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Palos Nuevos Artists


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 Venne 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).


Beau Bledsoe, guitar

Beau Bledsoe regularly performs and records with some of the greatest artists in Tango, Flamenco, and classical music as he seeks to integrate different musical cultures with diverse audiences. Bledsoe studied classical guitar at the UMKC Conservatory of Music where he received a Master of Music. There he continued his professional career in the fertile ground of the Kansas City music scene playing with jazz musicians, classical chamber musicians, and also participating in the burgeoning Latin music scene.

His interest in exploring new repertoire, cultures, and programming ideas has led to the creation of a large body of arrangements, transcriptions, and compositions for the solo guitar and guitar chamber music. Bledsoe has also worked extensively with the Guthrie Theater of Minneapolis, the Bach Aria Soloists, Owen/Cox Dance Group, and the Kansas City Ballet. He is founder and director of the Turkish jazz ensemble Alaturka and the independent record label Tzigane, which is home to ten of Bledsoe’s own recorded projects and many other fine artists. Most recently he has founded Ensemble Ibérica, a group that performs the music of Ibéria (Spain and Portugal) and the colonial Americas while educating the public about Iberian cultural influence.

Through his many diverse projects and ensembles, Bledsoe has had the great fortune of performing in almost every state in the United States. Bledsoe has toured extensively in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Turkey, and Russia. His music is regularly programmed on Radio1 BBC, and All Songs Considered on NPR. His recording Yalnız by Alaturka received 4.5 stars and Best Albums of 2013 designation from DownBeat magazine. Bledsoe is currently on the music faculty at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and has continued his musical studies with Spanish flamenco masters Antonio Andrade and Pedro Cortes and with Portuguese fado masters António Parreira and Sidónio Pereira.


Brandon Draper, drums

Brandon Draper has enjoyed a celebrated career as drummer, percussionist, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and educator.  In addition to freelancing and teaching, he currently performs as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, and with the Turkish-Jazz ensemble - Alaturka, whom he recorded, co-mixed and performed on the 2013 release Yalniz, which received 4.5 stars and was named Best Albums of 2013 by DownBeat magazine).  Draper plays guitar with his father, a renowned Hammond B3 organist, in The Draper Family Band and he runs the acclaimed children’s interactive music program Drum Safari with his wife of 14 years, Teryn.

Currently, Draper is on the music faculty at the University of Kansas where he teaches jazz drums, world percussion, steel band and leads the Music Enterprise Certificate combining music business, management and entrepreneurship. He holds a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance from Bethany College, and a Master of Music with distinction from the University of New Mexico.

Draper’s extensive resume includes performances with both the New Mexico and Santa Fe symphony orchestras and the Kansas City Symphony. In contemporary and jazz settings, Draper has performed and/or recorded with Ottmar Liebert, DJ Logic, Donna Summer, Mose Allison, Steve Coleman, Dick Oatts, Mike Moreno, Bobby Watson, and Kevin Hays. He has toured the U.S. with the live-tronica pioneers Particle and contributed work on a new album yet-to-be-finished (2011-2014). He performed in the critically acclaimed world premiere of the new hip-hop musical Venice in Los Angeles in Fall 2010 and premiered his original work Bass Darabukas with Quixotic and the Kansas City Symphony in Spring 2011.


Michelle Heffner Hayes, dance

Michelle Heffner Hayes earned a Ph.D. in critical dance studies from the University of California, Riverside in 1998. She is a professor and chair in the Department of Dance and interim chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Kansas. An artist/scholar, she teaches improvisation, modern/contemporary dance, dance studies and flamenco. Her book Flamenco: Conflicting Histories of the Dance was published by McFarland & Company in 2009. Other publications by Hayes include discussions of contemporary flamenco on film (Dancing Bodies, Living Histories: New Writings on Dance and Culture, 2000), parallels in postmodern dance improvisation and flamenco (Taken By Surprise: An Improvisational Reader, 2003) and understanding flamenco performance (The Living Dance. An Anthology of Essays on Movement & Culture, 2012). She contributed to and co-edited Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives, with K. Meira Goldberg and Ninotchka Devorah Bennahum, 2015. Most recently, Hayes published “Lo que queda/That which remains: Dancing Bodies, Historical Erasure and Cultural Transmission” in Writing the Body/Staging the Other, ed. Brynn Shiovitz, 2018.

Hayes served as the executive director of cultural affairs at Miami Dade College from 1999-2006, where she curated and managed a multidisciplinary performance and commissioning series devoted to contemporary and culturally specific work that is reflective of Miami’s multi-ethnic community. She was the artistic director of the Colorado Dance Festival from 1997-1999, where she curated a performance and education series that concentrated on the dances of the African diaspora. In over 15 years of experience as a performing arts presenter, she was involved in creating new models for national arts education and audience development, as well as infrastructure development for international cultural exchange.


Steve Leisring, trumpet

Bach-Selmer Artist Steve Leisring came to the University of Kansas in 2003, following a 14-year orchestral career in Europe with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, (Spain) with whom he can be heard on over 30 recordings, many of which won critical acclaim, including the Cannes Classical Award from France and Premios Ondas, Spain’s equivalent to the Grammy Award.  With the orchestra he performed with more than 100 world class artists and conductors throughout major European cities such as London, Lisbon, Hamburg, Madrid, and Barcelona. While in Spain, he performed as soloist for the King and Queen of Spain during a special ceremony celebrating the 500-year-old cathedral in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Since coming to KU, Leisring has performed and taught on five continents, and has welcomed students from 18 U.S. states and six countries to come study trumpet in Lawrence, Kansas. Former students have gone on to positions with the U.S. Navy Band in Washington D.C., Dallas Brass, National Orchestras of Spain and Latvia, U.S. Air Force Bands, Tokyo Symphony, Danish Royal Navy Band, Charleston Symphony, Des Moines Metro Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, Disney All-American College Band, and have performed with the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Opera, Puerto Rico Symphony, Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, KC Jazz Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Chicago Civic Orchestra. Other former students enjoy careers as university professors, teachers, conductors, attorneys, and have gone on to medical school and MBA programs. Leisring has been an invited guest to more than 20 conservatories and universities in Asia, including annual master classes at the Central Conservatory in Beijing over the last decade.

As a soloist, he can be heard playing Copland’s Quiet City (arr. Hunsberger) on the Naxos CD Landscapes with the KU Wind Ensemble and its conductor, Paul Popiel. Fanfare magazine describes his work on this recording as “first rate” while the website Music Web International calls him an “outstanding soloist.”

As a solo performer, Leisring has performed in Europe and Asia, most recently on a seven-concert tour with the Nanchang University Wind Ensemble in China, Fall 2017. He has also been a soloist at the Montreux, Brienne, (Switzerland) and Vienne Jazz festivals (France), in Latvia and Spain, and with the Sichuan and Harbin Symphony orchestras in China. He has been a guest principal trumpet with the Tokyo Symphony (Japan), Kansas City Symphony, Wichita Grand Opera, as well as the Shenzhen, Harbin and Tianjin symphony orchestras in China. In the U.S., he has also performed with the Dallas, Milwaukee, San Diego and Charleston symphony orchestras, with artists such as Bill Conti, Diana Krall, Art Garfunkel, Kenny G, as well as with the Boston Brass. In August 2014, he joined Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis in a special performance at Tanglewood.

He is married to pianist Dr. Paulina Wu Leisring and they enjoy their three adopted Yorkshire Terriers.

School of Music Calendar
Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.