Mike Fansler is Director of Bands and conductor of the wind ensemble and chamber winds at Western Illinois University, where he also leads the graduate wind conducting program and teaches undergraduate music education courses. He joined the faculty in 2001 and is currently Professor of Music.
Under his leadership, the Western Illinois Wind Ensemble has maintained an active performance schedule on campus while engaging audiences on tour at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference (2009/2015), Rio de Janeiro/Salvador, Brazil (2010), the prestigious Armour Stage in Chicago's Orchestra Hall (2006/2009) and the College Band Directors National Association's North Central Conference (2008). Together, Fansler and the wind ensemble have released five albums: IV Maslanka's fourth symphony (2012), Words of Love (2010), The Promise of Living (2008), Till Eulenspiegel (2007), and Live in Chicago (2006).
Fansler has conducted in Australia, South America, Europe, and throughout the United States, where has made guest adjudicating and conducting appearances with numerous high school and honor bands. He has lectured on the music of Percy Grainger at the Midwest Clinic and later received a grant to visit the Grainger Museum in Melbourne to further study his music and life. During a sabbatical in 2012, Fansler presented saxophone masterclasses at the Universidade Federale de Bahia, and lectured at the Colégio Militar de Salvador, and the Universidade Católica de Salvador in Brazil.
He has previously held similar teaching positions at Idaho State University, Mars Hill University (NC), and Sullivan East High School (TN). His main musical influences are James F. Keene, Daniel Schmidt, Larry Clark, Ronald Caravan, Gunnar Mossblad, Merry FitzRandolph, and William Meckley. His education is from Schenectady County Community College, James Madison University, Syracuse University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
His professional memberships include the prestigious American Bandmasters Association (2012), College Band Directors National Association, National Association for Music Education, Illinois Music Educators Association, Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He resides in Avon IL with his wife Abby and three kids, Jordan, Jessie, and Juliet.
Lukas Foss (1922-2009) German-born American composer of primarily stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world; he was also active as a conductor. He started piano and theory studies with Julius Goldstein-Herford at an early age and began composing at age seven. After studies in composition in Paris from 1933-37, he studied composition with Rosario Scalero at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1937-39. He was awarded more than 20 honorary doctorates. Though initially active as pianist, he was also know as a conductor, with a focus on new music. He conducted the Improvisation Chamber Ensemble from 1957-62, a quartet devoted to unnotated music, which he founded. He taught as Professor of Composition at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1953-62 and later taught at Tanglewood. He served as composer-in-residence at Carnegie-Mellon University, Harvard University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Yale University, and held the position at Boston University from 1990-2005.