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Bruce Polay


Bruce Polay

Professor of Music; Conductor & Artistic Director, Knox-Galesburg Symphony

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Professor of Music; Conductor and Music Director, Knox-Galesburg Symphony

Bruce Polay

General Interests

"I feel privileged to work both as a teacher and as a performer. My teaching certainly informs my work as a conductor, composer and pianist, just as my concert and creative experiences enhance and shape my classroom perspective."

Watch an interview with Professor Polay.

Years at Knox: 1983 to present


D.M.A., Instrumental Music, 1989, Arizona State University.
M.A., Composition, 1977, California State University.
B.M., Composition, 1971, University of Southern California.

Teaching Interests

Music theory and history, contemporary tonal harmony, composition, songwriting, orchestration, experimental and avant garde music, music of the United States.

Selected Professional Accomplishments


Knox Faculty Research / Creative Work Grant: Masterclasses in composition and conducting at the Woerthese Classical Music Festival, Klagenfurt, Austria, 2014.
Illinois Conductor of the Year, Professional Orchestras, 2010, 2004, 1997; only conductor to receive the award three times.
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Standards Awards, 1993-present.
Invitation to present a conducting masterclass at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow, Russia.
Illinois Cultural Leadership Award, 2008.
Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, 2008.
Who's Who in America, 59th Edition, 2005.
Knox College Exceptional Achievement Award, 2005-2006 and 1998-1999.
International Who's Who in Classical Music, 2004 and 2003.
Dictionary of International Biography, 31st Edition, 2004.
Who's Who Among Americas Teachers, 2003-2004.
Global Partners Project Award for travel to guest conduct in Russia, 2002 and 2000.
International Trombone Association Award (for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony), 2001.
Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century, 1st Edition, 2000.
International Who's Who in Music and Musicians, 18th Edition.
Who's Who in American Music.
Illinois Orchestra of the Year, 1998-1999.
Four Ragdale Foundation Composition Residencies.


"Suite of Preludes" (for organ). Zimbel Press, NY, 2014.

"Flight of Fancy" for Clarinet in B-flat and Piano: Commissioned by the Galesburg Symphony Society, 2013.

"Psalm Wars" for duo pianos, 2014.

Siwash Rag, 2013.

Zombie Take-Out, 2013.

"Sparkle" for Orchestra: Commissioned by Blick Art Materials, 2007/revised 2012.

"Fast: at least fast enough" for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, 2012.

Sonata Nr. 1 for Violin by Joaquin Turina, orchestrated by Bruce Polay: commissioned by the Galesburg Symphony Society, 2011.

Obertura Tres Amigos (2011) for Trumpet in C, Violin, and Piano: commissioned by Triompeta (Mexico), 2011.

Nothing gold can stay for Soprano and Piano, poem by Robert Frost, 2010.

The Lockless Door for Soprano and Piano, poem by Robert Frost, 2010.

Composer-in-Residence, Lynn University Conservatory of Music, Boca Raton, Florida, 2008.

String Quartet No. 1, 2008: Commissioned by Lynn University and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University-published, Editions Rassel, New York, 2008.

"Ebb and Flow" for piano solo, 2007: commissioned by Judy Lavalley and the First Christian Church of San Mateo, California.

"Sparkle" for Orchestra, 2007: commissioned by Blick Art Materials.

"Pictures for an Exhibition: Music of Bruce Polay," compact disc published by Zimbel Press, New York, 2006.

"5 Novelettes for String Quartet," Op. 15 by Alexander Glazunov arranged for String Orchestra and Harp. 2006: commissioned by The Galesburg Symphony Society.

"Suite on Popular Catalonian Folksongs for String Orchestra," 2004, published by ER (Editions Rassel), New York, 2005.

"Three Violin Duets on Catalonian Folk Songs for String Orchestra," commissioned, 2004.

"Illumination for Orchestra," commissioned by The Galesburg Symphony Society, 2003.

"Suite of Preludes for Organ." Zimbel Press, 2002.

"Come Follow Me." Variations for Organ, released on CD, 2002.

"Solemnity for Brass Ensemble," 2002, published, Kargarice Brass Publications, Denton, Texas, 2008.

"Golden Oldie for Orchestra", 2001, commissioned by The Galesburg Symphony Society, 2001, commissioned by The Galesburg Symphony Society for the 50th Anniversary of The Knox-Galesburg Symphony.

