UNI band director takes national stage



After an extensive interview and nomination process, UNI Wind Ensemble Director Danny Galyen has been inducted into the American Bandmasters Association, a national premier society for conducting and musicians.

By this time next year, the director of the UNI Wind Ensemble will have been officially inaugurated into a lifetime position with the nationally-based American Bandmasters Association. Danny Galyen has served with the University of Northern Iowa bands since 2007 and has built a reputation as an engaging and dynamic conductor and educator.

The American Bandmasters Association is a premier society for conductors and exemplary musicians. The association was founded in 1929, and its goals include promoting concert bands and concert band music. In our interview, Galyen expanded on the association’s specifics.

[Danny Galyen] has built a culture of excellence that ripples throughout the entire music school from his direction of the Wind Ensemble.

— Reed Andrews, UNI Wind Ensemble Student

“The organization recognizes outstanding achievement on the part of concert band conductors and composers. The current membership comprises approximately 300 band conductors and composers in the USA and Canada,” he said.  “Membership is by invitation only to conductors who are considered to be exemplary professionals in the field of wind band music.” 

Galyen underwent a rigorous interview and nomination process to be accepted into this position. To begin the nomination process, a director must be nominated by two current association members. Galyen also said that during his interview, he had to submit over 70 minutes of recordings of his band,the UNI Wind Ensemble, for the committee to evaluate his musical skill and conducting ability.

Danny Galyen is the current director of the UNI Wind Ensemble. In order to continue his interview process to the American Bandmasters Association, he submitted over 70 minutes of recordings of the ensemble for evaluation.

Galyen’s other work at UNI includes teaching undergraduate courses on conducting, wind literature and music education, as well as past leadership within the Panther Marching Band. Under his administration, the marching band grew from only 150 members to over 330 within a few years. According to his School of Music biography, “Dr. Galyen is a frequent guest conductor and has recently led performances of the Wind Orchestra of the State Conservatory of Music in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the L’Orchestra d’Harmonie du Conservatoire d’Aulnay sous Bois in Paris, France. He has conducted, taught, and adjudicated in Luxembourg, Belgium, Uzbekistan, Ireland, Italy, France, and England and has studied in Holland, Switzerland, and Ireland.”

School of Music students heap enormous praise on Galyen regarding this recent honor. Member of the Wind Ensemble Aubrey Williamson, a flute player, wrote, “I have had Dr. Galyen as my conducting professor this year. Studying under him in a classroom setting other than ensemble rehearsals is an inspiring experience.” 

Galyen has played a big role in the lives of his students. Aubrey Williamson, second from left, commended his devotion to building community.

Regarding Director Galyen’s promotion of work ethics, Williamson said, “The students in Wind Ensemble love Dr. Galyen because he holds our ensemble to a high standard of musicianship but makes rehearsals fun. Our two-hour rehearsals can be tiring some weeks, but the challenging, engaging literature he selects for our ensemble makes the time fly by.”

Another member of the Wind Ensemble, Reed Andrews, also reflected Williamson’s commendatory view of Director Galyen. “He is entirely respectful of everyone and one of the kindest people on this campus. Dr. Galyen knows when and how to push us to get the best music to come out in a healthy and fun way. He has built a culture of excellence that ripples throughout the entire music school from his direction of the Wind Ensemble,” Andrews said.

Building a solid community is essential for any organization, musical or not. “Dr. Galyen is very committed to programming works by under-represented groups of composers, such as women, composers of color, and pieces that in general haven’t received much spotlight and deserve to be performed,” Williamson wrote regarding Director Galyen’s strong relationship and community-building expertise.  “The analogies he uses when teaching are very humorous and create a light, fun environment, and work well to help students understand how to play music better. Our students also love Dr. Galyen for the community he cultivates in the ensemble.”

Regarding his newfound responsibilities within the American Bandmasters Association, Galyen said, “I will be expected to attend their annual conference and to serve on certain committees that promote the organization’s goals.” 

Galyen expressed optimism regarding this upcoming and reputable opportunity. “I am excited to be able to connect regularly with the top wind conductors in North America. I have always admired the ABA and look forward to being part of such a prestigious group,” he said.

While the Wind Ensemble is done for the semester with public performance, they have been invited as the only band to perform at the annual Iowa Bandmasters Meeting this May in Des Moines. Nevertheless, the Wind Ensemble looks forward to another productive year in 2023-2024 to further contribute to the University of Northern Iowa’s already robust arts and musical climate.

Director Galyen will be officially inaugurated at a Washington, D.C., ceremony next March 2024. At this ceremony, Director Galyen will be honored with the distinction of being able to conduct one of the nation’s most prestigious military bands. This prestigious honor only builds on Galyen’s accomplished reputation, as well as enhances the already robust status of the University of Northern Iowa’s School of Music.