The History and Traditions
of the Concert Bands

Tour Bus
Getting ready for tour in the 1950s

The first mention of a Wartburg Band comes in 1898, but it disappeared from all college records immediately after its founding and didn't reappear again until 1914. The Great Depression forced the abandonment of the band program in 1931, but it was revived in 1937 until war year 1942 when the campus didn't have enough qualified musicians. Following the war, however, the band program was resumed, and it has flourished since.

In the fall of 1997 the Wartburg College Concert Band split into a two-band program. The resulting ensembles, the Symphonic Band and the Wind Ensemble, have retained the traditions and the same high standard of excellence. For these reasons the groups remain united under the title of the Wartburg College Concert Bands. The Wind Ensemble tours abroad every three years. in 2004 the Wind Ensemble performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and made it's first tour of Japan in 2007.

Director History

Ernst Heist
Edfield Odegard
Ernest Hagen
Dr. Robert E. Lee
Dr. Craig Hancock


1. Band Bonding: At the beginning of each year the WCCBs join together for a weekend of music, fun, and fellowship. It serves as a get-to-know-you experience as well as a time to get a jump on the musical aspects.

2. Family: The Wartburg College Concert Bands strive to treat each performer as a member of a family. Although the members come from a variety of places and backgrounds this bond of family and love is something important to the ensemble.

3. Singing: The WCCBs believe that although they are an instrumental ensemble, they can sing also! There are several songs near and dear to the program and serve in specific capacities.

A. Table Prayer: This song is sung before every meal that the WCCBs share together. This includes band bonding, run-out weekends, and tours.

B. Wartburg Loyalty: This song is the official closer to every meal and gathering that the group holds.

C. Doxology: This traditional hymn is sacred to the group. It serves as a prayer before every concert the WCCBs give.

4. Nearer My God to Thee (2.2 MB)/ The Lord Bless You and Keep You (1.2 MB): These two pieces are the traditional closers to every concert the group gives. Nearer My God to Thee is an instrumental work that signifies unity and love between each other and God. It serves as a thank you to God for a good concert. Sometimes the piece is played at rehearsals for band members and their families who are experiencing hard times. It is the group's way of praying for and letting them know that they are being thought about. The Lord Bless You and Keep You serves as a farewell blessing to those who have attended a concert given by the WCCBs. It is performed immediately after Nearer My God to Thee and is always the last thing audiences will hear.