"Elegy for Solo Violin and Small Orchestra" (2001), commissioned and premiered in England by the Genesius Theater Foundation, 2001, commissioned by Rimma Sushanskayai, published, Editions Rassel, New York, 2004.

"Semi-Suite for Violin, Cello, and Piano," commissioned by the Quad Cities Chamber Music Society, 2000, published, Editions Rassel, New York, 2006.


"Suite of Preludes" for Organ, published by Zimble Press, NY, 2014.

Come, Through Fount of Every Blessing (2003) for Violin and Piano, publication by Zimbel Press, NY, expected fall, 2009.

String Quartet No.1 (2008), published by Editions Rassel, New York, 2008.

Solemnity with Finale for Brass Ensemble, published by Kargarice Brass Publications, Denton, Texas, 2008.

Semi-Suite for Violin, Cello, and Piano. Published by Editions Rassel, New York.

"Pictures for an Exhibition: Music of Bruce Polay." A compact disc published and distributed by Zimbel Press, New York, 2006.

"Suite on Popular Catalonian Folksongs for String Orchestra." ER (Editions Rassel), New York, 2005.

CD, "Chamber Music by Bruce Polay." Zimbel Press, New York, 2005.

"Solemnity for Brass Ensemble," 2002.

"Suite of Preludes for Organ," 2002.

"Amazing Grace" for Violin and Piano, 2001, published by Zimbel Music, New York, 2002.

"Elegy for Solo Violin and Small Orchestra," 2001, published by Editions Rassel, New York, 2004.

"Prelude for Kingsfold for Organ," 2001, published by Zimbel Press, New York, 2002.

"Consolation for Organ," 1998, published by Zimbel Press, New York, 1999.

"Encomium for Narrator, Three-Part Children's Chorus, and Orchestra," 1986, published by MMB, St. Louis, 1987.


Illinois Arts Council, Music Panel, 2009.

Guest Conducting

  • Belarus
    Belarussian State Philharmonic, Minsk
  • Italy
    Orvieto Summer Festival Orchestra
  • Mexico
    Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad de Guanajuato
    Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México
  • Russia
    Rostov State Philharmonic Orchestra
    Kislovodsk Symphony Orchestra
    Kuzbass Symphony, Orchestra, Kemerovo
    Bolshoi Theater Chamber Orchestra, Moscow
    Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Kislovodsk
    Western Siberian Philharmonic
  • Romania
    State Orchestra of Brasov
    Targu Mures Philharmonic
    Arad State Philharmonic
  • Spain
    Chamber Orchestra of the Emporda
    Knox-Galesburg Symphony concert in Girona, Lleida, Reus, and in the Palau de la Música, Barcelona.
  • U.K.
    Orchestra of the Swan, Stratford-Upon-Avon
  • United States
    Lynn Philharmonia, Boca Raton, Florida
    Long Beach, California, Symphony
    Symphony of Oak Park/River Forest, Illinois
    Roosevelt Magnet School for The Visual and Performing Arts,
    Peoria, Illinois.

Campus & Community Involvement

Founder of Knox-Galesburg Symphony programs that annually serve the community: Music Mornings, Music Memories, In-School Tours, Annual Young Pianists Competition, Concert Previews for Young Adults at Carl Sandburg College and Galesburg High School.
Recitalist, Knox-Galesburg Symphony Trio various locations in throughout the country and internationally.
Judge, Concerto/Aria Competitions at numerous locations around the country, including NTNA Competitions around the country.
Judge, Midwest Young Artists Competition annually.
Judge, Florestano Rossomundi International Piano Competition, Foggio, Italy.
Instructor, conducting masterclass, Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Russian Federation.
Member, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition Board of Advisors, serving as judge for national and international composition and commissioning programs.
Member, Board of Directors and Mentoring Committee, Illinois Council of Orchestras.
Member, Illinois Arts Council, Music Program Panel for Symphonies, Ensembles and Opera.
Judge, Caltanissetta Chamber Music Competition, Sicily, Italy.
Head Judge, Ludmila Knezkova-Hussey International Piano Competition, Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada.

What Students Say

"Professor Polay's passion for music has allowed me to play in an orchestra that has both character and zeal. He has a vast knowledge of all aspects of music and shows how each aspect helps create a larger effect. Professor Polay is receptive to students' ideas and to creativity in general. He is very approachable and genuinely concerned about his students' progress." --Bernadette Vitola, Music Major

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Printed on Tuesday, July 17, 2018