History of the Knightwind Ensemble

The Knightwind Ensemble has been performing for Milwaukee (WI) audiences for over six decades. Beginning in 1956 as a youth activity sponsored by the Milwaukee Elks Lodge No. 46, the group has evolved into Milwaukee's premier adult wind band. Presenting substantive and challenging programs, the Knightwind Ensemble continually strives to bring high quality concert experiences to its audiences.


The Ensemble has commissioned two significant works. Imprints was given its world premiere in 1989. Another work was commissioned with other groups, David Maslanka's powerful musical statement Tears.

Over the years Knightwind has also featured wonderful local solo artists, including Ann Lobotzke - Harp, Dr. Barry Benjamin - French Horn, and the Newberry Brass Quintet.  In addition, the Ensemble has hosted nationally respected artists including conductors Dr. Mallory Thompson and Dr. Todd Fiegel, euphonium virtuoso Luis Maldonado, trombonist Dr. William Richardson,  Dr. Patrick Sheridan, former principal tubist with the U.S. Marine Corps Band, and more recently Kathryn Mantoan, soprano.

In 2005, the John Phillip Sousa Foundation recognized the Knightwind Ensemble as one of the nations best community bands when it awarded the Sudler Silver Scroll to the Ensemble. The goal of the award is "to identify, recognize and honor those community bands that have demonstrated particularly high standards of excellence in concert activities over a period of several years, and which have played a significant and leading role in the cultural and musical environment in their respective communities".

In 2006, the Ensemble celebrated 50 years as a community organization. It is truly amazing that in the 50 year history, the organization has known only five musical directors in this order: George Zoske, Jim Walker, Wayne Becker, John Steinke, and Dr. Erik Janners. 

The Knightwind Ensemble, comprised of about 60 musicians representing a variety of backgrounds, continues to play a diverse musical repertoire, ranging from classic chamber pieces to contemporary full wind band literature. Our concert season is from fall to spring, with time off in the summer.