In the early 1900s, there was a band that played at all university functions. This band was military oriented (ROTC) and was led by students. Each year, a new student became the new director/conductor. This band was called the New Hampshire College Band. At this point, the band was more of a student-run club that it was a credited course as it is now.
In 1923, the band integrated its first faculty director, Professor Richard R. Lamont. Until 1926, the band was solely an outdoor group. In 1926, they became an inside band as well. In this year, Robert W. Manton was the director of this group. The band began its indoor concert season after football season had ended.
In 1929, Lewis Swain, a music faculty member, became the director of the college band. The band room, PCAC M226, at the university, is named for Lewis Swain. Swain was director through WWII.
In 1947, George Reynolds became the director of the band, and during this year, the band was 80 members large. In 1951, the first Sousa Clinic was given on the university campus, and in 1953, the university introduced Dr. David Smith as the new director.
Dr. Smith was director until 1958 when Professor Allan Owen took over. In 1962, Stanley Hettinger became the next director of the band. In 1973, the music department was the biggest it had been since it had started. Professor Hettinger attended a conference and discovered many wonderful ideas for a wind ensemble.. He discovered new pieces of new music that could not be performed with a group over 50 musicians. When Professor Hettinger returned from the conference, he was determined to start a Wind Ensemble.
In the early 1970s, two separate bands were created: the Symphonic Band and the Wind Ensemble. For several years, Professor Hettinger directed both bands until 1976 when Nicholas Orovich took over the Symphonic Band and Professor Hettinger remained director of the Wind Ensemble. There were 50 members of the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band had several more and has continued to grow since then.
Professor Hettinger expected a lot from his students. He required his first chair students to prepare clinics for high school bands. Before the clinics were given, Professor Hettinger insisted on previewing the clinic material. As part of the clinics, the Wind Ensemble had open rehearsals for high school bands to observe. The ensemble also traveled to local high schools to play with their bands.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Wind Ensemble went on several tours. The band toured at high schools for recruiting purposes, and also toured outside the high school atmosphere to allow students to observe the experience of a professional ensemble. The Wind Ensemble toured in Washington, D.C. to play in the rotunda of the Senate Building. Other tours include Ottawa, Canada; Burlington, Vermont; various parts of northern New York; Brown University; and Ohio. The Wind Symphony also played at the Mill Post Center for the Arts as a seasonal event.
The Wind Symphony has also brought in various guest artists such as Jim Croft, Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Florida State University; Don Wilcox, Director of Bands at West Virginia University; Dr. Donald E. McGinnis, Conductor and Director of Bands at Ohio State University; Vaclav Nelhybel, composer from the University of Scranton; Dr. Frederick Fennell, internationally recognized conductor and conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble; and Sigurd Rascher, saxophone performer in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and soloist in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Other guests include Dr. William C. Revelli, Conductor and Director of Bands at the University of Michigan; Dr. John D. Mohler, Associate Professor of Clarinet at the University of Michigan, Dan Bukvich, composer; Toshiyuki Shimada, Music Director and Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra; and composers Timothy Mahr, Mark Camphouse, Joseph Schwantner, and David Maslanka.
The Wind Symphony also has performed at the annual UNH Band Extravaganza since 1999. Two guest conductors have joined them for these occasions: Paul Dickenson and Jack Stamp on November 20, 2000.
In December of 1996, Stanley Hettinger conducted his final concert. Nic Orovich became the director of the Wind Symphony from spring 1997 to fall 1998, while also maintaining the position of director of the Symphonic Band. On April 29, 1998, the Wind Symphony played a concert in dedication to Stanley Hettinger. In the fall of 1998, Dr. Andrew Boysen became the director of the Wind Symphony and continues to hold this position, leaving Orovich to focus his time on continuing his work with the Symphonic Band.
In 2007, the Symphonic Band had grown so large that a need was determined for a third concert band. At this time, the UNH Concert Band was formed under the direction of Director of Athletic Bands Casey Goodwin. The Symphonic Band became an auditioned group: a larger wind ensemble made up primarily of music majors. Demonstrating that this third band was created just in time, the Concert Band broke 90 members in the spring of 2010.