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 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 will feature the premiere recordings of works by  Joel Puckett, Aaron Perrine, John Mackey, James Barnes, and Joni Greene. 

Under Popiel's leadership, the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble has performed at Carnegie Hall in 2013, for President Obama in 2015, at the Kansas Music Educators Association (2012 and 2015), and was recently selected for the national biennial convention of the College Band Directors National Association in 2017.  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. 

A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for winds, including pieces by composers 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 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.

Friends of the School of Music

Report Your Post-Graduation Plans

The School of Music tracks post-graduation plans for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Live Stream Links

School of Music Events

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
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
KU Today