DR. BRIAN A. COFFILL, D.M.A., (he/him), is a conductor and pedagogue shaping the future of instrumental performance through equity and inclusion in student musical achievement, the performance of works by historically-excluded composers, and the development of twenty-first century performance experiences for musicians and audiences alike. Equally at home making creative and collaborative music with a wide variety of instrumental ensembles, his ingenuity has gained national recognition while serving as the Founding Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Assistant Professor of Music at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
Brian founded Randolph-Macon's instrumental ensembles in 2018, with much of the initial funding provided in part by a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In the short time since the program's inception, he has guided the growth of the college's instrumental music program from its infancy to a nationally-recognized community of creative and inclusive musicians; what began as one small, mixed chamber group is now a suite of highly innovative and collaborative instrumental ensembles that find their home in RMC's beautiful new Center for the Performing Arts. The Randolph-Macon College Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Jazz Improvisation Laboratory, Jacketeers New Orleans Brass Band, and Chamber Ensembles each upend musical norms and utilize student collaboration to creatively explore historic and contemporary music from across the instrumental spectrum.
The Spring 2022 Randolph-Macon Ensemble, selected for performance at the 2022 CBDNA Southern Division Conference
Brian's demonstrated vision in shaping the growth of RMC's instrumental music program, his unique approach to musical problem solving, and his commitment to promoting an inclusive, modern repertoire have led to national recognition as a leader of the musical conversation. He regularly presents on repertoire, "flexible thinking," and the future of instrumental ensembles at regional and national conferences, and was highlighted with the American Prize Foundation's 2020 Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award for Orchestral Programming, a national juried award that "recognizes and rewards the best achievement in the unique field of orchestral programming."
Under Brian's leadership, ensembles at Randolph-Macon College have performed genre-bending repertoire in creative settings across the country. RMC's instrumental ensembles have been invited to share their unique musical vision with conductors and educators at high-profile venues, including the 2022 Virginia Music Educators Association Professional Development Conference and the 2022 College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Conference, on the campus of the University of South Carolina.
In his role at Randolph-Macon as Assistant Professor of Music, Brian serves as the coordinator of music education and leads the conducting studio. He teaches additional courses in music theory, orchestration, recording technology, and the systemic influence of race and gender in music. In addition, he serves as the administrator for instrumental applied lessons as well as the creator and coordinator of the January-Term Chamber Ensemble program. Beyond his duties at the college, he is also a member of the teaching faculty at the GreenSpring International Academy of Music in nearby Richmond, Virginia, where he conducts the GreenSpring Chamber Orchestra. Brian is also the State Chair of the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA) Student Composition Festival and serves on the VMEA Council for Creativity and Innovation. He maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States.
The Fall 2019 Randolph-Macon Ensemble
Prior to arriving at Randolph-Macon, Brian earned a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Maryland, while also serving as Assistant Conductor of the Maryland Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Lab Orchestra. His studies included wind, orchestral, chamber, and opera conducting under Dr. Michael Votta, Jr., Prof. James Ross (Alexandria Symphony, & Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès - Barcelona), Prof. José-Luis Novo (Annapolis Symphony), Prof. Craig Kier (Annapolis Opera), Col. Jason Fettig (President's Own United States Marine Band), and Dr. John Devlin (Wheeling Symphony). His performance of Charles Ives' Decoration Day with the Maryland Wind Ensemble gained national recognition as a finalist for the 2018-2019 Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music. He earned a Master of Music degree in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was an Associate Conductor for the university’s many concert and athletic bands, including the famed Illinois Wind Symphony and Marching Illini; he also served as an Assistant Conductor with the Lab Orchestra. His mentors at Illinois included Dr. Linda Moorhouse, Prof. Donald Schleicher, Prof. Barry Houser, and Dr. J. Ashley Jarrell. He also earned the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (Music) and Bachelor of Science (Education) from the University of Connecticut, playing Horn in the UConn Symphony Orchestra, new music-focused Wind Ensemble, and athletic bands, also serving for two years as Head Drum Major of the Pride of Connecticut, the University of Connecticut Marching Band. Between undergraduate and graduate studies, he held positions conducting high school bands and orchestras in the public schools of Arlington County, Virginia (Yorktown High School) and Carroll County, Maryland (Century High School).
Brian's diverse academic interests include promoting the inclusive expansion of the instrumental repertoire, interpreting the works of iconoclastic composer Charles Ives, and investigating the many connections between the quintessential American institutions of Baseball and the Wind Band. He has been invited to present his scholarly research on a variety of subjects across the United States, most notably at the 31st Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as multiple College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) national and regional conferences; his research has been published by the CBDNA Journal.
A major portion of his baseball research consists of resurrecting, transcribing, and re-scoring H. R. Hempel's Cubs On Parade March Two-Step, a long-forgotten march that celebrated the 1907 World-Champion Chicago Cubs. He conducted his re-scored version of Cubs on Parade in concert with the University of Illinois Wind Orchestra in 2015, and is happy to take partial credit for Cubs' ensuing playoff success. Additional arrangements are published by Classics Revisited.
The Fall 2019 Randolph-Macon Jazz Improvisation Laboratory
Brian is a member of various professional and service organizations in music, music education, and academic research including the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA), the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (VBODA), the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). He is an inducted member of Kappa Kappa Psi and an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma.
A fervent Red Sox fan despite being raised on the New York side of Connecticut's "Munson-Nixon Line," Brian has lived across the river from Nationals Park, down the street from Camden Yards, and deep in disputed Cubs-Cardinals territory. He currently resides near the AA Flying Squirrels ballpark in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and their two young, highly-regarded prospects.