Symphonic Winds Instrumental Chamber Music

Expanding Horizons—Performing Great Music—Creating Lasting Memories

"Symphonic Winds was a pivotal part of my college experience. From my first rehearsal, I was hooked. The repertoire was challenging but fun to play, and I was always proud of our performances. The ensemble allowed me to make friends outside of my major, some of which I am still great friends with today. I am so grateful to Simon Tillier and the Symphonic Winds program for providing me with a creative outlet and experiences that I will bring with me forever. It has encouraged me to continue my musical career into graduate school and beyond."

Katie Kubat ’20

"Symphonic Winds was a place where I could refocus, socialize and feel accomplished. Due to my experiences in the ensemble I will continue performing music throughout my life, while pursuing my dreams."

Brittney Ferrian ’17

"Symphonic Winds offered me a close-knit and diverse community to engage with. My passion and talent for music would not have reached their heights without the support I received in the group."

Anne Ternes ’17

UMN Morris Symphonic Winds is the primary large instrumental ensemble for wind, brass and percussion players at Morris. Under its conductor Simon Tillier, this auditioned group is made up of some 55 music and non-music majors from throughout the campus. Performances feature a wide variety of works from all musical periods, cultures and styles, emphasizing core and contemporary repertoire. In particular, Symphonic Winds’ cross-discipline approach provides the ensemble with the opportunity to commission and collaborate on works involving literature, theatre, film, and dance.

Symphonic Winds frequently collaborates with composers, guest artists, and faculty soloists, including saxophonist Andy Scott, composer Christopher Marshall, electric guitarist Michael Nicolella, and conductor Milt Allen. In 2018 the ensemble commissioned and premiered States of Matter, a three-movement work by U.K. composer Jenni Watson, inspired by the environment and sustainability—issues very much at the heart of this campus. 

Symphonic Winds tours regionally, nationally and internationally. In 2015 the ensemble traveled to the United Kingdom to give concerts in Manchester, Bristol, and London as part of a Morris Study Abroad Program, and in 2018 it toured the state of Alaska. The ensemble is currently preparing to undertake a regional tour in 2023 and a tour to Ireland and Scotland as its next international venture.

Many students in Symphonic Winds actively play a role in the running of the ensemble through its Student Council. These responsibilities include publicity, fundraising, social events, and logistics. There is also a librarian position.

We hope you will take a moment to explore the various links.

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Jenni Watson

States of Matter-Icemelts for Wind Ensemble (UMM Symphonic Winds 2018 Comission)

James Flegel

Prairie Peace for Solo Guitar and Chamber Winds (UMM Symphonic Winds 2017 Comission)
James Flegel, guitar, Simon Tillier, conductor and Morris Symphonic Winds Players
Flegel Prairie Peace

Christopher Marshall

Burning Blue for Solo Electric Guitar and Large Chamber Ensemble (UMM Symphonic Winds 2015 Comission)
Michael Nicolella, electric guitar, Simon Tillier, conductor and Morris Symphonic Winds players.
Live concert recording

Past Repertiore

Audition Information

Symphonic Winds and Instrumental Chamber Music Auditions

Tuesday, August 22, 2023, 2–5 p.m., in HFA 180

Symphonic Winds and Instrumental Chamber Ensembles are open to all students, regardless of their major. 

UMN Morris has a long tradition of welcoming students from many different musical backgrounds. Players in our ensembles typically have a wide range of abilities and experiences. We aim to accommodate all students and will endeavor to ensure that auditions are informal and friendly.

MUS 1300-001 Symphonic Winds meets Monday and Wednesday, 3:30-5:20 p.m., with additional weekly sectionals scheduled in consultation with the conductor.

Chamber Music Ensembles meet twice a week in consultation with the class instructor.

How to join
  1. Complete the sign-up form to indicate your interest in performing in Symphonic Winds and/or Instrumental Chamber Music.
  2. Sign up for an audition on the bulletin board outside HFA 180. Auditions will be held on Tuesday, August 23, 2–5 p.m., in HFA 180.
  3. All accepted members should be registered for MUS 1300-001 by the first rehearsal.
  4. Students who wish to participate in Instrumental Chamber Music should first audition and will then be given the appropriate permission number to register with.

Symphonic Winds and Instrumental Chamber Music Information Form 2023–24

Who is required to audition?
  • First year or transfer students.
  • Students who have not played in a UMN Morris instrumental ensemble before.
  • Existing students are not required to audition, but should make sure they are registered to ensure their places in the ensemble.
What to perform in your audition

Auditions are informal and provide the opportunity for students to meet the conductor and perform two short pieces of their own choice or from the resource links provided below. Percussionists are invited to demonstrate their playing on whatever instrument(s) they are familiar with. If you are unable to perform on the scheduled audition day sign up for an audition time anyway, and come to meet Simon Tillier.

Students can register for MUS 1300-01 Symphonic Winds at any time, but their places in the ensemble will only be confirmed upon completion of a satisfactory audition. Chamber groups require a permission number from the instructor to register.

Use of school instruments

The Music Discipline maintains a selection of instruments for use by students. This is especially useful for performers of the larger (or more expensive) instruments such as tuba, euphonium, and bassoon. However, it is also a resource to players who relied on school-owned instruments while in high school.

