The Orillia Wind Ensemble was formed in 1986 originally as the Orillia Concert Band. At the time, newly retired music teacher Bob Plunkett was invited to conduct the band. Under his leadership, the band began presenting programs in 1987 that have become an important part of the musical life of Orillia and surrounding areas, establishing a reputation for high musical standards.
Upon Plunkett’s retirement in 1997, Roy Menagh became the conductor and continued to develop the level of musicianship and establish the series concept of concerts the ensemble now presents. The name of the group was changed to Orillia Wind Ensemble when Roy took over to reflect the new direction of the band program.
Throughout his tenure with the OWE, Roy contributed to community musical life in Orillia. Roy has prepared concerts with many professional performers, including composer and conductor Howard Cable, conductor Gino Falconi, clarinettist Peter Stoll, French horn player Joan Watson, trombonist Alistair Kay and local jazz performer, Lance Anderson. Collaborations with the King Edward Choir and the Lyrica Choir from Barrie have been highly successful. Commissions by John Palmer and Bruce Sutherland were also performed under Roy’s musical direction.
In 2016 we honured Roy Menagh’s retirement from the OWE, but not from music. He continues to be the music director for the Orillia Vocal Ensemble which he founded in 2012, and he continues to be an integral member of OPAF – Orillia Performing Arts Forum.
2016 also brought us James Hilts, our new music director. James is the music teacher at Patrick Fogarty High School and he comes to us as an award winning conductor. We look forward to the energy and direction he will bring! In the fall of 2016, we re-named ourselves, the Orillia Concert Band.