Northern Festival of Bands

Northern Festival of Bands 2025 will be held February 13-15. 

Check back for 2025 details soon. Information from 2024 is below for reference.  

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

The 2024 festival is January 25-27, 2024. 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.

2024 Guest Conductors and Festival Ensembles

Composer-in-Residence: Grace Baugher Dunlap
Wind Orchestra - Ferenc Szabó, Gyor, Hungary
Symphony Band - Laura A. Goucher, Mahtomedi, MN
Concert Band - Leon Kuehner, Iowa Alliance for Arts Education
Festival Percussion Ensemble - Matt Andreini and Josh Graham, 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 comprised of all percussionists from the three festival bands). Students are selected on the basis of the application forms submitted by each school and director. In 2023, we have received around 560 applications with approximately 80-100 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 and permission. 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 should 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, November 6, 2023 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. We would appreciate it if students agree to hold these dates so they can attend the entire event - rather than completing the process of being selected and then telling us of conflicts and expecting accommodations. 


Accepted students will audition for chair placement by submitting a short audition video. Students are encouraged to use a phone or tablet to record their audition and can upload the video directly from their device. Audition videos will be due by Thursday, January 11, 2024.

Audition materials and instructions will be sent with the notification of selection.

This process should be easy to complete for each student and is not designed to be a major undertaking.

Students will then be notified of their chair placement and music for their exact part will be provided.

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 - $34.00 per student


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

2024 NFB Schedule

Thursday, January 25
6:00pm Meeting for all students and directors
6:30-7:45pm Rehearsal 
8:00-9:00pm Rehearsal
9:00pm Ice Cream Social

Friday, January 26
8:30am-12:00pm Rehearsals and Concerts
1:30-4:00pm Rehearsals and Concerts
6:00pm Rehearsals
7:30pm Concert - UNI Wind Ensemble & Symphonic Band

Saturday, January 27
9:00-11:00am Rehearsals and Concerts
1:30pm Final Warm-Up
2:00pm Final Festival Concert

If you need further information, please contact Danny Galyen at