About Us

Community Involvement

The Southwest Community Concert Band is a 501(c)(3) Not-For Profit organization, our mission is to integrate with our community in promoting music awareness and providing musical services.  The following events are some examples our community service and involvement:

  • Assisted Living Facility Holiday Performances
  • Holiday and Summer Concerts & Food Drives (annually collecting over 500 lbs. for local Food Pantries)
  • Summer Park Concerts for local communities
  • Participation in various Orland Park and surrounding community events
  • Annual Winter Band Day for Junior High & Middle School Students
  • Annual Summer Band Camp for 1st year through 9th grade band students
  • Master Classes and Clinics for students and adults
summer band Camp logowinter band Day logo

Mission Statement

Pursuit of Excellence

The mission of the Southwest Community Band is to foster the musical talent and education of its members, provide quality musical entertainment to the community and promote the value of musical education to the students and adults of the community.

We graciously look forward to seeing you this season.

Our Musical Director

Ray Forlenza joined the band in 1988 through an invitation by the conductor at that time, Leo Henning. Ray had been a student of Leo's at St. Laurence High School, and eventually became assistant conductor of the band. When Leo retired, in 2000, Ray was the natural choice to succeed Leo in the leadership of the band.

Ray Forlenza completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music. He is employed as band director for Kirby School District 140, in Tinley Park, and plays regularly with several area bands and cultural groups.

Summer Band CampRay has been instrumental in promoting music education through the Southwest Community Concert Band Outreach Program. In 1996, he was responsible for starting the Annual Band Day. Over the years, this program, held annually in January, has enlightened over 1000 junior high/middle school students. In 2007, again under the leadership of Ray Forlenza, the Southwest Community Concert Band initiated a Summer Band Camp program .


Founded in the fall of 1981, the Southwest Band began under the direction of Milton Potter a local school band director. Mr. Potter took the first 2 years to assemble the band.  In 1983, Neil Dunlap, a Professor at VanderCook College of Music, took over the leadership of the band building on the band's initial membership. Neil focused on honing the band’s musical abilities and performance quality, while encouraging confidence in its members to continue building the band. The band moved to Moraine Valley Community College and soon began its Community Involvement performing outdoor summer concerts for the communities served by the college. Performance options were limited due to sponsorship of the college, so the band moved to Worth Park District.

Leo Henning became the Southwest Band's director in the fall of 1988. His immense popularity helped the band to grow to fifty-plus members. Leo helped organize the band by electing officers, creating a governing board and establishing a set of bylaws. The band became more of a working band, using the money from performances to pay for its operating expenses.

In 1990, the band began an adult festival for community bands known as the Cavalcade of Bands. The band hosted the event for the next 15 years. Under Henning’s guidance, the band elevated the musical talent of its members, while providing a continuing music education resource to the community. The band began developing various performing ensembles.

In 1996, Ray Forlenza began conducting the band as Leo Henning’s assistant.  in 2000, when Leo retired Ray became the bands fourth musical director.

In 2005, Ray was a significant part in our latest move to The First Church of the Nazarene in Lemont. The church offered the band a rehearsal and performance hall, excellent community relations and state of the art sound, video and recording equipment. Under Ray Forlenza’s direction, the band had grown to its highest membership and continues to foster the band musical ability by increasing the caliber of music repertoire thus challenging the musical abilities of the bands membership.

In 1996, Winter Band Day Outreach Program for Young Musicians began. This one-day, non-competitive festival provides students with a unique opportunity to learn then perform new music, challenging their abilities.  In 2006, the band celebrated its 25th Anniversary, Texas composer William Owens was commissioned to write Exaltation which the band premiered in June, under the direction of the composer. The piece made its world debut at the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic.

In 2009, the band updated our library purchasing a new music filing system. Currently we have a library of approximately 1200 musical selections. We have continued promoting the growth of our Outreach programs Summer Band Camp and Winter Band Day. Also in this year, we attracted 87 students to our Winter Band Day event and 57 students to our week-long Summer Band Camp.  Enrollment in both of these programs continue to be well-attended by local junior musicians.
Community Involvement – In 2006, the band began performing a Holiday theme concert that requests non-perishable food items for the price of admission. The band collects more than 500 lbs. of food, which is donated to area food pantries each year.  In 2014, the band also started a Summer Food Drive Concert that spotlighted the local groups Brass Tracks and the Starlighters.  The band started to bring Christmas music to Orland Park retirement homes on Christmas Eve of 2016.  Also in that year, the band participated in Orland Park's Crescent Park Concert series.


In 2012, the Southwest Community celebrated its 30th Concert Season. Illinois composer Timothy Loest was commissioned to write Skyscape which the band premiered at our June 30th Anniversary Concert along with the sons and daughter of our previous conductors (James Potter - Wisconsin, Patrick Henning and Barbara J. Dunlap – Illinois) to guest conduct the band in dedication to their fathers.

In 2013, we started to offer Master Classes for specific insturments.  Our first clinic  was a tuba clinic instructed by Dr. Thomas Bough , Northern Illinois University's Director of Athletic Bands and Yamaha Tuba Artist.  The band's second Master Class was for percussion instructed by Mr. Kevin Lepper, VanderCook School of Music Director and Yamaha Percussion Artist.  In 2015, we hosted a Jazz clinic lead by Dr. Mark O'Connor .  The clinic was a huge success and we anticipate another jazz clinic in 2016.  We'll continue to seek out talented instructors to provide Master Classes and clinics.

The band moved twice since their home at the First Church.  In 2013, the First Church renovated their facility and the facility no longer suites the band's rehearsal and performance needs.   That year, the band found a home at the Eagle Rock church in Homer Glen.  Unfortunately, the Eagle Rock church was sold  late in 2015 and in February of 2016 the band moved to its current home in the Orland Park Cultural Arts Center.  The band continues its mission to bring concert band music to the adults and students of our community. As the band grows in its members and musical talents, so do our various Out Reach Programs, audience and community events.

More information about

More information about

Summer Band Camp logo winter band Day logo