Our Mission

The Minnesota Symphonic Winds (MSW) is an adult concert band serving the greater Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) metropolitan area.

Its purposes are:

  • To provide continued musical education and performing opportunities for post-college age musicians
  • To enhance, enrich, and expand the musical experience available to adults in the Twin Cities area.

Founded in 1978, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds celebrates its 40th season delivering the finest symphonic concert band literature to audiences in the Twin Cities and around the world. The ensemble consists of more than 90 musicians who rehearse weekly from September through early June. In addition to being accomplished musicians, members of the adult community band are Twin Cities area residents who represent a diversity of professions – lawyers, bankers, doctors, secretaries, music teachers, homemakers and more. The Minnesota Symphonic Winds provides an opportunity for musicians who might not otherwise have an outlet for their musical expression and talent to participate actively and regularly in musical performance. The band was formed in order to provide continued musical education and performing opportunities for post‐college age musicians who might not otherwise have an outlet for their musical expression. A second important purpose of the band is to enhance, enrich, and expand affordable musical experiences available to adults in the Twin Cities area.

Originally under the direction of Miles H. “Mity” Johnson, who served for 37 years as professor of music at St. Olaf College and conductor of the St. Olaf Band, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds has been under the leadership of principal conductor Timothy Mahr since 1999. William Webb served as associate conductor from 1987-2016, and Paul Kile transitioned into that role in the fall of 2016.

At the core of the Minnesota Symphonic Winds is the idea that music enhances and adds value to the lives of those who perform, as well as the lives of the listening audience. We gather each week to rehearse because we know that music is good for the soul, and the community that we have knit is therapy for our lives. There is great joy in making music for the sake of music itself. Sharing with our audiences only enhances that joy.

The Minnesota Symphonic Winds presents five to six concerts each season in churches, schools, colleges, concert halls and parks both locally and throughout Minnesota. In the 1980s the band was regularly heard on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Live from Landmark” series. In 1990 the group appeared at the Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter In‐service Clinic, and in 1991 it was one of seven American community bands invited to perform in Lucerne, Switzerland at the 700th anniversary celebration band festival. In the summer of 1997 the band toured the Caribbean and in June 2003 the band performed at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay in Singapore. Most recently, the band completed a performance tour of Alaska in June 2006.

Active in the creation and support of new band music by Minnesota composers, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds commissioned Daniel Kallman to write Yankee Doodling – A Young Person’s Guide to the Concert Band in honor of its 20th anniversary. In 2003 the band premiered commissioned works by John Zdechlik and Carl Schroeder as part of its 25th anniversary celebration. Another highlight in the history of the band was the presentation of a Minnesota Composers Concert in 1994, featuring six of the state’s best‐known composers conducting their own works. Also part of the 20th anniversary celebration in 1998, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds released a compact disc of favorite works for the concert band. Minnesota composers John Paulsen, J. Robert Hanson, Daniel Kallman and Timothy Mahr are represented on the recording.

In 2008 the Minnesota Symphonic Winds was selected to join a dozen other superior ensembles world wide at the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago.

MSW is sponsored in part by the Edina, MN Community Education Program, and corporate, individual, and performing members contributions.

Collaborating with Musicians in the Twin Cities and Beyond

MSW believes strongly that by collaborating with other community ensembles and musicians, great
things can happen!

  • We have shared concerts with other community bands including; Prairie Winds in Willmar, Twin Ports Wind Ensemble in Duluth, and Grand Symphonic Winds in St. Paul.
  • We have performed joint concerts with St. Olaf College and Concordia College – Moorhead.
  • Inviting guest conductors to make music with us has been an annual tradition.
  • Featuring ensembles like the Summit Hill Brass and Kogen Taiko supports their musical endeavors while enhancing our programming as well.
  • Performing annually with high school ensembles in a massed band setting perpetuates the belief that one’s interest and passion for music can continue well beyond high school and college days.
Broadening our Visibility

MSW consistently strives to reach new audiences and broaden our own musical experiences. Some of
our accomplishments and future endeavors include

  • Investigating opportunities to participate in Bands of America Conference
  • Performance at Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter Clinic
  • Invited to perform at the prestigious Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago, 2008

MSW is proud of its history of commissioning new works from major composers as well as up and coming young composers. Past commissions include works from John Zdechlik, Daniel Kallman , Timothy Mahr, Carl Schroeder, Teddie Neidermeyer and Carl Holmquist. We will continue to support composers through our commissions and thus expand the repertoire of band music.

Crossing Musical Boundaries

The Minnesota Symphonic Winds’ involvement in the community crosses musical boundaries. We’re proud of the fact that MSW has donated it services as a performing ensemble to support various charities including; “Cancer Connection” (benefit concert presented in Juneau, Alaska at the request of Nancy Murkowsi, First Lady of Alaska) and benefit concert for Kinampanda Lutheran Church in Tanzania. This is a normal part of what we do. We will continue to support the good work of others in our community.