Jul 07, 2022

Central Kan. man will lead KSU school of music, theatre and dance

Posted Jul 07, 2022 4:00 PM
Dr. Bryan Pinkall
Dr. Bryan Pinkall

Great Bend Post

Dr. Bryan Pinkall has seen much of the world after graduating from Great Bend High School in 2003. From the Grammys to the Olympics, Pinkall continues to build upon an impressive resume. He was recently named director of Kansas State University's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

"I've had the blessing to be able to do a lot of interesting things in my life," he said. "This really wasn't on my radar until April. I feel a lot of honor given to me by my colleagues here, and the students here. I didn't really realize what that fully meant until the last few weeks. It's been special."

As director, Pinkall will be in charge of a school with approximately 500 majors and 60 full-time faculty members. The department also features one of the nation's largest marching bands, and Pinkall estimates some 4,000 students are involved in programming each year.

At 37 years old, Pinkall will be an anomaly of sorts in his new role, but he's spent much of his career in the same position.

"I've often felt that I was among the youngest in a lot of steps along the way," he said. "Sometimes that provides some difficulties. I've prided myself on my work ethic, and I think once people are able to see me and see how I work, that solves a lot of problems."

Upon graduating from Great Bend High School, Pinkall received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Missouri, Kansas City where he was a Kauffman Scholar. He later earned a Master of Music and Bachelor of Arts from Kansas State University.

Pinkall at the Emmys
Pinkall at the Emmys

In 2014, the Topeka Capital Journal named Pinkall the Distinguished Kansan of the Year in Performing Arts. He was a national quarterfinalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award in 2018, and won the American Prize in Vocal Performance in 2020.

Pinkall earned his Carnegie Hall debut in 2014 as a member of the National Festival Chorus, and he was a featured soloist at the grand opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2011. That event included opera singer Placido Domingo and famed violinist Itzhak Perlman.

As a soloist and chorister with the Kansas City Chorale, Pinkall has been part of nine Grammy nominations and seven Grammy wins. Even seated towards the back, Pinkall was able to see many of the country's top stars in their natural setting.

"All the fun experiences are at the after parties," he said. "That's when you really see everyone in their element just as normal people. We're used to seeing folks on TV and their personality, but when they're behind the scenes they're just normal people. That's kind of fun."

Pinkall has also worked in the television scene as a manager of performance operations at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Opening Ceremonies in Sochi were nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, winning one Emmy.

"You have to work with choreographers and dancers, all sorts of people," Pinkall said of his role. "It was my job to organize a lot of that. The ceremonies were divided into segments, so there were a number of people like myself and we were assigned to different parts of the show."

Pinkall spent between a month and two months on site for each Olympics, but said the viewing experience is better suited for those at home.

"It is stressful," he laughed. "It is very stressful. Since it's live and it's huge, there are always issues that come about. In reality, it's a lot better to watch it on TV than to be there in person because it's really designed to be a television event. You lose a lot of details if you're in the audience in the stadium. It's just a really interesting experience."

Pinkall's achievements go on. He helped provide free or discounted music education to more than 1,000 underprivileged children in the Kansas City area as Founder and Education Director of the Kansas City Vocal Institute. He's performed poetry and musical numbers at many of the nation's top venues, including Lincoln Hall and the Kennedy Center. Despite all that, he's most proud of being a teacher.

"I'm a people person and I love to teach," he said. "My family is entirely filled with educators. That one-to-one, you get to see into other peoples' lives and get a chance to be a part of that."