For more than a century, Northwestern University student musicians have upheld a tradition of excellence.
The first student band at Northwestern University began in 1911, and the formal band program began in 1926 under the leadership of Glenn Cliffe Bainum. The devotion to high standards that he instilled was carried on from 1953 to 1996 by John P. Paynter. Now the Bienen School of Music is proud to have Mallory Thompson as Director of Bands. Under her direction, the bands at Northwestern continue to expand and evolve in their position of national and international leadership.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble, called “the nation’s finest” by prominent wind band conductors in America, has specialized in the interpretation of the richest and most demanding repertoire. The Symphonic Band and Concert Band offer musicians at Northwestern the opportunity to perform original and transcribed musical literature for winds. Beyond the Northwestern Bands, jazz ensembles and the Contemporary Music Ensemble produce exciting, quality performances in their respective idioms.
The Northwestern University “Wildcat” Marching Band (NUMB) and Northwestern University “Wildcat” Basketball Band (NUBB) perform widely at university events and have traveled the nation. Conducted by Bienen School faculty and sponsored by the Department of Athletics, the athletics band program includes students from nearly every major and every school at Northwestern. The marching band is known as “The Finest Band in the Land,” and won national acclaim when it was awarded the Sudler Trophy by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation.