by Leah Jackson
Northwestern State University alumnus Brian Coatney has been selected as the new conductor of the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra Philharmonic for the 2022-23 season. Coatney, a conductor, educator and music education advocate, has nearly 20 years of experience leading successful public school orchestra programs across Texas.
Coatney is a native of Arlington, Texas, who began cello studies at age five and participated in high school orchestra and percussion ensembles throughout high school. Coatney graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern State in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in music education and in 2003 earned a master’s in orchestral conducting at James Madison University, where he studied under conductor and composer Dr. Robert McCashin. He joined the Klein High School fine arts program in 2003 as assistant orchestra director and conducted the Houston Youth Symphony Sinfonietta Orchestra before he was named director of orchestral studies at Plano Senior High School. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Texas American String Teachers Association’s Marjorie Keller Young Teacher of the Year award. Coatney currently serves as director of Orchestras at Wylie Independent School District’s new orchestra program.
“I am forever grateful for the education I received at Northwestern State University,” Coatney said. “The education I received and the friendships I developed have been invaluable in my career. I am especially appreciative of Dr. George Adams, Scott York, And Mr. Richard Rose for the opportunities they gave me and the knowledge they instilled on me. Northwestern State is a special place and I am elated to see the Music Department is still thriving and providing an exceptional education.
Coatney is active as an adjudicator and consultant for programs around the country and is a member of the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, Mu Omicron and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He is a past-president of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), an organization representing 13,000 Texas music teachers that annually host the world’s largest music education conference featuring all-state groups competitively selected from over 70,000 high school musicians.
While leading the Plano Senior High School Orchestra program from 2007 to 2020, Coatney’s groups won high marks in numerous competitions and were selected three times to perform at TMEA conferences as an invited Honor Full Orchestra. They also had the unique honor to be named the Full Orchestra division winner of the American String Teacher Association’s National Orchestra Festival and were selected to perform at the prestigious Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago.
“I am beyond thrilled and honored to be joining the FWYO team and I look forward to contributing to the FWYO’s mission of promoting and inspiring the musical talent of area musicians,” Coatney said. “Most importantly, I am excited to make new connections with faculty, students and families as we travel on this musical journey together.”
Coatney will begin rehearsals with the FWYO Philharmonic on August 21 and will make his debut performance with The Philharmonic on October 16 at Fort Worth ISD’s I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA. Tickets will be available in late September. Information is available at FWYO.org or by calling (817) 923-3121.