Mt. Prospect Community Band
In the summer of 1975, a budget shortage threatened to cancel the summer band program at Prospect High School. Knowing that his student musicians would not stay in playing condition without summer practice, High School Band Director, Ralph Wilder, formed a community band. Adult musicians were invited to join the students in summer practice and concerts, the first of which was July 4, 1975.
The next summer, the band became a permanent program of the Mt. Prospect Park District. Later, Wilder left the band for a career as a professional musician, but he returned in 1985 as the Founding Director.
The band performed its first summer of weekly Monday evening concerts in the park starting in 1986. Those seven free concerts now draw audiences numbering up to 1,000. On June 28, 1999 the band held its first Monday night concert in the beautiful Mt. Prospect Veterans Memorial Band Shell, where they continue today.
Twice the Community Band has traveled overseas as musical ambassadors. In July 1997 members visited England. In June of 2004 Band members journeyed to Mt. Prospect's Sister City of Sevres, France. Band members also hosted the choir and orchestra from the Sevres Conservatory of Music.
Since 1994, the Band, Park District and the Mt. Prospect Special Events Commission have cooperated to present an annual "Do-it-yourself" Sousa extravaganza.
On February 1, 2003 the Community Band was recognized for its contributions to Mt. Prospect when Founding Director Ralph Wilder accepted the Toast of the Town Shining Star Award at the annual Mt. Prospect Celestial Celebration.
Ralph Wilder is the founder and conductor of the Mount Prospect Community Band which he started in 1975 while still the Director of Bands at Prospect High School.
Born and raised in Chicago, Ralph received his musical education from Northwestern University where he received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. During his career he has been a full-time educator, teaching band and orchestra at the high school, university, and adult levels. Today, Ralph remains busy as an educator, conductor, arranger, and performer on clarinet, saxophone, and flute. He is presently the instructor of clarinet at North Park University in Chicago and teaches Orchestration, Music Appreciation, and more.
As an educator, Ralph developed and created a program entitled "From Rag to Rap" that provides a wonderful learning experience for children as it takes a musical journey of American popular music, from "Ragtime" of 100 years ago to "Rap" of the present. Sponsored by "Urban Gateways", this show has been highly acclaimed for 15 years.
As a clarinetist, Ralph has performed with many prestigious orchestras and ensembles, including the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago, as well as the orchestras for many ballet companies including the Ruth Page, the Joffrey, the Stuttgart, the Royal Danish, the Bolshoi, the American Ballet Theater, and more. He has performed in the orchestras for many well-known entertainers, Broadway musicals and shows of various styles. He has toured Europe on several occasions as a performer and conductor. Since 1989 he has been a regular member of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and is featured as a clarinet soloist on each of their recordings. A large portion of Ralph's time and energy is devoted to the orchestra that bears his name, the Ralph Wilder Orchestra.
Ralph is grateful to the Mount Prospect Park District for the generous sponsorship of the Community Band since 1976.
Come Play with Us
Now in its 30th year under the sponsorship of the Mt. Prospect Park District, the Community Band invites anyone with experience to join and enjoy making music again. There are no auditions for membership. Music and percussion equipment are provided. We ask only for your time and enthusiasm.
The band rehearses at RecPlex on Mondays from 7:30-9:30pm. Please call 847-640-1000 ext 229 for more information on joining.
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