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Dr. Kendra Wheeler is a collaborator, chamber musician, educator, and advocate for emerging, diverse and historically excluded music and musicians.
As a performer, she actively promotes, advocates and performs new repertoire that embraces a multitude of cultures and perspectives. This can be seen in her modern and diverse programming and commissioning. She has appeared at major venues and festivals in Italy, Croatia, Greece, England and across the United States including Chicago Symphony Center (Chicago, IL), Ordway Center for Performing Arts (St. Paul, MN), Capitol Theatre (Yakima, WA), Muzička akademija u Zagrebu (Croatia), New Music Gathering (Portland), Gruss Music Center (Hartford, CT, SPLICE Festival (Detroit, MI), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM (Mexico City, Mexico), among others. Dr. Wheeler’s work has been recognized by internationally and nationally renowned organizations and competitions such as Concert Artist Guild (CAG), Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition (VEA), DOWNBEAT Magazine and PanAmerican International Saxophone Competition.
As an educator, she supports and advocates for sustainably inclusive pedagogical practices that affirm the presence of all diverse peoples. Specifically, she uses the theories and concepts of intersectionality, identity, and privilege to explore how artistry and musicianship works in tandem with the many intersections of our identity. Her work has been recognized and presented at major conferences and universities across North America and Europe including the University of Hartford, Hart School of Music (Hartford, CT), the International Alliance for Women in Music (Eugene, Oregon), International Conference on Society and the Arts (Zaragoza, Spain), Jagiellonian University (Kraków, Poland), among others. For more information regarding Dr. Wheeler’s DEIBA and scholarship work, click here.
As an advocate for innovation through performance, Dr. Wheeler embraces exploring new mediums for the saxophone through interdisciplinary collaborations. Since 2018 she has been a member of Alecto Duo, along with Kakia Gkoudina (composer, electronics, visuals). While often political in nature, Alecto Duo’s work is audiovisual, consisting of elements of contemporary music and cinematic tradition.
Ultimately, Wheeler’s music and identity focus and research, combined with her keen awareness and understanding of the various intersections of identity make her a unique musical and pedagogical voice within the field. In regard to her teaching, this allows her students to understand how to best advocate for themselves, develop a strong sense of agency, and become their own best teachers; ultimately aiding in their success in every area of their lives: personal, professional, and musical. In regard to performance, this translates to Wheeler’s ability to create an open and inviting musical space allowing for a deep connection between her and her audience. Her playing has been described as intentional, sensitive, warm, transformative, and humanistic, all of which is unique to her.
Dr. Wheeler holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance from Michigan State University where she was a student of Joseph Lulloff. She also holds a Master of Music in saxophone performance and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. While studying at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, her teachers were Preston Duncan and Eugene Rousseau. Dr. Wheeler is immensely thankful for all her mentors that have guided her passion for music and artistry.
Dr. Kendra Wheeler serves as Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Central Washington University where she teaches applied classical saxophone, music theory, aural skills, as well as courses within the music education curriculum. Prior to her appointment at CWU, she served on the music faculty of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam (NY). Dr. Wheeler is an Eastman, Silverstein Works and Légère Performing Artist.
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