New Horizons Music Fox Valley History

New Horizons Music Fox Valley


What is New Horizons Music Fox Valley?
Based in Appleton, WI, New Horizons Music Fox Valley (NHMFV) consists of a concert band, string orchestra and smaller band ensemble. Of the five established New Horizons Band programs in Wisconsin, we are the only New Horizons program with a string orchestra. Our geographic marketplace stretches from Oshkosh, WI, to our south and to Green Bay, WI, to our north.

Our parent organization includes a strategic Board of Directors governing our non-profit New Horizons Music Fox Valley, while the New Horizons Band Fox Valley and New Horizons Orchestra Fox Valley have their own leadership teams managing the day-to-day affairs of each musical entity.

Both our band and string orchestra have highly qualified and experienced paid directors and instructors. Since 2004, our music program has instructed hundreds of adults – many of whom now perform with local community bands.

What makes New Horizons Music Fox Valley different from other musical groups?
The NHMFV point of difference from our many local community bands or orchestra is that community musicians are expected to know how to read music proficiently, play skillfully, practice on their own and be well prepared for rehearsal without instruction. Our NHMFV program teaches adults at any level of musical ability without judgement and provides them with a weekly group lesson and rehearsal as a full band or orchestra, along with the opportunity to perform in seasonal concerts and be part of a band or orchestra community – in lieu of only taking private lessons and practicing alone at home.

What are the benefits of participating in New Horizons Music Fox Valley?
Like many other New Horizons programs, some of the benefits we provide our band and orchestra musicians include:
• Friendly, non-threatening group lessons at weekly rehearsals
• Performing in our joint Spring and Fall seasonal concerts and Appleton Flag Day Parade
• Making new friends and having fun playing music together
• Being part of a fantastic music community

What is the New Horizons Music Fox Valley Ensemble?
Our New Horizons Band Ensemble is a smaller group (12-18) of concert band musicians who are current or former participants in the full New Horizons Band Fox Valley. The Ensemble performs primarily at numerous local nursing homes, assisted living centers, and retirement living communities, but performance venues can also include farm markets and special community events. The Ensembe performs seasonally throughout the year, with an emphasis on summer/fall and the November/December holiday season. Non-holiday repertoire includes a variety of movie, film, Broadway and patriotic favorites, along with pop music and polkas. Holiday repertoire includes a variety of seasonal/holiday favorites. As a Wisconsin-based group, our Ensemble, of course, closes each gig with the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’ and our beloved ‘On Wisconsin’ fight song!

How long have the Band and Orchestra been in existence?
Our New Horizons Band and Orchestra programs were originally launched at the Lawrence University (LU) Academy of Music in 2004 and 2005, respectively. In early 2012 the band left the LU Music Academy formed its own non-profit. The New Horizons Orchestra left the academy in 2014 and joined the band. Together, both musical entities formally created New Horizons Music Fox Valley in 2015. Our concert band is celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2024, while our string orchestra will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2025.

How has our adult music education program progressed over 20 years?
After launching and directing our band from September 2004 through May of 2015, we said farewell to our founding band director, Jon Meyer, at the conclusion of our Spring 2015 concert and welcomed our second band director, Bob Kramer at the start of our Fall 2015 session. At the conclusion of our Spring 2022 concert, we bid farewell to Kramer and welcomed our third band director, Jenny Leist, at the start of our Fall 2022 session, who is now in her second year with our band. We have been very fortunate to have wonderful band directors who have each helped our band grow and improve musically during their respective tenures with our program.

Pre-COVID, our New Horizons Music Fox Valley program included over 110 participants – with the band at 50 musicians and orchestra at 60 musicians. As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March of 2020, we canceled our band and orchestra spring sessions due to the COVID outbreak. In the fall of 2020 (with 24 musicians) and again late spring/early summer of 2021 (with 29 musicians), our band rehearsed outdoors at a local park pavilion with a highly modified rehearsal following CDC guidelines, State of Wisconsin Health Dept. guidelines, Wisconsin State laws and guidelines, and the findings and recommendations of the on-going National Performing Arts Aerosol Study in determining protocols for rehearsals. These protocols included employing the four pillars of COVID-related screening questions and temperature checks, social distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene, along with instrument-related hygiene precautions (such bell covers and puppy pads on the floor).

Our NHBFV Ensemble also rehearsed weekly outdoors throughout the summers of 2020 and 2021 at a local park, while our orchestra ultimately resumed their rehearsals outdoors at a local park pavilion the summer of 2021 with 36 vaccinated musicians. In the fall of 2021, the band and orchestra were able to safely resume indoor rehearsals. As of March 2022, our program welcomed back approximately 95 band and orchestra participants.

In May 2022, at our annual spring concert, New Horizons Music Fox Valley had its first fundraising concert raising $1,200 on behalf of our local Habit for Humanity chapter.

Looking Forward…
Both the band and orchestra are thriving as we continue to welcome beginners along with new and returning musicians. As of Spring 2024, the band has enrolled a record 66 musicians, while the orchestra has 54 musicians, totaling 120 musicians. As of April 2024, we resumed our New Horizons Eats monthly lunch gathering at a local restaurant on the Fox River. In the Fall of 2024, we will convene our 8th annual New Horizons Music Fox Valley picnic with great pot-luck food, live music and fun. With the future in mind, we are looking forward to continuing to celebrate our respective 20-year anniversaries in 2024 and 2025.

New Horizons Music Fox Valley (NHMFV) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides affordable music education, training and performance opportunities for adults at any level of musical experience, who desire to play in a community band or orchestra. Adults who wish to play again or learn to play for the first time are invited. All beginners are welcome and no auditions are required.