Janis McKay

Associate Professor of Music
Principal Bassoon, Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra
Expertise: Las Vegas music history, Music industry, Bassoon


Janis McKay, an associate professor of bassoon at UNLV, is the author of a book about Las Vegas casino musicians published by the University of Nevada Press in April 2016, Played Out on the Strip: The Rise and Fall of Las Vegas Casino Bands.

McKay is the principal bassoon of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra. She also performs as principal bassoon for the Classical Music Festival in Austria and as contrabassoon for the Reno Philharmonic.

Additionally, McKay has held positions and performed with numerous orchestras including the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Reno Chamber Orchestra, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston (WV) Orchestra, the Springfield (OH) Symphony Orchestra, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, and the Louisville Orchestra among many others. As a freelance musician in Las Vegas, McKay has performed or toured with such artists as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Charlotte Church, John Williams, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Gloria Estafan, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Metallica, Stevie Wonder, and Tony Bennett.

She has twice been a featured soloist with the International Music Festival in Ukraine, twice with the Classical Music Festival touring Austria and Hungary, and once with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. She may be heard on Summit, d'Note, Starkland Records, and First Edition recordings. Her solo CD, Dark Wind, was released by Troppo Note Publishing in 2016.

McKay previously taught at Baylor University, Capital University, the Ohio Wesleyan University, and Wright State University. 


  • D.M.A. The Ohio State University
  • M.M. University of Louisville
  • B.M.E. University of Georgia

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Janis McKay In The News

Las Vegas Review Journal
Who has better Las Vegas entertainment stories than the people who were backstage, and even onstage, with the stars? A couple of recent books remind us of the big role supporting musicians played in the city’s show business history. Admittedly, I’m a little partial to both.

Articles Featuring Janis McKay