Derek M. Jenkins - Composer, Musicologist

Photo courtesy of Emily Trapp Photography

Derek M. Jenkins (b. 1986, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) is an American composer and musicologist, whose music has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada by ensembles and performers including the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra; the Fountain City Brass Band; the Seattle Wind Symphony; the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band; university bands and wind ensembles in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas; the Youth Symphony of Kansas City Symphony Orchestra; Mid America Freedom Band; Tri-State Wind Symphony; the Carinthia, Joseph Wytko, and Saxophilia Saxophone Quartets; Washington Square Winds; Musica Nova; and saxophonists Randall Hall, Gilbert Sabitzer, Michael Shults, and Joseph Wytko.

Jenkins's piece, We Seven, won the 2016 American Prize in Composition and in 2012, his piece, Eosphorus: The Morning Star, was selected as a winner of the National Band Association's Young Composer Mentor Project. Jenkins has received additional recognition from MMTA/MTNA, Red Note New Music Festival, MACRO, the UMKC Conservatory, the UMKC School of Graduate Studies, ASCAP, the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award Foundation, and at conferences and festivals across the U.S. and abroad. Recent commissions have come from the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, the Missouri Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association, the Mid America Freedom Band, the University of Tennessee at Martin Wind Ensemble, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wind Ensemble, the Bethel College Wind Ensemble, the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Saxophone Ensemble, and various individuals throughout the country.

In addition to his work as a composer, Jenkins is actively researching the history and literature of the wind band and the history of orchestration. Currently, he is investigating the 1921 Iowa Band Law (H.F. 479) and its continued use in supporting municipal bands in Iowa today.

This fall, Jenkins will begin working as Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Arkansas State University, and he holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (DMA Composition, MM Musicology, 2017; BM Composition, BM Theory, 2010) and Rice University (MM Composition, 2013). Additionally, he has received further instruction at the Kärntner Landeskonservatorium and the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt. Beyond music, he was a Preparing Future Faculty Fellow at UMKC where he earned a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching and Career Preparation, and he briefly studied mathematics at Loras College.

​His primary composition teachers have included James Mobberley, Karim Al-Zand, Chen Yi, Pierre Jalbert, Richard Lavenda, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long, and his primary musicology advisors include S. Andrew Granade and William Everett. He has also studied with Amy Dunker, Peter Graham, and Alfred Stingl.

Jenkins is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society; the National Band Association; the College Music Society; the Society for American Music; the Society of Composers, Inc.; and ASCAP. His music is available through Veritas Musica Publishing and under his own imprint, Mühltal Musikpresse.​

In his spare time, Jenkins is an amateur scuba diver and daydreams of becoming an astronaut.

Follow Derek online by clicking any of the links below:






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Upcoming Performances:

13-14 October 2017
We Seven
TBD Band at Arizona State University
SCI Region VII Conference
Time and Location TBD
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

4 February 2018
Nach Raum und Zeit (mvts. 1-3)
Ensemble for These Times
Time and Location TBD

26 May 2018
We Seven
Ensemble TBD
Lesbian and Gay Band Association Conference
Time TBD, Helzberg Hall
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Kansas City, MO


Blue Marble: A Symphony for Wind Ensemble

"We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth."
- Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 & 13 Astronaut

Movement I: Copernicus, Galileo, and the Medicea Sidera
For millennia, humankind believed that the Earth was stationary and the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars orbited our little terrestrial home. Sixteenth-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus speculated that Earth was just another planet in orbit around the Sun. About a century later, astronomer Galileo Galilei observed four “stars” that he called the Medicea Sidera orbiting Jupiter. These “stars” were in fact moons, and this discovery offered proof to Copernicus’s ideas. The melodic material introduced in this movement is based on the eleventh-century chant melody Naturalis concordia vocum cum planetis and reappears throughout the rest of the piece.

Movement II: A barely controlled explosion
In October of 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite into orbit around the Earth, while the United States was left frantically trying to have a successful liftoff. Often in the late 1950s, many American rockets would collapse in upon themselves, go off course and need to be manually destroyed, or fail to even ignite. These bugs were eventually fixed, and the United States was able to launch satellites and manned spacecraft successfully over the next several decades. However, these early mishaps did leave their impression. As former NASA Deputy Administrator Aaron Cohen once remarked, “Let’s face it, space is a risky business. I always considered every launch a barely controlled explosion.”

Movement III: Magnificent desolation
On 20 July 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon; marking the first time that humankind set foot on another celestial body. Aldrin, who exited the Eagle after Armstrong famously took his one small step, remarked that their view was one of “magnificent desolation.” This fitting description would later be used as the title of his 2009 autobiography. In this book, Aldrin describes his battle with depression, which he attributes primarily to two factors: coping with life after the moon landing and forever being “the second man to step on the Moon.” This movement depicts the desolate lunar surface through the lens of Aldrin’s fixation on this singular event. There are twenty-one chime strikes in this movement (including the preceding interpolation); one for each of the astronauts and cosmonauts that perished on Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1, and Soyuz 11.

