The Eugene Symphonic Band is dedicated to enriching the greater Eugene community through performance and scholarship. Members showcase advanced proficiency on their instruments and are selected through audition. A brief history follows:
1957 - The group, initially called the Eugene Wind Ensemble, was organized by Robert Vagner to perform unusual music, both contemporary and historical. The Ensemble had a concert season of two or three concerts a year. Three rehearsals were set up for each concert, and the entire season paralleled the school year. Many of the performers were high school, junior high school, college, and university teachers.
1969 - The Ensemble changed character when it was re-organized as a permanent ensemble with regular weekly rehearsals and a set number of concerts in Eugene. At this time, the underlying purpose of the group was music education through the presentation of concerts to surrounding community areas.
1980s- The Eugene Wind Ensemble changed its name to the Eugene Symphonic Band in an attempt to better communicate the size and character of the group. ESB organized as a non-profit association, adopted a Constitution and Bylaws, and in 1989, established a budget in order to compensate the Conductor and Band Manager and began its first year of fundraising and the business drive. The Band performed with a variety of conductors and soloists throughout the decade. Notably, Wayne Bennett succeeded founder Robert Vagner in 1985 and was later followed by Patrick Casey. A highlight was performing at the Soreng Theater in the newly completed Hult Center with guest conductor, Frederick Fennell. The first Oregon Adult Band Conference is hosted by ESB at the UO School of Music.
1990s- A rich decade of concerts with a variety of guest performers, new band compositions, Adult Band Festivals, clinics, sponsorship of the Dallas Brass, an exchange trip to Canada, and the beginning of the Lifelong Music Scholarship. Under the baton of Eric Hammer, the group performed Saturday morning children’s concerts to the delight of young and old alike. Bob Ponto took the podium in the mid-90’s and led the group through the 2003 season.
2000s- An Outreach Program was developed to encourage student musicians, and ESB joins a high school band in a concert at their school and presents a check to the band program. The band joins the Washburne Park summer music series, performing each summer at the July 4th celebration. Conductors Mancho Gonzales, Burnette Dillon, Tim Paul, and Rodney Dorsey continue the tradition of renowned leadership.
2018- ESB celebrates their 60th season with a historic reception honoring numerous past directors and our talented members. As our rich tradition in the community continues, we are pleased to welcome Wayne Bennett back to the podium!