The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble was formed in the fall of 1985 by band directors and other professional musicians dedicated to bringing wind band music of the highest quality to Winnipeg audiences. The ensemble has been a guest on the Prairie Performances concert series and performed at the Winnipeg New Music Festival, International Music Camp Summer Concerts, Optimist International Band Festival, Manitoba Provincial Honour Band Concert, and the Mennonite Schools Festival in addition to the presentation of an annual concert series.
In concert, the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble regularly includes soloists and chamber groups from within its talented ranks. They have also had the pleasure of featuring special guest artists such as trumpet legend Armando Ghitalla, and Rami Oren from the Israel Philharmonic. The Ensemble has performed alongside the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, the University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble, Women of Note, and other Winnipeg groups.
Virginia Helmer has been a music teacher in the Pembina Trails School Division for the past 36 years, working with students from grades 5-9. She has been a member of the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble since 1986, has guest conducted the group on several occasions, and was appointed the Artistic Director in 2020. In 2019 she conducted the Manitoba Provincial Junior Honour Band and has been the music director of the Westwood Community Band since 2017.
Virginia holds a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance from the University of Western Ontario, and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Manitoba. She has participated in conducting workshops with Glenn Price, Craig Kirchoff, and Eugene Corporan, and successfully completed the Canadian wind Conductors Development Program.
As a strong advocate for music education, Virginia has served on the board of the Manitoba Music Educators’ Association as Vice President, President, and currently Past President. She was instrumental in developing proposals for a safe return to singing and wind ensemble playing in Manitoba and continues to lobby for music education provincially and nationally.
WWE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chairperson – Vanessa Nowostawski
Business Manager – François Godére
Secretary – Charmaine Bacon
Personnel Manager – Shannon Little
Librarians – Alena Arnason & Cheryl Ferguson
Treasurer – Justin Fast
Advertising and Promotion Manager – Amanda Forest
Education and Outreach Manager – Bobbie Fast
Development Manager – Matt Abraham
Member at Large (receptions, student concert liaison) – Mariko Boorberg