With the November 13 Cathedral Concert, the Band will mark the final season under the leadership of Music Director Raymond C. Wifler. With 43 years at the helm, he is the longest-term director in the Band’s 118 year history.
Dr. Wifler announced his intention to retire after the Fall season at the April Board meeting, and his letter of resignation was accepted “with appreciation and thanks” for his dedicated years of service. He will become Conductor Emeritus upon his retirement. Dale Shipe has been named Music Director as of December 1, with Ray continuing with occasional conducting for as long as he desires.
Wifler assumed leadership of the former Military Band in 1974, some six years after moving to Fond du Lac to teach music at the UW-FdL campus. During more than four decades under Wifler’s leadership, the group evolved from a nearly-defunct summer park band to a respected and multi-faceted arts organization. The Symphonic Band has gained local and regional recognition for its high artistic achievement, attracting quality musicians from a wide radius of FdL and performing a dozen or more times a year in Fond du Lac and area communities, along with numerous music conventions and tours around the state, USA, Canada and abroad. The Band has also developed a myriad of projects and programs that have enhanced the arts scene in Fond du Lac and beyond, including the construction of the Buttermilk Performance Center in 1988, the subsequent summer-long Buttermilk Festival (28 years and thriving), and hosting of performances by numerous U.S. military band and European touring groups.
Wifler was the founding President of the Fond du Lac Arts Council and involved in countless arts-related projects both locally and statewide. He was elected to membership in the Wisconsin Bandmasters and American Bandmasters Associations, and been recipient of numerous community awards.
In recognition of Wifler’s pending retirement, this year’s Buttermilk Festival season was dedicated to him “with gratitude for his dedicated service to the Arts in Fond du Lac and beyond.” Additional events are planned in November, starting with a short program of presentations at the November 13 Cathedral Concert.
On Saturday, Nov. 26, the Band will hold a reception for Dr. Wifler at Maximillian’s in Mt. Calvary from 3 to 7 p.m. The event will feature a casual dinner buffet and a cash bar. Live music will be provided by a combo hand-picked by the Maestro from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Following the entertainment, Steve Peterson will be Master of Ceremonies for a program that will include reflections and reminiscing over Ray’s long musical career. The reception is open to the public, and current and former band members are especially encouraged to attend. Tickets for the general public are $20 per person, and may be purchased at Mike’s Music, ordered online at www.fdlsymphonicband.com or by sending your check to:
c/o FdL Symphonic Band
P. O. Box 1483,
Fond du Lac WI 54936.