Founded in 1898, the Wartburg College Concert Bands program is comprised of two ensembles —the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band. Placement in the groups is determined by a yearly audition. Both groups represent students of all class standings and nearly all academic majors. The bands present joint and individual concerts throughout the year. Many of its 150 members are also involved in other music groups on campus, ranging from choirs to jazz bands, from campus ministry to student government.
The Wind Ensemble tours each spring and schedules an international tour every third year during Wartburg’s one-month May Term. In the spring of 2003, the Wind ensemble performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The group toured Europe in ’97, ’01, ’04, and ’10 and Japan in May 2007 and 2013.
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.