Mallory Thompson

Artistic Director

Mallory Thompson 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 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 recorded five albums with the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on the Summit Records label.

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 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. Her professional affiliations include Pi Kappa Lambda, the College Band Directors National Association, and the American Bandmasters Association.

Dr. Thompson is especially proud of her 53 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.


Dan Farris

Assistant Conductor

Daniel J. Farris is in his 15th year as Director of Athletic Bands at Northwestern University where he is responsible for conducting the Wildcat Marching Band and Concert Band, and teaching courses in conducting and music education.  He has been the Assistant Conductor of the Northshore Concert Band since 2006.  Mr. Farris holds degrees in Music Education from James Madison University and the University of Illinois.

Prior to moving to Northwestern, Mr. Farris served as Assistant Director of Bands at Illinois State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  He was also the Director of the Walt Disney World Collegiate All-Star Band in Orlando, FL, and taught in the public schools of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Bands under his direction have performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Bands of America Regional and National Championships, the Dublin, Ireland St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the Outback, Ticket City, Alamo, Meineke Car Care, and Sun Bowls. 

Mr. Farris has been an active clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor throughout the United States and Canada.  He is a member of the National Band Association, College Band Directors National Association, an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma/Kappa Kappa Psi, and serves as a faculty adviser of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Iota Chapter.