For the first time in the program’s history, the Winona State University Wind Ensemble has been selected to perform at the Minnesota Music Educators Association state conference on Feb. 16, 2024, in Minneapolis.

Only two or three university bands statewide are invited to perform at the annual conference.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for our band program, department, university, and state school system to get some visibility statewide,” said Dr. Melanie Brooks Dinh, Director of Bands at Winona State.

The band’s concert features new music commissioned for the Winona State University Band program. In fact, six out of the seven pieces on the program were written for and/or premiered by the WSU Wind Ensemble over the past six years.

According to Winona State student and band member Cheryl Smith, performing with the band is an opportunity to share her passion for music with those around her.

“This performance will be rewarding because we have worked hard on some difficult pieces, and we get to showcase the talent of a variety of different composers who have been so generous in writing music for WSU to premiere,” said Smith.

All five of those composers will be attending the performance as guests, coming from as far away as Los Angeles and Tampere, Finland. Their names are Hanna-Mari Lehtonen, Derek Brown, Am’re Ford, Stephen Mitton, and Spencer Brand.

“Playing for an event like this takes a lot of stamina, dedication, and trust,” said Smith. “This experience will be a part of my music legacy that I hope to look back on with fond memories of growth and learning.”

For more information on the Winona State Music Department and Performing Ensembles, visit