Henry Dorn Named Alumni of the Year

Henry Dorn

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music proudly honors the rich legacy of learning and accomplishments of its graduates who have excelled in their chosen fields or performed exemplary service to the community by bestowing the Alumni of the Year Award. Established to publicly recognize alumni for distinguished personal and career accomplishments, as well as exemplary contributions to society that bring credit to the University of Memphis, this award celebrates the outstanding achievements of our alumni.

This year’s recipient is Henry Dorn (BM’ 10), a nationally recognized music composer and conductor. Dorn’s compositions, often instilled with intimate narratives from the perspective of a musician and African American, have earned him recognition and performances by distinguished ensembles across the country, including the Minnesota Orchestra, the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet, Aizuri Quartet, Argento Ensemble and the Dallas Winds.

In his acceptance speech Dorn credits School of Music faculty for their influence on his career. “I express appreciation for all the faculty that have had some kind of impact on the work that I have done,” said Dorn. “I am so grateful for all of those relationships and every single person who in some kind of way touched me along this journey and had some kind of impact.”

Dorn serves on the faculty of St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, as assistant professor of conducting and composition, taking the helm of the award-winning St. Olaf Band as conductor. Before this appointment, Dorn served as an assistant director of the Memphis Area Youth Wind Ensemble and the Nu Chamber Collective director. He has also collaborated with renowned musicians of the United States Army Field Band and the United States Air Force Band and has guest conducted the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.”

“Henry Dorn’s innovative compositions and dedication to sharing diverse musical narratives have not only captivated audiences nationwide but also elevated the significance of our community’s artistic legacy,” said Dr. Kevin Sanders, director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. “We are immensely proud to recognize Henry as this year’s Alumni of the Year for his unparalleled contributions to music and society, and for the way he continues to bring honor to the University of Memphis!”

Dorn’s remarkable contributions to music have earned him several accolades, including an Inaugural Future of Music Faculty Fellowship from the Cleveland Institute of Music and an ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award. His work for orchestra, “Transitions,” inspired by his mother’s battle with lung cancer, premiered to critical acclaim by the Minnesota Orchestra in May 2022 and was performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in their 2023-24 seasons. His newest work for orchestra, “…I forgot to say good morning,” premiered in June 2023 in New York by the American Composers Orchestra.

Originally from Little Rock, AR, Dorn’s passion for composing started early, surrounded by blues and the sounds of his father’s vinyl records collection. He pursued his education with determination, earning degrees from the University of Memphis, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, and Michigan State University.

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music takes pride in celebrating the achievements of Henry Dorn and other outstanding alumni, whose exemplary contributions to music and society continue to bring honor to the University of Memphis.

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