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 three large ensembles — Wind Orchestra, Concert Band, and the chamber winds group AMATI.

Our Wind Orchestra is recognized as a worldwide leader in the commissioning and performance of new works. Included within these commissions are 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 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).

In addition, the Wind Orchestra has specialized in the production of silent film accompaniments, created for regional tours — “The General,” and “Metropolis.”

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.

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.

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.

Conductor: Professor James Ripley

AMATI

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.

Touring

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, and southeastern United States, with six trips to Japan. The Wind Orchestra will return to Japan in January 2024, with plans to travel to Phoenix in 2022 and perform a new silent film on tour in 2023.

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.”

Goals

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.
  • 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 premier ensemble.
  • Concert Band opportunites for symphonic sound experience.
  • Flexible rehearsal schedule.
  • Touring for performance development, cohesion of ensemble and recruiting.
  • Clinics and outreach workshops for enhanced student preparation and recruiting.
  • Recording for performance development, cohesion of ensemble and recruiting.
  • Interacting and performing with world-class musicians.