The Mallory Thompson Fund to Benefit NU Bands

Mallory Thompson, director of bands and John W. Beattie Chair of Music at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, will retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year following a 28-year teaching and conducting career at Northwestern.

To honor Thompson's remarkable Northwestern career, we invite you to make a gift to The Mallory Thompson Fund to Benefit NU Bands.

Funds will be used for both academic and athletic bands at Northwestern to support commissions, equipment and instrument purchases, guest artists, recordings, and other needs to enhance the student experience.

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“The greatest honor of my professional life has been conducting the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. I’m proud of the music we have made together and our commitment to honoring the talents of our students every day."

Mallory Thompson

About Mallory Thompson

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 1996, she made history as the first woman to be named director of bands and only the third person to hold the title at Northwestern.

Her musical roots trace back to Northwestern where she earned an undergraduate degree in 1979 in trumpet performance under the tutelage of the renowned Vincent Cichowicz, a distinguished member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She then earned a Master of Music degree in conducting as a student of John P. Paynter, the school’s second director of bands.

Throughout her tenure, Thompson directed the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Northwestern’s most selective wind ensemble. The ensemble has participated in dozens of commissioning consortia, presented numerous world premieres and recorded five albums.

Maintaining an active schedule as a guest conductor, conducting teacher and guest lecturer throughout the United States and Canada, Thompson has taught conducting to thousands of undergraduates, graduate students and professional educators. Her former students hold important positions in universities, public schools, military bands and arts organizations across the country.

A Season of Celebration

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble's 2023-24 season is a celebratory musical journey, featuring a selection of compositions from the ensemble's recorded legacy alongside a mix of outstanding standard repertoire and contemporary works.

2023-24 Symphonic Wind Ensemble Concerts

Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble opens the academic year with Kevin Day’s spirited Dancing Fire, which evokes the image of friends dancing and celebrating around a roaring bonfire. The work is followed by Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, originally written for a cappella choir; its shimmering, fluid harmonies depict a radiant and angelic visitation. Launy Grøndahl’s dramatic Concerto for Trombone features 2023 Northwestern Concerto Competition winner Dustin Nguyen as soloist. Concluding the program is Ottorino Respighi’s monumental tone poem Pines of Rome, in the year of its 100th anniversary.

Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.

The ensemble’s second concert of the fall quarter is centered around themes of loss, grief, and spirituality. Carlos Simon’s Go Down Moses, inspired by the spiritual of the same name, depicts the Biblical story of Moses and the ten plagues from the perspective of the despairing Pharaoh. Dream Elegy, composed by new Bienen School dean Jonathan Bailey Holland, is a somber response to the Black Lives Matter movement, dedicated to those who felt powerless against the system that allowed racist acts of violence to occur. Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen and transcribed from the original works by Henry Purcell, Steven Stucky’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary is a haunting mix of Baroque and contemporary sounds. The concert closes with Olivier Messiaen’s massive commemoration of the dead of both world wars, Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum.

Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

The ensemble’s first winter performance is centered around the inspiration composers have found in music from the past. Neo-classical composer Igor Stravinsky’s Circus Polka was commissioned by the Barnum and Bailey circus and written for a performance featuring 50 trained elephants and 50 dancers. Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, featuring Bienen faculty pianist James Giles, takes its inspiration from the 18th century three-movement form. Giovanni Gabrieli’s timeless Canzon primi toni, showcasing resplendent brass choirs, is followed by Kathryn Salfelder’s Cathedrals, directly influenced by Gabrieli and 16th-century counterpoint. Closing the program is Paul Dooley’s Masks and Machines, which takes inspiration from Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella as well as Renaissance-inspired dance performances by Oskar Schlemmer.

Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

The ensemble’s second winter concert opens with two works by the late Romantic composer Richard Strauss. His Festmusik der Stadt Wien is a thrilling tribute to the City Council of Vienna, who had given Strauss a Beethoven Prize the year prior. Inspired by the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, Strauss composed his Serenade, Op. 7 at the age of 17. Anna Clyne’s Masquerade, a vibrant tribute to the 18th-century promenades held in London’s Pleasure Gardens, closes the first half of the concert. Karel Husa’s Concerto for Wind Ensemble concludes the performance with a showcase of the technical and virtuosic abilities of each instrument in the ensemble.

Friday, April 19, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

The ensemble’s first concert of the spring quarter focuses on inspiration and dedication. A cherished cornerstone of the wind repertoire, the Robert Reynolds transcription of Morten Lauridsen’s choral setting of O magnum mysterium is a centerpiece of the performance, which also features music of Egil Hovland and Joan Tower. The concert concludes with a work by Northwestern alumnus and member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra trumpet section Michael Martin. His Lontano: Symphony for Wind Ensemble was premiered by the Symphonic Wind Ensemble in 2016, and is dedicated to Mallory Thompson and the ensemble.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

The ensemble’s final concert of the academic year celebrates the career and musical leadership of conductor Mallory Thompson. The program, featuring a variety of wind ensemble favorites, opens with Dr. Thompson’s arrangement of the Prelude to Act III, Dance, and Finale from from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which she dedicated to her teacher and mentor Donald Hunsberger. Concluding the evening is David Maslanka’s monumental Symphony No. 4.

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Honor Mallory Thompson's Northwestern legacy with a gift

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