Symphonic Winds and Instrumental Chamber Music

Symphonic Winds is the primary large instrumental ensemble for wind, brass, and percussion players at UMN Morris. Open to all students, regardless of their major, Symphonic Winds has a long tradition of welcoming students from various musical backgrounds and experiences. Performances feature works from different musical periods, cultures, and styles, emphasizing core and contemporary repertoire. Symphonic Winds’ cross-discipline approach allows you to collaborate on works involving literature, theatre, film, and dance. This ensemble tours regionally, nationally, and internationally and frequently collaborates with composers, guest artists, and faculty soloists.

Symphonic Winds meets twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, 3:30-5:20 p.m., with additional weekly sectionals scheduled in consultation with the conductor. By participating in Symphonic Winds and Instrumental Chamber Music, you may be able to play an active role in running the ensemble through its student council. Responsibilities include publicity, fundraising, social events, and logistics.

Instrumental chamber music ensembles include Brass Ensemble, Chamber Winds, and a variety of small chamber groups. Chamber music ensembles meet twice a week in consultation with the class instructor. 

To Participate

If you’re interested in participating in Symphonic Winds or a chamber music ensemble, a friendly, informal placement audition is required at the beginning of the semester, during which time you will perform a short music selection of your choice. 

The music discipline maintains a selection of instruments for students to use, especially those larger or more expensive instruments. It’s also a resource for those who relied on school-owned instruments in high school.

Audition Information

High School Honor Band Festival

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High School Honor Band Festival


The 2023 UMN Morris High School Honor Band Festival takes place Saturday, November 4, 2023, from 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., here on campus in the Humanities Fine Arts Building. This year, the festival sees the return of Special Guest Conductor Dr. Milt Allen, alongside UMN Morris Director of Wind Ensembles 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 at 4 p.m. in the Recital Hall, featuring the honor band and UMN Morris Symphonic Winds.

Registration and Cost

Honor Band Festival is open to 9th- through 12th-grade students. The application fee of $30 per student includes the musical services of the conductor and clinicians, lunch on campus, and a certificate of participation. Participants can take part by being nominated by their high school band director.

Nominate a student

Contact Simon Tillier at or 320-589-6236 with questions.


Simon Tillier, Conductor and Festival Director

Simon Tillier, UMN Morris conductor of instrumental ensembles, serves as conductor and festival director.

Milt Allen, Special Guest Conductor

Milt Allen

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 nontraditional music educators today. Conductor, clinician, speaker, author, and tireless advocate on behalf of music education, his passion for reaching more musicians at a grassroots level includes extensive experiences in both public schools and universities, in addition to founding a nonprofit, The Music Guerrilla, which works with underfunded/underserviced programs in Rwanda, Zambia, Haiti, and Compton, California, as well as other schools across the United States.

Allen 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, from Glasgow, Scotland, to Zambia, Africa, and at regional, state, national, and international conferences, Allen’s humor, passion, and experience combine to illuminate the possibilities of both music and the live art of performance.

Allen’s articles and insights have appeared in music, parenting, and educational magazines, as well as various newspapers nationwide. 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 Allen’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 five 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, 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, Virginia.

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

Simon Tillier

Lecturer/Assistant Professor, Music
Discipline Coordinator, Music
Director of Instrumental Ensembles, Chamber Orchestra and Conducting

Recordings and Past Repertoire

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Recordings and Past Repertoire


Jenni Watson

States of Matter—Icemelts for Wind Ensemble (UMN Morris Symphonic Winds, 2018 commission)

Performed by UMN Morris Symphonic Winds.

James Flegel

Prairie Peace for Solo Guitar and Chamber Winds (UMN Morris Symphonic Winds, 2017 commission)

Performed by James Flegel, guitar, Simon Tillier, conductor and UMN Morris Symphonic Winds Players.

Flegel, Prairie Peace

Christopher Marshall

Burning Blue for Solo Electric Guitar and Large Chamber Ensemble (UMN Morris Symphonic Winds, 2015 commission)

Performed by Michael Nicolella, electric guitar, Simon Tillier, conductor, and UMN Morris Symphonic Winds players.

Live concert recording