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Our Beginnings
In  the mid-1980’s, several events occurred in Licking County which provided the right circumstances for the formation of a community band. The adult bands that had been in the area were no longer playing and the right number of good players on the right instruments were present. J M Day and Don Workman,  two band directors in the Newark City Schools, met for lunch once a week and among other things, discussed music, musicians, and how much fun it would be to be able to again perform quality band literature. They drafted a letter on New Year’s Day, 1985, inviting twenty-five musicians to a rehearsal on January 21st of that year in the Newark High School Band room. Although not yet so named, the Heisey Wind Ensemble was born.

Why Heisey? Aside from the earthworks built by the Hopewell tribe circa 100 BC, Newark is best noted for the high quality glassware produced by the Heisey Glassworks from 1895 to 1957. Since the name Heisey represented quality in the area and the goal of the new organization was quality performance on quality music, the Heisey Wind Ensemble seemed an appropriate name.

On June 10, 1985 the Heisey Wind Ensemble performed its first concert at Founders’ Hall on the OSU-Newark campus featuring compositions by Goldman, Strauss, Copland, Bernstein and Fillmore. Twenty-five musicians filled the stage, and several of those are still performing with the ensemble. 

George Hunter, an original member of the ensemble, was a member of the music faculty at Denison University and director of the Denison Concert Band for 32 years. One year after his retirement, concert band was no longer offered at Denison and George made arrangements for the Heisey Wind Ensemble to rehearse and perform there. It was a collaboration that served both organizations well for 23 years.

In 2009, HWE relocated to The Ohio State University – Newark branch, rehearsing and performing in The Alford Performing Arts Hall at The John Gilbert Reese Center. 

The Heisey Wind Ensemble has grown in membership and in the quality of its performances. The concert season has increased from two concerts per year to four, the number of performers on stage has increased from 25 to 55, and we have been able to introduce our audiences to soloists of international renown.

HWE was asked to perform for the first July 3rd celebration at the OSUN/COTC Reese Amphitheater and continues to perform for this event. The group has been selected twice, in 2001 and 2004, to perform at the Ohio Music Educators’ Association Professional Conference.  We have performed twice for the Ohio Chapter of the American School Band Directors’ Association, as well. 

The Heisey Wind Ensemble has been fortunate to have had the musical leadership of four outstanding conductors: Richard Lon Cass, Robert Neumann, Richard Blatti, and Russel Mikkelson. Their leadership has enabled the group to continue to grow, develop, and achieve musical performances that sometimes surprised even the players themselves. (Please see information about each conductor elsewhere on our website.)

So to Mr. Day and Mr. Workman, thanks for having lunch all those times and for putting your ideas into action. You have made Licking County a much better place to live.

Our First Concert
The HWE gave their premiere concert on June 10, 1985 at Founders Hall on the campus of OSU-Newark. Under the direction of Lon Cass, the 25 member ensemble performed the following selections:
    On The Mall
    Variations On A Shaker Melody
    Irish Tune from County Dairy
    Amparito Roca
    The Circus Bee
    Blue Bells of Scotland (Doug Moran, soloist)
    Overture to Candide
    Bugler’s Holiday
    Man of La Mancha
    America, The Beautiful