Our History

The Tri-State Wind Symphony was founded in 1995 as a community band for "the better amateur players in the community" comprised of Dubuque-area musicians who volunteer their time; the ensemble performs at the Eagle Point Park band shell every summer.

Our conductor and founder: Brian Hughes

The winner of both the 2015 and 2016 American Prize in Band Conducting and lauded by Iowa Public Radio as a “major figure in Iowa arts,” Brian Hughes is an active conductor at home and abroad. Following his European debut with the Northern Iowa Chamber Winds in Eger, Hungary (1993), he has led ensembles in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Russia. In 1995 he founded the Tri-State Wind Symphony (Dubuque) and has led it through twenty-one seasons of substantive growth. Brian also leads the Bettendorf Park Band.

In 1994, only a year after moving to Dubuque, he was offered the music directorship of Dubuque Youth Symphony. In recognition of the quantitative and qualitative growth of the DYS, Maestro Nicholas appointed him the first-ever Assistant Conductor of the Dubuque Symphony in 1996. He has also appeared several times with the Dubuque Community String Orchestra and has led orchestras, choirs, and wind groups in clinic, concert, and festival appearances in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Brian has held secondary school positions as a wind, choral and string educator in Iowa and Illinois. For 15 years he was Director of Instrumental Music at Loras College (Dubuque) serving seven years as department chair and another six heading up the institution’s Arts and Lecture Series. He formerly served as a graduate associate conductor, staff conductor, and associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he led the University Symphony, Chamber Orchestra, Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and University Band.

He has degrees in music education and conducting from Olivet College (MI), the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his dissertation was “Alberto Ginastera: Variaciones Concertantes-- A Conductor’s Study”.

Brian has won conducting prizes from the Hradec Kralove (CZ) Philharmonic and the West Bohemian Philharmonic. He is a two-time winner of the Richard and Agatha Church Conducting Prize, presented by UW-Madison. In recognition of his "outstanding contribution to the arts," he was presented the 2005 Elisha Darlin Award, given by the Dubuque County Fine Arts Society.

Brian lives in Dubuque with his precocious teenage daughter, Caitlyn. When not on the podium, Hughes can be found in various coffee shops or in his own kitchen—glass in hand-- with his favorite utensil: his wok.

to join us:

If you are interested in joining the TSWS, please contact Brian Hughes. All musicians are welcome! No auditions are necessary; simply show up with your instrument and a willingness to play.

See the List of Current Administration