Bristol, England. Popiel was also the Frank L. Battisti Conducting Fellow serving as the Resident Conductor of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Paul, his wife Julie, and their two sons, Nicholas and Keith, live in Lawrence, Kansas.

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