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Dr. John P. Paynter, Former Conductor and Music Director (1956-1996)
Founder of Northshore Concert Band
The NCB was founded in 1956 and led for 40 years by the late John P. Paynter, who was the director of bands at Northwestern University, an accomplished arranger, and president of many band organizations, including the American Bandmasters Association. Mr. Paynter built what started as an 11-member, rather informal group into one of the most influential and respected symphonic bands in the world today.
Paynter was born in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he received his early training in music He entered Northwestern University in 1946 and earned BM and MM degrees in theory and composition in 1950 and 1951, serving as Acting Director of Bands in 1950-1951 while working towards his Masters degree. At age 23, he was appointed to the full-time faculty and became Director of the Marching Band, Assistant Director of Bands, and Instructor of Theory. Two years later, he succeeded Glenn Cliffe Bainum as Director of Bands, becoming the second person ever to hold this post at Northwestern Unlversity.
In 1956, at the age of 28, he became the conductor of the newly-formed Northshore Concert Band. Under his leadership, this ensemble developed into the role model for community bands nationally and worldwide. With members who have been in the band over thirty years as well as recent college graduates, NCB is a fine example of the idea, championed by Paynter, that music making should play a role in the lives of people of all ages and professions.
Paynter served as president of such organizations as the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, American Bandmasters Association, and the National Band Association, of which he was a co-founder and Honorary Life President. He was a Life Member of the Music Educators National Conference and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He was also revered as a composer and arranger with more than 400 works to his credit. His role as a lecturer and guest conductor took him to 47 of the 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Japan, and South America.
He received awards from such distinguished societies as Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Eta Sigma, Tri-M Modern Music Masters, Phi Beta Mu, Kappa Kappa Psi, Illinois Music Educators, John Philip Sousa Foundation, the National Band Association, the School Musician, the Instrumentalist, and the National Association of Music Clubs. In August 1987, he was selected as one of the inaugural recipients of the Northwestern University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award. On June 13, 1992, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from DePaul University in Chicago.
He was a man of limitless knowledge and ability. His sense of humor and warmth brightened many a rehearsal and meeting, and his musicianship, leadership, and friendship positively impacted the lives of thousands and thousands of people. It is with the greatest affection, pride, and gratitude that he is remembered by the fortunate people who knew him.