About the Ensemble

Rod Williams and David Conrad were driving back from a jazz band gig on August 14, 2004. Rod casually mentioned that "wouldn't it be nice" to have a serious concert band that met during the winter and spring. Assemble professional quality musicians, choose outstanding literature, and aim for high musicianship.

That conversation led these leaders, along with Rod's wife, Sue, to form the River Valley Wind Ensemble.

These three educators had a lot in common. They all studied music education at the University of Illinois, one of the top band schools in the nation. That's where Rod, a trumpet player, met his wife, Sue, a horn player. Later, in 1984, Sue met a young fifth-grade student named David Conrad who joined her beginning band at Bradley Elementary School.

Their objective was to recruit professional wind and percussion musicians to perform challenging wind ensemble literature. They wanted the group to serve as both a creative outlet for the musicians as well as an educational and cultural force in the community. They would make Kankakee County (Illinois) their home, attracting the best musicians from throughout the region.

Within a month -- using their contacts in the music world -- they had attracted thirty-seven musicians, each one of a highly- professional caliber. Most had studied music in college -- and many have pursued professional careers in music. They are the top-chair performers in many area groups, including the New Horizons Band, Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, Swing Kings, R.A. Brass, GRT Big Band, and the Kankakee Municipal Band.

The group typically rehearses on alternating Thursdays at Liberty Intermediate School, in Bourbonnais. The group only meets during the fall and spring as to avoid conflicts with summer vacations and other established music organizations.