As the longtime conductor of the Dallas Winds and as a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin, Jerry Junkin is one of the most prominent American wind ensemble conductors. More unusually for the American wind orchestra genre, his success has extended to international venues and to major conducting positions abroad.
Junkin was born in Victoria, in south Texas, in 1956. His father was the band director at Victoria High School, and when the younger Junkin attended college at the University of Texas in Austin, he became heavily involved with the school's bands and was named Assistant Director of Bands there immediately after graduating in 1978. He went on to positions at the University of South Florida and the University of Michigan, maintaining ties with the latter state through summer conducting and teaching work at the Interlochen Arts Academy there in later years. In 1988 he joined the faculty of the University of Texas as a professor, conductor of school's wind ensemble, and was later named head of the music school's conducting division. He teaches conducting and wind band literature. He has led the UT Wind Ensemble on international tours in 1992 and 2008, and has made two appearances with the group at Carnegie Hall in New York. Junkin has recorded with both the UT Wind Ensemble (beginning in 1995 with Arnold for Band, an album of world premieres of music by Malcolm Arnold) and with the Dallas Winds, of which he became conductor and artistic director in 1993. Many of his recordings with both groups have appeared on the Reference Recordings label; in 2018 he released John Williams at the Movies with the Dallas Winds and trumpeter Christopher Martin. Since 2003, Junkin has been conductor and music director of the Hong Kong Wind Philharmonia, and he serves as principal guest conductor of Japan's Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Wind Ensemble. He has also held several ongoing guest conductorships in East Asia. Often championing contemporary music and performing world premieres and little-known works, including the world premiere of John Corigliano's Symphony No. 3 ("Circus Maximus") at Carnegie Hall, Junkin earned the Grainger Medallion of the International Percy Grainger Society in 2005 for his promotion of Grainger’s works. He has won major prizes in the U.S. wind ensemble and band circles.