With an increasing number of performances in both the United States and Europe, Kevin Poelking (b. 1988, Downers Grove, IL) is an emerging American composer. After completing his Undergraduate Degree in Music Education and a Performer’s Certificate in Percussion at the University of South Carolina, Poelking began focusing more seriously on composing. It was during this time he began receiving world premieres from groups like the Passione String Quartet in Bucharest, Romania, the Academy of Voices in St. Paul, Minnesota, the University of Southern Mississippi Percussion Ensemble, the Emory Percussion Ensemble, and various community and student ensembles in France, Spain, and Northern Italy. In 2017, Poelking conducted the premiere of Terra Nocte with the Montgomery Philharmonic.
After a number of years composing, performing, conducting, and teaching in the Washington, D.C. area, Poelking relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado to pursue a Master of Music in Wind Conducting with Rebecca Phillips and studies in composition with award-winning composer James. M. David.
While programming for his graduate recital, Poelking began The Chamber Winds Project, which was cited as an important resource for programming by the College Band Directors National Association in 2020. During his studies at Colorado State University, he was awarded the Highest Achievement in Visual and Performing Arts at the 2018 Graduate Showcase for his piece Lucy for Brass Choir and Piano and he was named 2019 Graduate Student of the Year by the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
In the final concert of his master’s degree, the Colorado State University Wind Symphony premiered By the Hands That Reach Us, a piece that has received the attention of Pulitzer Prize-nominated composer Carter Pann, who was in attendance as Poelking conducted Pann’s Four Factories later in the concert. Pann would later invite Poelking to Boulder, Colorado to begin private studies in composition.
Conducting The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own"
Recently, Poelking was awarded 3rd Place for the 2022 American Prize in Orchestral Composing for his piece Gradients. He was also named a National Semi-Finalist in the Band/ Wind Ensemble for Embers in the Black and Rise. His piece Fanfare for a New Day was named a winner of the Dallas Winds Fanfare Competition in 2019 and he was the winner of the Minot Symphony Orchestra's Young Composer Competition in 2020. Poelking's recent commissions include Cassini (commissioned by Dr. Stanley Curtis-former U.S. Navy Band-for his new trumpet album), There and Back (written for Dr. Laura Bennett Cameron-principal bassoon of the Dallas Winds- for the 2020 International Double Reed Society Conference), in addition to projects with accomplished musicians and ensembles, academic institutions, and consistent work with the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestras, where he serves as Composer in Residence.
In the summer of 2019, Poelking was selected from an international pool of applicants to rehearse and conduct The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in concert where he was awarded the band's medal "For Excellence" by leader and commander Col. Andrew Esch. In 2016, Poelking was appointed the Conducting Fellow with the Montgomery Philharmonic for their 2016-17 season after a six week audition and ensemble vote. He has conducted the CSU Wind Symphony, Opera Orchestra (in a performance of Vaughan Williams Riders to the Sea), Symphony Orchestra, and Symphonic Band, in addition to podium time with the Montgomery College Orchestra and the Capital Wind Symphony.
Poelking has studied conducting with Dr. Rebecca Phillips, Wes Kenney, and Sandra Ragusa. In addition, he has received instruction from H. Robert Reynolds, Michael Haithcock, Craig Kirchoff, Gary Hill, Kevin Sedatole, and Emily Threinen. As a percussionist, Poelking has performed with the Capital Wind Symphony, the Avanti Orchestra, and the Montgomery Philharmonic, at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Schlesinger Hall, and the Strathmore Music Center. He also performed with the South Carolina All- Collegiate Ensemble, and the University of South Carolina and Colorado State University Percussion Ensembles under his percussion teachers Dr. Scott Herring and Dr. Eric Hollenbeck.
Before pursuing his master’s degree, Poelking worked as an Instrumental Music Teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland, where his programs grew significantly during his tenure. In his position as a beginning band and orchestra teacher, Poelking taught in a number of Title I schools including Gaithersburg, Maryland which was named the most diverse city in the United States by NBC News in 2016. He was invited to present at the 2019 Colorado Music Educator Association Annual Conference, delivering a presentation entitled: "Work Life Balance: Helping Your Students by Helping Yourself."
Kevin Poelking is a member of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), the National Band Association (NBA), the American Composers Forum (ACF), and the Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA). Through composing, conducting, and collaboration, he encourages the growth of music and the powerful community that it creates. He currently works with music students and young educators on faculty at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins with his wife, Caitlin, a respected physician assistant professionally recognized for her work in pediatrics and family health.