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Hanlon, Kenneth M.


Ken Hanlon was a musician who worked closely with Si Zentner in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was instrumental in establishing the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hanlon was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1941. He attended 2nd grade through high school in Parkville schools. He took up his first instrument, the snare drum, at the age of ten, and by eighth grade had taken up baritone horn and trombone. Hanlon earned money in high school by assisting on a paper route. He also took private lessons, which he paid for, and played in a dance band. After graduation, he attended the Peabody Conservatory on a scholarship. He finished his last two years there with the principal of the Baltimore Symphony.

Hanlon taught at the Peabody Preparatory for seven years as an undergraduate and graduate. He continued his Master's degree at Peabody Conservatory while working as a public school instrumental music teacher. In 1968, Hanlon and his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. He connected with the Si Zentner band and went on the road with him, then played in hotels up and down the Strip. Hanlon worked in bands that backed many famous headliners.

Hanlon was hired at the age of 29 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as chair of the music department. He kept this position for 16 years and took one year off to establish residency for his doctorate. Hanlon also served as Associate Provost Academic Budget and Facilities from 1994 to 2000, and Director of the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center from 2000 to 2017. He was instrumental in establishing the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center at UNLV and remained active with the Center throughout his life.

Hanlon was a member of the Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra; helped found the Nevada Dance Theater (now Nevada Ballet Theatre) in 1972; and was instrumental in the establishment of the Nevada School for the Arts, the New World Brass Quintet, Sierra Winds, the Las Vegas Opera Association, the Las Vegas Chamber Players, the Las Vegas Jazz Society, and other arts organizations. In 1984, Hanlon was chosen to receive the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award as an arts educator. He died November 27, 2018.