Northshore Concert Band was founded as the Northbrook American Legion Community Concert Band in 1956 by John P. Paynter, director of bands at Northwestern University, accomplished arranger, and president of many band organizations, including the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and the American Bandmasters Association. Mr. Paynter led the band for forty years, establishing Northshore Concert Band as one of the world’s premier adult symphonic bands. Today, the Northshore Concert Band is led by Dr. Mallory Thompson, who first conducted the ensemble in 1999 and has served as Artistic Director since 2003.
Eleven members gather at the Geo. W. Benjamin American Legion Post No. 791 for the first rehearsal of the Northbrook American Legion Community Concert Band. The first concert is held on March 31, 1957, at Glenbrook High School. Shortly after, the band appears in the American Legion parade in downtown Chicago, marching backwards past the reviewing stand to be heard clearly. In 1958, the group is renamed the Northbrook Community Band, and expands to 50 members, all male.
Reflecting its new home at Howard School in Wilmette, the band’s name is changed to the Wilmette Community Concert Band in 1960. The following season, women were first allowed to join the ensemble and membership reached nearly 90 members. In 1962, the group became known as the Northshore Concert Band of Wilmette and Barbara Buehlman is named Business Manager. Performance opportunities continued to arise, including six appearances at the Midwest National Band Clinic (1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969), the band’s first international performance at the Waterloo International Clinic (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1964), and appearances at the American Bandmasters Association Convention (1966) and Mid-East Instrumental Music Conference (1966).
After fourteen years, the band’s first constitution was approved in 1970. Appearances by world-renowned guest artists and conductors continuedto increase, including performances by Warren Benson (1971), Dale Clevenger (1970), Donald Hunsberger (1971), William Revelli (1971), and Doc Severinsen (1979). Performances at the All-Eastern Band and Orchestra Clinic (1971), Illinois Music Educators Association Convention (1972), Wisconsin Music Educators Conference (1976), and Northwest Band Clinic (1979) supplemented an additional five performances at the Midwest Clinic (1970, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979). The band toured regularly, including regional tours to Mississippi and New Orleans (1973), Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan (1976), southern Illinois and Missouri (1977), and North Dakota (1979). The band’s first international tour occurred in 1975: a two-week European tour featuring performances in Paris, Lucerne, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Rotterdam, and London. On March 19, 1977, the band presented its first Festival of Winds, Percussion, Strings, and Piano at Northwestern University, including concerts, clinics, and adjudication for local music students.
As word spread of Northshore Concert Band’s successes, the group continued to expand its annual concert schedule. 1980 marked the band’s first appearance at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a relationship still active today. A second international tour occurred in 1983: a seven-day tour of Ontario, Canada, featuring a concert at the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto. In 1984, the band hosted the first annual Adult Band Conference and appeared for the first time at the National Convention of the Music Educators National Conference. 1987 marked the band’s first appearance at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) convention in Boston. Midwest Clinic performances included a special “Golden Oldies” concert (1982), a side-by-side concert with cartoonist Tom Batiuk (1989), and regular appearances in 1980, 1981, 1984, and 1986.
John P. Paynter, Northshore Concert Band’s founder and Music Director since its inception, died on February 4, 1996. A tribute concert by NCB musicians took place at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) North Central Division Conference. The following year, long-time Assistant Conductor and Business Manager, Barbara Buehlman, passed away. A memorial concert in September 1997 featured many of Barbara’s favorite arrangements, as well as a commissioned work from James Barnes titled All Pleasant Things. Under the leadership of Stephen Peterson, newly-appointed Music Director, and Dennis Montgomery, the band’s second Business Manager, the group upheld its tradition of musical excellence with performances at the Midwest Clinic, American School Band Directors Association Conference, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Peterson announced his resignation in 1998. The band elected to perform the 1998-1999 concert season without a permanent conductor, auditioning ten guest conductors over the season. Mallory Thompson made her first conducting appearance with the band during this season. In July 1999, NCB appointed John Lynch as the band’s third Music Director and Larry Stoffel as its second Assistant Conductor.
At the turn of the century, Mallory Thompson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor and the board of directors was hard at work planning a 2001 tour to French Riviera. The nine-day trip included concerts in Le Pradet, Seillans, La Mote, and the La Croix Valmer Festival Des Anches D’Azure. In return, the band hosted a French band from La Croix Valmer for a four-day visit and concert tour in 2002. The same year, John Lynch announced his resignation as Music Director and Larry Stoffel is named his successor. The band’s first Lifetime of Music concert occurred in 2003, featuring 40 outstanding high school musicians on stage with the band. The beginning of the 2003-2004 season brought new leadership to the band: Mallory Thompson, Artistic Director, and Richard Fischer, Music Director. Dr. Thompson accepted appointment as the band’s sole musical and artistic leader in 2005, just in time to begin the band’s 50th season celebration. The celebration featured several high-profile guest artists and commissions from prominent composers: Mark Camphouse (Symphonic Prelude), Michael Burritt (Duo Concertante for Clarinet and Percussion), Frank Ticheli (Nitro), and Johan de Meij (Windy City Overture).
2011 brought the first 50-year anniversary for a Northshore Concert Band Member: clarinetist Janet Schroeder, who was one of the first women to join the band. The group continued to pursue unique performance opportunities, including exchange concerts with the Blasorchester Niederschopfheim (Germany), and Westchester Symphonic Winds (New York). Appearances by guest artists included Axiom Brass, Barbara Butler, Jim Cornelison, Charles Geyer, Christopher and Michael Martin, Timothy McAllister, and Gene Pokorny. The 2015-2016 season celebrated the band’s 60th anniversary, beginning with the premiere of Michael Martin’s Zero to Sixty!, a NCB commission, and ending with an open invitation to all band alumni to perform a program of Northshore Concert Band classics.