Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Denis Colwell

Denis Colwell

Associate Professor

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Denis Colwell served as the Head of the Carnegie Mellon School of Music from 2012 to 2022, was Assistant Head of the School from 1988 to 1995, and has served on its faculty since 1993. Colwell received the Jack G. Buncher Chair in 2017.

Colwell was Music Director of the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble from 1993 to 2011, and his 1996 recording with that group was hailed as "…one of the best band recordings in recent years…" by the American Record Guide (March/April 1996). 

From 1994 to 2009 Colwell served as Music Director of the River City Brass Band and performed over 1,400 concerts with that ensemble throughout the USA. He joined the group as a cornetist in 1982, and was ultimately  promoted to Assistant Principal Solo Cornet. In 1991 he was named Associate Conductor of the River City Brass Band by its founder and first music director Robert Bernat. Colwell assumed all conducting duties in May 1994, and the responsibilities of music director were added six months later. 

Colwell studied trumpet performance both as an undergraduate and graduate student with the legendary Anthony L. Pasquarelli at Carnegie Mellon. Colwell was founder of the Carnegie Mellon Youth Brass Band and the River City Youth Brass Band, and served as conductor of both ensembles.