The Knightliters Jazz Band I takes it’s name from the college’s mascot, the Wartburg Knight. The band is open to all Wartburg students through auditions held during the 1st week of the fall semester. The group rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 8:30-10:15 p.m. and most Sunday evenings from 8-9 p.m. Band members are required to attend a student-led sectional once a week. Several of the band’s members have majors other than music. The Knightliters perform several times through out the school year on campus and in the Cedar Valley. They perform one “run-out” concert each year. Many of the band’s alumni are successful public school band directors with active jazz band programs.
The Knightliters Jazz Band I was founded in 1959 by Dr. Robert E. Lee, Director of Bands at Wartburg College. Under his direction, the Knightliters issued recordings and toured the United States with the Wartburg Concert Band and Castle Singers. The Band also appeared with Dominick Spera, Howie Smith, Jim Coffin, Thomas L. Davis, and opened for the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. During the past 25 years, the band has appeared at the 1988 and 1992 Iowa Bandmaster’s Conventions, participated in the University of Northern Iowa Collegiate Jazz Festival, and given several high school and middle school jazz clinics. From 1998 to 2002 the band toured several areas of the United States and Australia with the Castle Singers. In the spring of 2000, the Knightliters performed as the opening band for the World famous Count Basie Orchestra at a concert in Swea City, Iowa.