A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Dr. Denniston was born into a musical family and began violin studies at the age of five. He became enamored with the sound of the horn after hearing the score to the motion picture Star Wars and knew that it was the instrument for him. After years of private study with members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Following graduation, he was the first horn player accepted into Manhattan’s Orchestral Performance program. In 1993, while still a graduate student, he received his first job with the national tour of Phantom of the Opera.
Four years and over 1,500 performances later, Dr. Denniston left the tour and settled in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley where he completed his Masters degree at Brigham Young University and performed with several of Utah’s finest ensembles including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. (He met his wife Tara on the Tabernacle Choir’s Sesquicentennial tour of Utah in 1997). He moved to Michigan in 2002 to study at the University of Michigan where he received his Doctorate in Applied Music in 2006. In 2007 he returned to the national tour of Phantom of the Opera for a three year tour of the US and Canada which concluded the longest continuous tour of a Broadway show (18 years) when Phantom closed in Los Angeles in November 2010.
In addition to Broadway, Dr. Denniston’s professional activities have included opera, ballet, chamber music, and studio sessions for television, film, and commercial music. He has performed with the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Detroit Chamber Winds, Ann Arbor Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Flint Symphony, Oakland Symphony, Traverse Symphony, Lansing Symphony, Woodward Corridor Musicians, Mistral Winds, Utah Symphony, Ballet West, Utah Chamber Orchestra, and Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, among others. Dr. Denniston was also a founding member of the Manhattan Brass Quintet (now the Manhattan Brass). These activities have allowed him to perform throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He performed in the first Broadway musical to appear in mainland China when Cameron Mackintosh presented Les Miserables in Shanghai, China in the summer of 2002.
Dr. Denniston has played under the direction of several of the world’s finest conductors including Seiji Ozawa, Keith Lockhart, Leonard Slatkin, Roger Norrington, Kurt Masur, and John Rutter. One of his most memorable experiences was the opportunity to play under the direction of Leonard Bernstein as a Tanglewood Fellow in 1990 in a performance of Copland’s Third Symphony—one of the maestro’s final performances.
When he is not working as a private teacher or freelance musician in the Detroit area, he cherishes the time he spends with his wife Tara and daughter Lena.