On the first day of seventh grade beginning band, Nicholas Kenney quit. It all made sense to him at the time; without an instrument to play, how could he be in band? Without overreacting, the band director loaned him an old Holton trumpet. Two years later he switched to horn – because his nemesis was. What ninth grader could let go of a rivalry? He didn’t truly fall in love with horn until eleventh grade, when he performed a transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony with the Charlotte Youth Wind Ensemble, and a year later, he made a last-minute decision to audition for music school. Today, Dr. Kenney’s colleagues describe his horn playing as fearless and versatile, and his work as a teacher has been recognized and celebrated world-wide.
Dr. Kenney has performed in venues around the globe, including the Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia, the historic Waterford Opera House in Waterford, Ireland, New York’s famed Carnegie Hall (twice), and in venues throughout the Italian countryside. Dr. Kenney is an award-winning soloist, having won both North Carolina and Nebraska’s MTNA competitions twice, the 2006 Western Carolina University Concerto Competition, and in 2009, he was named a finalist in the University Division of the International Horn Competition of America. He has performed as soloist with the Duke University Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson (TN) Symphony Orchestra, the Savannah (GA) Philharmonic Orchestra, the Southeast Missouri State University Choir, the Nebraska All-State Choir, and the Southeast Missouri State University Wind Symphony. He has presented recitals at the University of Michoacán San Nicolas de Hidalgo in Morelia, Mexico, the University of Virginia, Alabama State University, the University of North Alabama, Middle Tennessee State University, Oklahoma State University, and Western Carolina University, among others.
In 2022, Dr. Kenney formed Duo Sonus with former student Jordan Redd, now Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of Northern Alabama. That same year, they commissioned and recorded Odyssey for Two Horns and Mixed Media by celebrated composer James Naigus. The recording premiered on January 1st, 2023, and they plan on using it as the title track of their first album. He is currently a section member of the Jackson (TN) Symphony Orchestra and he has performed with the South Dakota Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Lincoln Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Fayetteville Symphony, Hendersonville Symphony, Carolina Pops Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, Long Bay Symphony, Spartanburg Philharmonic, Paducah Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, and the Savannah Philharmonic.
Dr. Kenney is currently Professor of Horn at Southeast Missouri State University. For the academic year 2023-2024 he is serving as the Interim Chair of the Department of Music. Since his appointment in 2014, he has had a crucial role in expanding the horn studio and establishing the SEMO Horn Choir as an official ensemble. In addition to their own recitals, the SEMO Horn Choir regularly performs at SEMO events and regional horn workshops. In February, Dr. Kenney hosts SEMO’s Horn Day, which serves as a major educational and performance opportunity for hornists of all levels in the Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois regions. He also serves as Assistant Director of the SEMO Marching Band and Director of the SEMO Show Band. In 2023, the Show Band received the SEMO Experiential Learning Award for the student leadership program that was developed by Dr. Kenney.
Dr. Kenney has been extremely active and revered as a teacher and clinician. He regularly presents horn masterclasses throughout the United States and the World, and he has been recognized by his students and colleagues with awards for his teaching and mentorship. Most recently he was named the Southeast Missouri State Outstanding Faculty Master Advisor (2023), and also won a National Merit award through the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). He was also a finalist for the 2023 Holland College of Arts and Media Outstanding Teaching Award. Additionally, he regularly gives a seminar presentation called “Solutions for Success: Effective Strategies for Short and Long Term Success”. Sports teams, applied music studios, schools of music and workshops have invited him to speak on the topic of success. His students are busy in the world of music, making a name for themselves in many sectors of the industry.
He has served as Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Adjunct Professor of horn at UNC-Pembroke and Concordia University. Prior to his appointment at SEMO he was the Director of Instrumental Studies at Cresset Christian Academy in Durham, NC.
Dr. Kenney earned the D.M.A. and M.M. degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the B.M. from Western Carolina University. His primary teacher is Dr. Alan F. Mattingly. He lives in Jackson, Missouri with his wife Lindsay, their daughter Amelia, and their Bengal cat Barnaby.