Paul Popiel

Paul Popiel
  • Director of Bands
  • Interim Dean

Contact Info

124 Murphy Hall
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3103


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, current interim Dean and professor of music at the University of Kansas, has been the Director of Bands at the University of Kansas since 2010, 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. Popiel also leads the historic Lawrence City Band through eight concerts annually, and the Crossroads Wind Symphony, comprised of area music educators, through six concerts annually.  His previous appointments include the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Oklahoma State University. He also enjoyed several wonderful years teaching in the public schools of Texas and Michigan.

Popiel recently returned from a four-week professional conducting residency with the esteemed Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra in Japan. The concert series was recorded for a special live-in-concert six-CD collection, making it a truly historic event in the world of wind music. The unprecedented scale of the endeavor, encompassing all nine symphonies composed by KU alumnus and Emeritus faculty member James Barnes, totals more than five hours of music.  The project is slated for release world-wide in December of 2023.

Popiel has lectured and performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. He has several highly acclaimed performance credits for commercial CDs on the Klavier, Naxos, Ecstatic, Summit, Cantaloupe, and Mark Custom labels. His most recent KU release, "Dreams Unseen" (2023), features recordings by the KU Wind Ensemble of works by Peter Meechan, Omar Thomas, Tom Davoren, Katahj Copley, 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, 2015, 2021, 2023), the national convention of the College Band Directors National Association in 2017, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2018, the Milan, Italy Festival of Bands in 2022, and the American Bandmasters Association national convention in 2023.  Popiel's 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.” In 2023, the KU Wind Ensemble was awarded The American Prize for outstanding performance. 

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. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Wind Music Research Quarterly, the newsletter of The Society for the Research and Promotion of Wind Music. His recent lectures on music and conducting include Austria, Germany, Italy, Canada, Portugal, Japan, China, and Singapore.

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.