The Southwest Community Concert Bands mission includes service to the community. This is accomplished in many ways, which include the following events:
- Assisted Living Facility Holiday Performances
- Holiday Concert & Food Drive (annually collecting over 500lbs of food for Lemont Food Pantries)
- Summer Park Concerts for local communities
- Participation in various Lemont and surrounding community events
- Annual Winter Band Day for Junior High & Middle School Students
- Annual Summer Band Camp for 1st year through 9th grade band students
Pursuit of Excellence
The mission of the Southwest Community Band is to foster the musical talent and education of its members, provide quality musical entertainment to the Community and promote the value of musical education to the students and adults of the community.
We graciously look forward to seeing you this season.
Ray Forlenza joined the band in 1988 through and invitation by the conductor at that time, Leo Henning. Forlenza had been a student of Henning at St. Laurence High School, and eventually became assistant conductor of the band. When Henning retired, in 2000, Forlenza was the natural choice to succeed in the leadership of the band.
Forlenza completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music. He is employed as band director for Kirby School District 140, in Tinley Park, and plays regularly with several area bands and cultural groups.
Forlenza has been instrumental in promoting music education through the Southwest Community Concert Band Outreach Program. In 1996, he was responsible for startingthe Annual Band Day and Summer Band Camp events. Over the years, this program, held annually in January, has enlightened over 1000 junior high/middle school students. In 2007, under the leadership of Forlenza, the Southwest Community Concert Band Summer Band Camp was initiated.
Founded in the fall of 1981, the Southwest Band began under the direction of Milton Potter a local school band director. Mr. Potter took the first 2 years to assemble the band and in1983, Neil Dunlap, a Professor at VanderCook College of Music, took over the leadership of the band building on the bands initial membership. Neil focused on honing the band’s musical abilities and performance quality, while encouraging confidence in its members to continue building the band. The band soon moved to Moraine Valley Community College. The band soon began its Community Involvement performing outdoor summer concerts for the communities served by the college. Performance options were limited due to sponsorship of the college, so the band moved to Worth Park District.
Leo Henning became the Southwest Bands director in the fall of 1988. His immense popularity helped the band to grow to fifty plus members. Leo helped organize the band by electing officers, creating a governing board and establishing a set of bylaws. The band became more of a working band, using the money from performances to pay for it’s operating expenses.
In 1990, the band began an adult festival the Cavalcade of Bands for community bands. The band hosted the event for the next 15 years. Under Henning’s guidance, the band expanded the musical talent of its members, while providing a continuing music education resource to the community. The band began developing various performing ensembles.
In 1996 Ray Forlenza, began conducting the band as Leo Henning’s assistant and in 2000 when Leo retired Ray became the bands fourth musical director. In 2005 Ray was a significant part in our latest move to The First Church of the Nazarene in Lemont. The church offers the band a rehearsal and performance hall, excellent community relations and state of the art sound, video and recording equipment. Under Ray Forlenza’s direction the band has grown to its highest membership and continues to foster the band musical ability by increasing the caliber of music repertoire thus challenging the musical abilities of the bands membership.
In 1996 Winter Band Day Outreach Program for Young Musicians began. This one-day, non-competitive festival provides students with a unique opportunity to learn then perform new music, challenging their abilities.
In 2006 the band celebrated its 25th Anniversary, Texas composer William Owens was commissioned to write Exaltation which the band premiered in June, under the direction of the composer. The piece made its world debut at the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic.
In 2009 the band updated our library purchasing a new music filing system. Currently we have a library of approximately 1200 musical selections. We continued promoting the growth of our Outreach programs Summer Band Camp and Winter Band Day. In 2009 we attracted 87 students to our Winter Band Day event and 57 students to our week long Summer Band Camp
Community Involvement – In 2006 the band began performing a Holiday theme concert that requests non-perishable food items for the price of admission. The band collects more than 500 pounds of food, which is donated to Lemont food pantries each year.
In 2007 the band began a Summer Band Camp Outreach Program for Young Musicians. The weeklong event was started as an extension of the Band’s Outreach Programs for young musicians. The first year we attracted more than 30 students.
In 2011 the band continued promoting the growth of our Outreach programs Winter Band Day and the weeklong Summer Band Camp.
In 2012 the Southwest Community celebrated its 30th Concert Season. Illinois composer Timothy Loest was commissioned to write Skyscape which the band premiered at our June 30th Anniversary Concert along with the sons and daughter of our previous conductors (James Potter - Wisconsin, Patrick Henning and Barbara J. Dunlap – Illinois) to guest conduct the band in dedication to their fathers. The band continues its mission to bring concert band music to the Adults and students of our community. As the band grows in its members and musical talent so does our various Out Reach Programs, audience and community events.