The Carthage College Band, one of the oldest college bands in the United States, was established as a brass band in 1873 under the leadership of Professor J. M. Helfrich. From its humble beginnings as a six-piece brass ensemble, the band has grown to now include two large ensembles — Wind Orchestra, Concert Band, and the chamber winds group AMATI. During the 2023-24 academic year, the bands have planned many events to commemorate the anniversary.

Our Wind Orchestra is recognized as a worldwide leader in the commissioning and performance of new works. Included within these commissions are Jennifer Higdon’s Aspire (written for the 2022 WASBE Conference in Prague), James Stephenson’s This is Most Certainly True (written for the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Church), Alex Shapiro’s Liquid Compass (written for the 140th anniversary of the Carthage Band), Andre Previn’s Music for Wind and Percussion, Stacy Garrop’s Alpenglow and Mythology Suite, and Xi Wang’s Winter Blossom. To celebrate 150 Years of Carthage Women, the College commissioned works by Judy Bozone (Rise Up!), Jocelyn Hagen (Shieldmaiden), and Sydney Kjerstad (Talitha Cumi).

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Carthage Bands, the college, music department, and alumni have commissioned Timothy Mahr a new work entitled FORTITUDE.

In addition, the Wind Orchestra has specialized in the production of silent film accompaniments created for regional tours — “The General” and “Metropolis.” Performances of the Wind Orchestra have been heard at the 2009 and 2014 Conferences of the Wisconsin Music Educators and the 2011 Convention of the National Band Association’s Wisconsin Chapter. In 2017, the Wind Orchestra performed at Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center in Chicago.

The band has a long and distinguished history of service to Carthage and the artistic life of the communities of Kenosha, Wis., and Carthage, Ill., and has maintained a rich tradition of touring the Midwest, along with international study tours in Japan. Our Concert Band and Wind Orchestra also host the annual Lakeside Band Festival.

Our guest conductors include James Barnes, Andrew Boysen Jr., Bill Connor, Johan DeMeij, Evan Feldman, Ralph Hultgren, Libby Larsen, Timothy Mahr, Jonathan Newman, James Stephenson, Frank Ticheli, and Dana Wilson. The Carthage band claims as one of its most outstanding alumni the composer David Uber.

Hear recordings of the Wind Orchestra
More about the Wind Orchestra and Concert Band

The Wind Orchestra Philosophy

Simply put, a wind orchestra is a group of musicians playing wind and percussion instruments. However, the wind orchestra includes only the composer’s specified instrumentation. Moreover, the wind orchestra layers the timbres of each instrument, rather than mixing them. Finally, the wind orchestra places optimal value on the expressive contribution of each member. The primary advantage of a wind orchestra is that it can change timbre based on the style of composition. Scholarships to play in the Wind Orchestra are available for both music majors and non-majors. Our Wind Orchestra rehearsals are 75 minutes, meeting three times each week.

Conductor: Professor James Ripley

The Carthage Concert Band

The Concert Band carries on the band’s long tradition of performing works of historical importance as well as a variety of outstanding new compositions. Symphonic band principles are utilized to formulate the sound of this ensemble. Music education students regularly rehearse and conduct the Concert Band in concert, in consultation with the director. Scholarships to play in the Concert Band are available for both music majors and non-majors. Our Concert Band rehearsals are 60 minutes, meeting twice each week.

Conductor: Professor James Ripley


This small chamber ensemble is a flexible instrumentation group that performs as special repertoire selections require. Truly a mixed ensemble, AMATI is formed with woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, and keyboard instruments. As Much As There Is, the “meaning” behind the acronym, not only describes the one to a part performance concept but also the degree of musicianship required of its players and the musical friendship between them.


Carthage music ensembles regularly tour internationally, nationally, and regionally. The Wind Orchestra is the primary touring ensemble in the instrumental area.

In recent years the Wind Orchestra has toured the Midwest, mid-east, southeastern and southwestern United States, with six trips to Japan. The Wind Orchestra will return to Japan in January 2024.

Wind Orchestra tours specialize in developing historical presentations, such as the 2014 program for a 28-piece “military band” of the early 20th century, or silent film theatre orchestra settings for classics like “Metropolis” or “The General.” The 2022 tour to Phoenix featured music from the Lenten season.


The vision of the Carthage College Band program is that it will be the exemplar of private school instrumental music education in the United States. Ways that this vision will be accomplished include:

  • Developing each student’s own musical potential to the fullest degree.
  • Promoting imagination and creativity in all manner of communication.
  • Dual emphasis on chamber music and large ensemble performance.
  • Rehearsal approaches that support teacher training and music education, as well as exemplary performance standards.
  • Wind Orchestra methodology for ensemble sound in a premier ensemble.
  • Concert Band opportunities for symphonic sound experience.
  • Flexible rehearsal schedule.
  • Touring and outreach to develop perspective, service, and community Interacting and performing with world-class musicians.