DMA, Eastman School of Music

Mallory Thompson '79, '80 MMus is director of bands, professor of music, coordinator of the conducting program, and holds the John W. Beattie Chair of Music at Northwestern University. In 2003 she was named a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence. As only the third person in the university's history to hold the director of bands position, Thompson conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, teaches undergraduate and graduate conducting, and administers all aspects of the band program. She has made five recordings with the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on the Summit Records label, which are available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, led the Symphonic Wind Ensemble in performances at the College Band Directors National Association national conventions in 2001 and 2017 and has earned praise from composers including John Adams, Michael Colgrass, John Corigliano, Jennifer Higdon, Karel Husa, Morten Lauridsen, David Maslanka, Jonathan Newman, Carter Pann, Joel Puckett, Kevin Puts, and Adam Schoenberg.

Thompson received the Bachelor of Music Education degree and Master of Music degree in conducting from Northwestern University, where she studied conducting with John P. Paynter and trumpet with Vincent Cichowicz. She received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Donald Hunsberger.

Maintaining an active schedule as a guest conductor, conducting teacher, and guest lecturer throughout the United States and Canada, Thompson has had the privilege of teaching conducting to thousands of undergraduates, graduate students, and professional educators. She has served as a conductor or clinician at the College Band Directors National Association regional and national conventions, the Midwest Clinic, the Interlochen Arts Academy, numerous state music conventions, and the Aspen Music Festival. In addition to conducting all-state ensembles throughout the United States, she has had professional engagements as guest conductor with the United States Air Force Band, the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the United States Army Field Band, the United States Coast Guard Band, the United States Navy Band, the West Point Band, the Dallas Wind Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Monarch Brass Ensemble, and Banda Sinfônica in Sao Pãulo, Brazil. In 2019, she was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Midwest Clinic in recognition of her service to music education and continuing influence on the development and improvement of bands and orchestras worldwide. Her professional affiliations include the College Band Directors National Association, and the American Bandmasters Association.

Dr. Thompson is especially proud of her 58 graduate conducting students and the hundreds of outstanding Symphonic Wind Ensemble members with whom she has had the joy of making music at Northwestern. She treasures her relationship with the Wildcat Marching Band and is honored to preserve and grow Northwestern’s legacy.

Upcoming Events

Bienen Ensembles

February 23, 2024 7:30pm

Symphonic Wind Ensemble

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall


Northwestern’s first woman director of bands to retire

October 5, 2023

‘Spring Fanfare’ honors the breadth of all that is Northwestern

May 24, 2023

Bienen concert premieres commissioned wind arrangement of ‘Losing Earth’

October 20, 2022

Bienen School's Black Composer Showcase series continues

June 15, 2022

Bienen ensembles perform works by Nemmers Prize winner William Bolcom

April 5, 2022

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Symphonic Wind Ensemble