Students who need an instrument for auditions should contact Professor Simon Tillier as soon as possible after having arrived on campus. An instrument will be provided for the audition, and then permanently checked out to those students who participate in an ensemble. (Note: Students who need to use a school instrument are encouraged to sign up for one of the later audition appointments to have as much practice time as possible on their new instrument.)

Audition materials
2023–24 important dates
  • Tuesday, August 22, 2–5 p.m.—Auditions held in HFA 180
  • Monday, August 28, 3:30-5:20 p.m.—First Symphonic Winds rehearsal
  • Friday, September 15 (3:30 p.m.)–Sunday, September 17 (1 p.m.)—Symphonic Winds Retreat (Faith Haven Retreat Center, MN). Guest coaches, sectional and full rehearsals, and social activities.
  • Saturday, November 4 (all day)—Hosting High School Honor Band Day. Guest conductor Dr. Milt Allen. Symphonic Winds Performance.
  • Wednesday, November 29, 7 p.m.—Symphonic Winds Holiday Concert
  • Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m.—Symphonic Winds Concert
  • Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m.—Symphonic Winds Concert
  • May 15–24—Symphonic Winds Tour (details to be announced)

Honors Band Festival 2023

Saturday, November 4, 2023, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


Welcome to the 2023 UMN Morris High School Honor Band Festival taking place here in the Humanities Fine Arts Building of the Morris campus. By popular demand the festival sees the return of special guest conductor Dr. Milt Allen alongside Director of Wind Ensembles at UMN Morris Dr. Simon Tillier. Participants will have the opportunity to work with university instrumental faculty and guest clinicians. The festival will conclude with a short public performance in the Recital Hall featuring the honor bands and UMN Morris Symphonic Winds.

Registration and Cost

The honor band is open to 9th through 12th grade students. Participants can take part by being nominated by their high school band director. Registration/nomination forms will be available on this page at the start of the fall semester. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Simon Tillier at (320-589-6236).

Dr. Milt Allen - Guest Conductor

Dr. Milt Allen

Dr. Milt Allen has worked with hundreds of schools, community groups and organizations, reaching thousands of students, directors, and community members during his career. He is often credited as being one of the most creative, innovative, inspiring, and non-traditional music educators today. Conductor, clinician, speaker, author, and tireless advocate on behalf of music education, his passion for reaching more musicians at a grass-roots level includes extensive experiences in both public schools and universities in addition to founding a non-profit: The Music Guerrilla, which works with underfunded/underserviced programs in Rwanda, Zambia, Haiti and Compton, CA as well as other schools across the United States.

Milt brings a rare perspective to his role. His cross-genre music interests effectively combine with previous teaching positions in rural/suburban, large/small and public/parochial environments to create a truly unique ability to connect to those he serves. His experiences range from teaching beginning instrumentalists in a boiler room to premiering new works at the university level, to working with young African musicians learning to play an instrument. Yet always, from Glasgow, Scotland to Zambia, Africa, and at regional, state, national and international conferences, Milt’s humor, passion, and experience combine to illuminate the possibilities of both music and the live art of performance.

Milt’s articles and insights have appeared in music, parenting and educational magazines as well as various newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He is also the author of Music, Artistry, and Education: A Journey Towards Musical Growth and Enlightenment, published by GIA/Meredith Music Publications/Hal Leonard. Currently, he is recreating and updating his popular “Milt’s Music Minute” information series for parents, students, and directors.

Ensembles under Doc’s direction have received numerous awards at local, state and national levels including recognition by the United States Congress for Musical Excellence. He is a two-time high school Teacher of the Year, a Kansas Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist, and is listed in various Who’s Who publications. Other honors and distinctions include 5 awards from the Ohio State University School of Music recognizing his teaching and service and selection as a Conducting Fellow for the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s 40th Anniversary. In 2008, Dr. Allen became the first civilian in the history of the United States Air Force to tour as a featured conductor (USAF Heritage of America Band) and received an Eastern Illinois University Achievement and Contribution Award. Most recently, he served as the conductor training program guest clinician for the United States Army School of Music in Virginia Beach, VA.

Dr. Allen is an educational artist for Jupiter Instruments, educational consultant for Nuvo Instruments and serves as a clinician for the Hal Leonard Corporation and GIA/Meredith Music Publications.

Simon Tillier, Conductor and Festival Director

Simon Tillier

London-born, Simon Tillier studied clarinet performance under Alan Hacker and Neville Duckworth at the Royal Northern College of Music and conducting privately with Timothy Reynish and Michael Rose. Simon relocated to North America to pursue masters and doctoral studies in conducting and music education with Glenn Price at the University of Calgary, Canada and Rodney Winther at the College-Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, USA.

Simon has been on the faculty at UMM since 2011 and continues to have a varied career that includes conducting, performing, and teaching throughout the U.S.A., Canada, Asia, and Latin America. He has served as guest conductor to the Israeli Youth Wind Orchestra and as artistic director to the Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble. He is a regular guest conductor at events such as the Orquesta Latinoamericana de Vientos in Colombia, South America, and the Hong Kong Youth Music Camp, HKSAR.

Simon’s interdisciplinary approach to performance provides him the opportunity to commission and collaborate on works involving music, word, theatre, and dance. His research into Shakespeare and music is part of a broader area of interest in the renaissance of British wind music in the late twentieth century. Simon currently serves on the editorial committee of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles Quarterly Journal.