25th Anniversary History
In the spring of 1998, a few musicians met at C. J. Muggs in downtown Clayton to discuss an idea that had been germinating for several months: the formation of an independent community wind group that would offer quality performances of exciting and aesthetically satisfying music. The music leadership would be provided by Mr. Dan Presgrave, Director of Bands and Symphony Orchestra conductor at Washington University, and the ensemble would be known as the St. Louis Wind Symphony. Members of this initial group included Cathy Warner, Cathy Lane, Pete Poletti, Dan Presgrave, Mary Rasp, and Mark Smith.
The group came up with a list of possible performers and the calling of these musicians began. What was thought to be a hard task turned out to be very easy, as word-of-mouth about the formation of the new group brought calls of inquiry to the group, not from it.
From its inception the Wind Symphony was to be an ensemble that provided opportunities for music educators to continue to perform on their instruments. This goal was achieved and continues to this day as one-third to one-half of the ensemble are practicing music teachers.
The first performances of the group were of a smaller variety, however, as two chamber concerts were given at Eliot Chapel in Clayton (May 17, 1998) and St. Margaret of Scotland in Compton Heights (May 31, 1998). This group was known as the St. Louis Chamber Winds and remained an important part of the Wind Symphony performance ‘family.’
With its roster set, an ambitious performance schedule was arranged for the 1998-1999 season. Four concerts (and rehearsals) were scheduled. The concerts were held at four high schools in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Small (but enthusiastic) crowds were present at each concert and the news of the high level of performance quality started to spread. These schools were Ladue, Lafayette, Edwardsville, and Mary Institute/Country Day high schools.
It was the early practice of the Wind Symphony to give its performances twice on a concert day (a practice wisely stopped after the second year). An evening performance was given at the then-named St. Louis Symphony Music School, in conjunction with a performance by the school’s Wind Ensemble. An important fund-raiser for the group was a summer pops concert in Carondelet Park in south St. Louis. It was held on the July 4th weekend. The Wind Symphony’s website (at www.stlwindsym.org) was also launched with Mark Smith developing it.
Program for the first Wind Symphony Concert
Carl Holmquist - Play (2001)
Joe Pastor - Chorale for Concert Band (2013)
Jared Spears - Unleashed (2013), An Introduction to End All Introductions (2016)
Dallas Blair - Variations on Aurelia (2010), Symphonic Suite (2016)
Dakota Pederson - Armory (2022)
Andrew Boyson - Symphony No. 7: A Symphony for Sam (2014)
Julie Giroux - Symphony No. 5: Heartlands (2016)
Robert Langenfeld - Concerto for Wind Ensemble (2018)
William Owens - Fourth City: Rise of a Metropolis (2022, Composed for the Wind Symphony Youth Ensemble)
Robert Sheldon - Sixty-Six (2022)
Wind Symphony Conductors
Dan Presgrave - Founder, Director Emeritus (1998 - 2016)
Ken Thompson - Assistant Conductor (2000 - 2005)
Tom Poshak - Associate Conductor and Music Director (2004 - Present)
Gary Brandes - Associate Conductor (2017-2022)
Youth Ensemble Conductors
Gary Brandes - Founder
Andy Messerli - Founder
Sophie Browning - Guest Conductor
Matt McKeever - Guest Conductor
Erica Neidlinger - Guest Conductor
William Owens - Guest Conductor
Missouri Music Educators Association (2001, 2014, 2018, 2022)
Missouri Bandmasters Association (2002, 2006, 2019)
American School Band Directors Association (2004)