Movement IV: At the frontier of the known universe The Space Shuttle Discovery embarked on its five-day STS-31 mission on 24 April 1990. Safely nestled its cargo bay was the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope has provided spectacular images of the heavens, including star clusters, distant nebulae, and our planetary neighbors. The Hubble Telescope has provided answers to many questions regarding the origins of our universe, while simultaneously posing many new questions and hypotheses. One thing is certain, humanity is destined to continue exploring the cosmos, and through this exploration we will, as astronomer Edwin Hubble states, “find them [galaxies] smaller and fainter, in constantly increasing numbers, and we know that we are reaching into space, farther and farther, until, with the faintest nebulae that can be detected with the greatest telescopes, we arrive at the frontier of the known universe.”

A special thank you to my friend and colleague Samuel Green for reading and recording Walt Whitman's poem When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer used in the electronics throughout Interpolation III. This work is dedicated to the memories of the brave men and women who perished on the Space Shuttle Challenger thirty years ago and was written for John Oelrich and the University of Tennessee at Martin Wind Ensemble.

We Seven

"How many things have been denied one day,
only to become realities the next!"

- Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon

We Seven, the title of this work, comes from a book by the same name written by the United States's first astronauts. In 1959, the United States entered the space race by starting a program whose main aims included sending a solo astronaut into space and recovering him safely. Project Mercury, as this program was so called, recruited the first seven American astronauts and successfully sent six of them into space. These men were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton, and collectively they became known as the "Mercury Seven." Through their efforts and those of countless others, the United States Space Program accomplished much with these six flights, including successfully sending an astronaut into space, putting a man in orbit, and keeping him up there for more than 24 hours. In 1962, shortly after Glenn and Carpenter's orbital flights, the "Mercury Seven" co-wrote the book We Seven, and throughout it the astronauts discuss the events leading from their selection into the program up through Carpenter's flight in May of 1962. The primary material for the work comes from two sources: the use of musical cryptograms to encode the astronauts' names and initials into pitches and the aria 'Un bel dì vedremo' from Giacomo Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly. The inclusion of the latter comes directly from one of Glenn's chapters in the book. Together with a couple of the other astronauts, he would often listen to the opera to unwind from a long day of training. I would like to think that as he was orbiting the Earth that this opera, particularly this aria, would be running through his mind.

This work commemorates the Project Mercury on the 50th anniversary of its conclusion and was written for Joseph Parisi and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wind Ensemble.

Commissioned by Joseph Parisi and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wind Ensemble.

The version for brass band has been prepared by the composer for the Fountain City Brass Band.

Winner, 2016 Missouri State University Composition Festival
Finalist, 2015 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards
Honorable Mention, 2016 RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Competition

Eosphorus: The Morning Star

"When o'er the eastern lawn,
In saffron robes, the daughter of the dawn
Advanced her rosy steps, before the bay
Due ritual honours to the gods I pay."

- Homer's Odyssey

Eosphorus (pronounced ee’ – ahs – fer – uhs) was an ancient Greek deity, personifying the morning star and the daughter of the dawn. Her sighting in the eastern sky would herald the coming of Helios, who brought light to the day with his golden chariot of the sun. Over the horizon in the early morning hours, Eosphorus humbly shines, and as the dawn slowly subsides to the majestic sunrise, she struggles to continue illuminating the eastern sky. After one final attempt to retain her place in the heavens, Eosphorus loses her primacy in a blaze of glory, as the sun’s light overwhelms the little star. Slowly she retreats until at the end of the next night she would eventually and inevitably herald the return of Helios. Like Eosphorus, this work flows from chaos into order with intersecting and fluid lines that usher in the fanfare of the sun, until Eosphorus, conceding defeat, fades back into the abyss.

Winner, 2012 National Band Association's Young Composer Mentor Project
Honorable Mention, 2011 Truman State University / MACRO Composition Competition

Boreas: The North Wind
​"And long he'd been without his heart's desire
While he preferred to woo with words not force.
But when fair speeches failed him, anger stormed,
The north wind's too familiar mood at home."

​- Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI

Boreas was an ancient Greek deity, personifying the north wind. He was a winged god of ruthless disposition, which was rivaled only by the harsh wintry winds at his command. Boreas fell in love with Orithyia, the King’s daughter. Contrary to his genuine nature, he attempted to woo her with sweet words of devotion. His efforts were in vain, and Orithyia failed to yield to his advances. With this rejection, Boreas’s temper flared and he, once again, was overcome by his icy and merciless nature. Like Boreas, this work begins with slow, lyrical lines that quickly fade into an unrelenting fury of anger. Moments reminiscent of Boreas’s words of affection appear, but they are quickly washed away as the piece escalates.

Commissioned by Timothy Shade and the Bethel College Wind Ensemble.

Winner, 2013 Gerald Kemner Prize for Wind Ensemble