Smallest and most select of the Bienen School’s wind ensembles, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble (SWE) presents a diverse repertoire of well-known masterworks and contemporary compositions. The ensemble features the finest undergraduate wind musicians studying in the Bienen School of Music, and its alumni perform in professional ensembles around the world.
Under the direction of Mallory Thompson, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble has participated in dozens of commissioning consortia and presented numerous world premieres, winning acclaim from composers John Adams, Michael Colgrass, John Corigliano, Karel Husa, Morten Lauridsen, David Maslanka, Jonathan Newman, Carter Pann, Joel Puckett, Joseph Schwantner, and Augusta Read Thomas.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has released seven albums, including Reflections (2017), Contemporaries (2015), rising (2011), Winds of Nagual (2012), Winds of Change (1997), and Through Countless Halls of Air (1994).
The ensemble was founded as the University Chamber Band in 1954, when director of bands John P. Paynter began experimenting with flexible instrumentation in a single-player-per-part configuration. Renamed the Symphonic Wind Ensemble in 1969, the group began developing a reputation for innovation and artistic performance, honoring and expressing the orchestral training and tradition of Northwestern’s applied faculty.
Mallory Thompson, conductor