The Casco Bay Wind Symphony (CBWS), a non-profit organization of about 70 adult musicians from 19 to 93, was formed in February 1980 as the Peoples Community Concert Band, under the auspices of the Peoples United Methodist Church of South Portland, Maine. The first performance was May 5, 1980, at the Peoples United Methodist Church. In 2015 the name was changed from the Casco Bay Concert Band, to the Casco Bay Wind Symphony, to better reflect the group's current repertoire.
The wind symphony members come from various musical backgrounds, professions, and localities from all around Casco Bay. More than a third of the members are music educators and professional musicians, while the majority of the members continue their music as an avocation. The result is a group of music ambassadors, with a mission to demonstrate that the arts, and music in particular, are a lifelong pursuit and opportunity for enjoyment. The study and performance on a musical instrument need not end with an individual's graduation from school. To that end, Casco Bay Wind Symphony is committed to providing high quality, low cost musical experiences for audiences of Greater Portland, and role models and leadership for the music programs in the K-12 public schools in southern Maine. The wind symphony incorporated in 1986, and has an active executive board of seven members.
The Casco Bay Wind Symphony has in the past cooperated with the Portland Concert Association in its biannual program to hire a guest conductor to give workshops in the local schools and conduct joint concerts with the University of Southern Maine and Portland Youth Wind Ensemble. Past years have featured such prominent guest conductors as:
Frederick Fennell (Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra)
Richard Suddendorf (University of Western Michigan, retired)
Alan McMurray (University of Colorado)
Jerry Junkin (University of Texas)
Stanley Hettinger (University of New Hampshire)
Thomas Everett (Harvard University)
Richard Floyd (University Interscholastic League, Austin, Texas)
Peter Martin (University of Southern Maine)
Eugene Corporon (University of North Texas)
John Boyd (Indiana State University)
Jack Stamp (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Robert Spradling (Western Michigan University)
Each March the wind symphony supports Music In Our Schools month by performing a joint concert with an area high school band. On four occasions the band has hosted R. B. Hall Day, an annual festival of community bands that is free for all. In 2001, and again in 2015, CBWS hosted the festival in Gorham where it was attended by more than 500 tourists and area residents. These are only a few examples of the ways the Casco Bay Wind Symphony contributes to the Greater Portland community.
The Metropolitan Wind Symphony of Boston recognizes top community bands in New England, and has frequently invited Casco Bay Wind Symphony to perform at the Boston Festival of Bands at Faneuil Hall.
CBWS has featured such musicians as Ronald Barron (former principal trombonist, Boston Symphony Orchestra), Dr. Peter Tanner (former percussion instructor, University of Massachusetts, former marimba soloist, the United States Marine Band "The President's Own"), Randy Judkins (Visual Comedian), Kenneth Radnofsky (New England Conservatory and Boston Symphony), and the Phil Rich Big Band. The band has premiered several works, including Robert Carabia's Gershwin, Jazz a la Mode, Mark Fredericks' Songs of Garmonbozia, Aeritin and Salvation, and Terry White's Concerto for Doubles. In 1990, to commemorate the band's 10th anniversary, it commissioned and premiered Maine Vigils by the noted American composer, Daniel Bukvich.
The Casco Bay Wind Symphony performs its regular season of three concerts at the McCormack Performing Arts Center at Gorham High School, and is engaged for several more concerts throughout Maine each year. Our already low admission price is further reduced for seniors, and students of all ages are admitted free to all concerts. The performance schedule, musical selection, low cost, and accessible facility are designed to appeal to a broad audience of families, students and retirees of Greater Portland.