Freedom From Fear Artists
Kevin Walczyk, composer
A native of Portland Oregon, Kevin Walczyk received a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from Pacific Lutheran University and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of North Texas where he was the recipient of the Hexter Prize for outstanding graduate student. Walczyk’s principal composition instructors have included Larry Austin, Jacob Avshalomov, Thomas Clark, Martin Mailman, and Cindy McTee. As an accomplished jazz arranger and composer, Walczyk refined his craft with prominent jazz arrangers Tom Kubis and Frank Mantooth and served as arranger for the renowned University of North Texas One O’clock Lab Band.
Walczyk is professor of music at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon where he teaches composition, orchestration, jazz arranging, and film scoring/media production. He has served as resident composition instructor and/or guest composer of young composer initiatives with the Oregon Symphony, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Metropolitan Learning Center of Portland, and International School of Brussels Belgium. Walczyk has also served as guest composer at numerous universities, including Indiana University, University of Oklahoma, Northwestern University, Mary Washington University, University of South Carolina, University of North Texas, and University of Kansas.
Walczyk’s composition honors include nominations for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music composition (2011) and the Grawemeyer Award (2012). His recent prizes include the ninth annual Raymond & Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize (2012) and the 2012 Big East Conference Band Director’s Association Composition Contest. Walczyk was selected as the Midwest Clinic 2010 commissioned composer and was selected for a special commission for the 2011 Midwest Clinic international conference. For his commitment to composing for the wind ensemble, Walczyk was elected into membership of the American Bandmasters Association in 2017.
Walczyk’s works have been featured throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Belgium, Ukraine, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, and Peru. His commissions include the Oregon Symphony, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Third Angle Contemporary Music Ensemble, Master Musicians Collective, Portland Brass Society, SoundMoves, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, Art Abrams Swing Machine Big Band, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Hutchin’s Consort, American Guild of Organists, Institute of Chamber Music, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and many professional musicians, educators, and arts-in-education residencies. Walczyk’s concertos have been commissioned by such luminaries as trumpet virtuoso Tim Morrison (Boston Symphony), trombonist Pete Ellefson (Seattle Symphony; Indiana University), and clarinetist Joseph LeBlanc (The President’s Own Marine Band).
Walczyk resides in McMinnville Oregon with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Gabriel and Sophia.
Paul W. Popiel, conductor
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. 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 several 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.” The band’s recent performances have been acclaimed by The New York Times, Gramophone, Feast of Music, Fanfare, and the American Record Guide.
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 Oberwolz, Austria; Hammelburg, Germany; Coimbra, Portugal; and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. He has lectured and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Singapore, and Japan. He has several highly acclaimed performance and production credits for CDs on the Klavier, Naxos, Ecstatic, Summit, and Mark Custom labels. His latest recording project featured the premiere recordings of works by Joel Puckett, Aaron Perrine, John Mackey, James Barnes, and Joni Greene.
A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for winds, including pieces by composers John Corigliano, Joel Puckett, Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Torke, Kevin Walczyk, James Barnes, David Dzubay, Joni Greene, and others.
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, his wife Julie, and their two sons, Nicholas and Keith, live in Lawrence, Kansas.
Dan Gailey, director
Dan Gailey is the director of jazz studies and professor of music at the University of Kansas, where he directs Jazz Ensemble I, teaches courses in jazz composition, arranging, and pedagogy, and produces the annual KU Jazz Festival. He has been named to a coveted Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship at KU in Fall 2017, and was the first recipient of the KU School of Music Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2016.
Gailey is the recipient of the 1996 IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, presented to an emerging jazz composer from an international field of candidates. Under his direction, the KU Jazz Studies Program has been the recipient of 25 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2015 award for Best College Jazz Ensemble in the Graduate Division and their Outstanding Performance Award in the same category in 2017.
As director of KU Jazz Ensemble I, Gailey has led performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the 2008 and 2014 Montreux Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, the 2014 Jazz a Vienne Festival in France, the 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival in California, and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. He also directed the band in invited appearances at International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in New York City, Atlanta and Boston.
The Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra debut CD What Did You Dream? was released in July 2010 on Origin/OA2 Records and features all original compositions by Gailey. The CD spent almost two years on the JazzWeek Radio Airplay charts, and received very favorable reviews from JAZZIZ, JazzTimes and Cadence magazines, among others.
Gailey has directed all-state high school jazz ensembles in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, along with the 2015 NAfME All-Northwest Jazz Ensemble and the 1996 National Band Association National High School Ensemble. He holds degrees from the University of Northern Colorado (MM) and Pacific Lutheran University (BM).
Gretchen Pile, soprano
Soprano Gretchen Pille hails from Omaha, Nebraska. A champion for new music, Pille has organized and sung on several Liederabends of new art songs and premiered the title role in the experimental musical My Name is Sallie for the Spencer Museum of Art in Fall 2017. In May she will premiere Vaults of Silver, a piece written for organ, tenor, soprano and choir. Recent stage roles include Cundegonde in Candide, Alexandra (Zan) in Regina, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Mlle. Silberklang in The Impresario, and Muffin in William Bolcom’s A Wedding.
Ashton Rapp, boy soprano
Ashton Rapp is from Lawrence, Kansas and the son of Brandon and Paula Rapp. The 14-year-old attends eighth grade at South Middle School. Ashton discovered his love of music in the second grade through the Lawrence Children’s Choir. LCC has provided the necessary musical instruction, discipline, experience, and confidence that has also assisted him on stage in many performances at Theatre Lawrence, in school plays, playing percussion in band, and in other areas of his life such as martial arts and 4-H. Ashton is extremely honored to be a part of this amazing project with KU.