Donald J. McKinney
Chair, Conducting • Professor of Conducting • Director of Bands

Donald J. McKinney is director of bands, professor of conducting and chair of the conducting area at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music. He conducts the CU Boulder Wind Symphony, guides the graduate wind-conducting program and oversees the university’s comprehensive band program. The CU Boulder Wind Symphony has collaborated with numerous artists and composers, and performed for the CBDNA Southwestern Division Conference on the CU Boulder campus. The ensemble is active in commissioning and performing music of our time and has worked with composers including Stacy Garrop, Carter Pann, Carlos Simon, Annika Socolofsky and Xi Wang. Prior to his 2013 appointment at CU Boulder, McKinney was director of wind ensembles and associate professor at Louisiana State University. While teaching at LSU, its wind ensemble was invited to perform at the 2013 CBDNA National Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina.

McKinney has held additional faculty positions at Interlochen Arts Academy and Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music. From 2010-2015, he was coordinator of bands for the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp. In this capacity, he conducted the World Youth Wind Symphony and administered the summer band program. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with the Dallas Wind Symphony, Concordia Santa Fe, Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra and numerous honor ensembles. He has also conducted concerts and clinics in Costa Rica and Canada. On numerous occasions, his performances with the Dallas Wind Symphony have been featured on National Public Radio Performance Today. 

As a teacher of conducting, McKinney has presented conducting master classes at Austin Peay State University, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Central Florida, Eastern Washington University, University of Central Missouri, West Chester University and UCLA. His recording credits include projects with the Dallas Winds, University of Michigan Symphony Band, University of Texas Wind Ensemble, University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Keystone Wind Ensemble and the Duquesne University Wind Symphony. He was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for producing the Dallas Winds recording “John Williams at the Movies.”

In February 2017, McKinney was featured on the cover of The Instrumentalist, a prominent journal for instrumental music educators. He has published articles in numerous conducting resources including five volumes of Teaching Music through Performance in Band and, most recently, The Conductors Companion published by Meredith Music. He has also authored a chapter about Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon for the book Women of Influence in Contemporary Music published by Scarecrow Press. After participating in the Second Frederick Fennell Conducting Masterclass, McKinney was named a finalist for the Thelma A. Robinson Award by the Conductors Guild. He has also been nominated for a LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award and is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Beta Mu.

McKinney earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from the University of Michigan. His primary conducting teachers include Michael Haithcock, Jack Stamp, Robert Cameron and additional study with H. Robert Reynolds and Frank Battisti. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his husband, Brad, and their two dogs.

Wind conducting