The Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble traces its roots back to the Carnegie Tech Kiltie Band. Founded in 1908 by just seven people, the Kiltie Band grew and enjoyed a long and distinguished history as a full concert band. For the next four decades, it was the preeminent performing ensemble in the university, taking biannual concert tours to Carnegie Hall in New York City. Among the band’s distinguished directors were William Schaffer, Dr. Richard Strange, and Philip Catelinet.
In 1976 Leonard Geissel was hired as director, replacing the retiring Philip Catelinet. Geissel reorganized the group into the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble and positioned it as a major performing ensemble for the School of Music’s wind, brass and percussion majors.
After Leonard Geissel’s departure from CMU in the late 1980s, the ensemble had a series of directors, including Eduardo Alonso Crespo, Keith Lockhart (now with the Boston Pops), and Dr. Jon Mitchell. Denis Colwell, the former music director of the River City Brass, directed the ensemble from 1993 until 2011. Under Colwell’s direction the ensemble recorded music by Nancy Galbraith, Leonardo Balada and Efrain Amaya as well as various pieces for Smart Music education software. The Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble also frequently collaborated with the Carnegie Mellon University Concert Choirs and the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh.
Upon Colwell’s promotion to Interim Head in 2011 (and then Head in 2012), Music Directors Thomas Thompson and George Vosburgh, along with Associate Director Stephen Story, currently direct the Ensemble.