Dr. Bruce Polay has been a professor of music at Knox College and artistic director of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony since 1983. Polay is a three-time recipient of the Illinois Council of Orchestras Illinois Conductor of the Year Award, most recently the coveted Conductor of the Year , Professional Orchestra Award in April 2010. He has also been recognized with the ICO’s prestigious Cultural Leadership and Programming of the Year Awards, and under his baton, the ICO recognized the Symphony as Illinois Orchestra of the Year for an unprecedented third time.


In 2008, Bruce served as composer-in-residence at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida, receiving a commission from the Lynn Conservatory and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University for his First String Quartet. Additionally, he worked with Lynn Conservatory composers, coached performances of his chamber music, and gave classroom and public lectures on contemporary music. Bruce's recent appearances as guest conductor have included performances in Belarus, England, Italy, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and in the US. He has conducted such diverse orchestras as the State Orchestra of Mexico; the Belarussian State Philharmonic; the Chamber Orchestra of the Emporda (Spain); the Arad Philharmonic (Romania); Kharkiv Philharmonic (Ukraine); and Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Theater Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted in many major international cities including Barcelona, Girona, Minsk, Mexico City, Moscow, and Rome. He has performed as a soloist and recitalist in Europe and in the US, has served as judge for international piano competitions in Canada and Italy, continues to judge the Midwest Young Artists Competition, has performed in New York City's famed Carnegie Hall and has been invited to give a conducting masterclass at the prestigious Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. 


Bruce has served on the Board of Advisors of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, judging in both the International Composition Competition and the National Commissioning Program. He continues on the Advisory Board of the Foundation for New Music and the Music Program Panel (for symphonies, ensembles, and opera) of the Illinois Arts Council.


“Encomium for Narrator, Three-Part Children’s Chorus and Orchestra” (1986) commissioned by Knox College

Consolation for Organ (1998)

"Semi-Suite for Violin, Cello, and Piano" (2000) commissioned by the Quad Cities Chamber Music Society

Elegy for Solo Violin and Small Orchestra (2001) commissioned by Rimma Sushanskayai

Golden Oldie (2001)

Prelude for Kingsfold for Organ (2001)

Solemnity for Brass Ensemble (2001) premiered by CSO brass

Amazing Grace for Violin and Piano (2002)

"Illumination for Orchestra" (2003) commissioned by The Galesburg Symphony Society

Suite on Popular Catalonian Folksongs for String Orchestra (2004) commissioned by Orquestra de Cambra de l’Emporda (Spain)

"Three Violin Duets on Catalonian Folk Songs for String Orchestra" (2004)

Sparkle for Orchestra (2007) commissioned by Blick Art Materials

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

String Quartet No. 1 (2008) commissioned by Lynn University and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition

The Lockless Door for Soprano and Piano (2010)

Nothing gold can stay for Soprano and Piano (2010)

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

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

"Flight of Fancy" for Clarinet in B-flat and Piano (2013) commissioned by the Galesburg Symphony Society

Siwash Rag (2013)

Zombie Take-Out (2013)

"Psalm Wars" for duo pianos (2014)

"Suite of Preludes" for organ (2014)

Homeward Bound
Side by Side
East Meets West
On Our Way
Meeting in the Middle
First Chairs Forward
Keys in the Wind
Old Friends