The rich tradition of the South Dakota State University concert band program spans over 100 years. In its infancy, the band participated in the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 under the direction of John Parmalee Mann. From 1911 until 1954, Major Carl Christensen conducted both the marching and band programs, bringing international recognition to the college for its performances. The modern era of the band program came to fruition under the leadership of former directors Warren Hatfield, Darwin Walker, and James McKinney.
Three concert bands currently perform under the direction of Jacob Wallace and Kevin Kessler, who are recognized for their artistry and success in educating students. Their broad knowledge of both the masterworks of the repertoire and new music make the concert bands of SDSU an outstanding, vibrant arena for collegiate musicians to expand their artistic experience.
The Wind Symphony is the premier concert band on the campus of SDSU. Consisting of approximately 55 students who are selected by audition each year, it is acclaimed as one of the finest university bands in the region. Wind Symphony performs a wide variety of literature written for the wind band medium with repertoire spanning from the Renaissance to world premiere contemporary works. Recent guest artists include Travis Cross, Charles Lazarus, John Mackey, Kevin Sedatole, Kenneth Tse and She-e Wu. The Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Jacob Wallace, performs each year for the South Dakota Bandmasters Association In-Service Conference, and in March 2017 was invited to perform at Chicago Symphony Center as a part of the Percy Grainger Wind Band Festival.
Concert Band, which is open to all SDSU students with instrumental per- forming experience, consists of students representing all colleges at SDSU. This organization provides an excellent opportunity for students to continue their musical interests while pursuing a degree in music or other areas, with varied and challenging repertoire that frequently high- lights guest artist collaborations and masterworks of the core wind band repertoire. The Concert Band is directed by Dr. Kevin Kessler.
CommUniversity Band is open to all SDSU students and community members, consists primarily of non-music majors and requires no audition. This ensemble performs music that represents the finest selections for developing ensembles, including classic arrangements and transcriptions, marches, and original wind band repertoire. CommUniversity Band is under the direction of Dr. Kevin Kessler.