Northern Festival of Bands

Northern Festival of Bands 2020

The Northern Festival of Bands is an annual weekend wind band festival for high school band students, who perform in bands led by nationally renown conductors, participate in masterclasses and workshops with UNI faculty and students, and experience performances given by UNI's outstanding ensembles. 

This year the festival will be held February 13-15, 2020. The festival features performances by the UNI Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band on Friday evening, as well as Saturday afternoon’s performance by high school participants featuring solo competition winners, percussion groups, and the Festival Bands.

High school performers are divided into three bands: Wind Orchestra, Symphony Band, and Concert Band. The Wind Orchestra consists primarily of All-State Band members, the Symphony Band is comprised of some All-State students and older students usually in 11-12th grade, and the Concert Band is typically younger students in 9-10th grade. However, there will be some crossover due to the need to create an instrumentation for three outstanding ensembles.

2020 Guest Conductors and Festival Ensembles

Wind Orchestra - Michele Michalopoulos, Corfu, Greece 
Symphony Band - Gary Smith, University of Illinois
Concert Band - Leon Kuehner, Iowa Alliance for Arts Education
Festival Percussion Ensemble - Kramer Milan and Matt Andreini, conductors

University of Northern Iowa Ensembles

Wind Ensemble - Danny Galyen, conductor
Symphonic Band - Justin Mertz, conductor
Chamber and Faculty Ensembles  

The Application Process

The Northern Festival of Bands offers three festival bands: the Wind Orchestra, Symphony Band, and Concert Band. The Percussion Ensemble is selected from the three festival bands. Students are selected on the basis of the application forms submitted by each school and director. In recent years, we have received over 400 applications with approximately 100 selected for each band. 

We request that each school submit at least two names for consideration.

Applications should be made by the school band director. In some cases an individual student may wish to attend even if their school is not attending. In these cases the application must still be made by the high school band director or by the student with the high school band director's oversight. This is to ensure that participating students are members of their school band and have the permission of the director and school prior to attending. In the event that the director does not attend the festival, an adult chaperone must attend with the student due to the overnight nature of the festival.

Applications will be submitted via our website. Applications should be completed by Monday, December 2, 2019 at 5:00 p.m.

Application Instructions 

There are two steps for the application process:

1. Download and complete the NFB Student Nomination Form

2. Then visit the School Registration Form to provide school and director information and to attach the completed Nomination Form.

Prior to completing the Nomination Form, we ask that directors ensure that students are aware of festival dates and are committed to these dates in the event they are selected. Students are expected to attend the entire festival, since it is impossible to create an artistic performing experience in such a limited time without complete attendance.


Students accepted for either of the festival bands will audition for chair placement between 4:00 pm and 6:45 pm on Thursday afternoon, February 13.  In order to complete these auditions in time for the rehearsal and to accommodate those driving long distances, we will use the following audition schedule:

4:00-5:00 pm – Schools within a 50 mile radius of UNI
5:00-6:00 pm – Schools within a 100 mile radius of UNI
6:00-6:45 pm – Schools outside a 100 mile radius of UNI

Audition material will be sent with the notification of selection.

Concert Dress

Performance dress will be the attire normally worn by each school for performances. 

Solo Competition

Senior students accepted to the festival who wish to study music at UNI are welcome to audition for the Solo Competition.  The winner will perform at the final festival concert on Saturday afternoon and receive and an offer of a music scholarship not to exceed $6000.00 over a four year period. The award is limited to students who wish to pursue a music degree at the University of Northern Iowa.

There is a place on the nomination form to indicate students wishing to audition for the Solo Competition.
The UNI School of Music will provide an accompanist for the audition and the performance on Saturday. Each student is responsible for providing the piano accompaniment music.

Festival Fees

Students - $35.00 per student
Conductors - $30.00

The fees include a Saturday banquet meal, festival music, conductor fees, and other event costs.


The complete schedule will be available at Registration on your arrival. Currently, the following time frames are in place:

2020 NFB Schedule

Thursday, February 13
4:00-6:30 pm Auditions
7:00-9:00 pm Rehearsal I

Friday, February 14
8:30-12:00 noon Rehearsals and Concerts
1:30-4:00 pm Rehearsals and Concerts
6:00 Rehearsals
7:30 Concert - UNI Wind Ensemble & Symphonic Band

Saturday, February 15
9:00-11:00 Rehearsals and Concerts
12:00 noon Festival Banquet
2:00 pm Final Festival Concert

If you need further information, please contact Danny Galyen at