Local, Park Forest, Schools

Marian Catholic Director of Bands Greg Bimm Announces Retirement

Bimm to Continue as a Consultant and in an Emeritus Role in Advancement

Chicago Heights, IL-(ENEWSPF)- It is with mixed emotions that Marian Catholic High School announces the retirement of Director of Bands Greg Bimm.  Mr. Bimm, who has been a Marian Catholic staff member for 46 years and has led the Marian Catholic Marching Band to seven Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships and 42 state titles in class, will retire at the end of the current school year in June. Mr. Bimm will remain in an emeritus role in the advancement office, as well as serve as a consultant to the band program and write shows. Marian Catholic will post the position for a new band director on the school’s website.

“Greg is a recognized trailblazer in high school and college marching bands, but he will never tell you that,” said Marian Catholic High School President Vince Krydynski, a 1981 graduate of the high school.  “He is the gold standard of what it means to be a gentleman and an educator of supreme dignity and grace. Greg has had a profound impact on nearly five decades of students. It’s always been more than producing beautiful music, mastering complex maneuvers, or winning awards. For Greg, it’s always been about teaching young people to take responsibility for their decisions and to constantly work to be better tomorrow than they are today.”

Bobby Lambert, Director of Bands at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and former Assistant Director of Bands at Marian Catholic, added, “Greg Bimm is not only legendary at Marian, but he is also prolific in the band world. He revolutionized student leadership and student care to a level unseen before. The vast majority of band directors employ systems or standards originated by Greg.”

Greg Bimm – The Rookie Year: 1977

Mr. Bimm joined the Marian Catholic staff in 1977 as the Director of Bands. During his 46 years, the school’s band program grew from 70 students to 300 students at its peak. The band earned a national reputation as one of the premier high school band programs in the United States. Under Mr. Bimm’s leadership, Marian Catholic earned 1st Place in its class at the Illinois State Marching Band Championships every year since 1980. This is an unmatched 42-year winning streak that is unprecedented in any arena. 

Last fall, the marching band received the highest scores in Class 3A in Illinois for Music Performance, Visual Performance, and Effect. The Marian Catholic Marching Band earned the BOA Grand National Championship seven times. It earned BOA Summer National Champion five times. Additionally, the band won the BOA Class AA National Champion crown 23 times in 36 appearances. That’s a record unmatched by any other high school band in the country. There were parades: two Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades and the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. In 2000, the band performed in the Presidential Inauguration Parade. The Marian Catholic Symphonic Band is undefeated since 1981 in the State of the Art Catholic High School Band Contest. The University of Illinois SuperState Concert Band named Marian Honor Band in their class a record 10 times.

“There is no way in just a few words to encapsulate my feelings of 46 years here at Marian. It has been everything and more than I envisioned for my career,” Mr. Bimm said. “Marian has always been so supportive of me, the band, and the arts in general. When you combine that support with intelligent, hardworking, upward-looking students and dedicated parents, you get a real recipe for success and a recipe for a very happy home for a band director!”

“That said, time is inevitable,” Mr. Bimm added.  “After much deep reflection, I know that this is the right time for me to step aside and allow new young talent to ‘run with the ball.’” 

Emeritus Role

Current Assistant Director of Bands Jeremy Turner studied under Mr. Bimm when he was a student at Marian Catholic. He graduated from Marian Catholic in 2009. Mr. Turner said, “You never really stop being a student of Greg Bimm. Even as a colleague and a friend, you never stop learning from him.” When asked about the future of the band program, Mr. Turner commented, “Greg Bimm’s legacy is the lessons taught about empathy, humanity, responsibility, and the relentless pursuit of excellence, lessons all taught through music, dance, and art. Carrying on that legacy will always start with continuing to build good people.”

While retiring as Director of Bands, Mr. Bimm will continue to serve as a consultant for the band program and write shows. Additionally, Mr. Bimm will have a part-time, emeritus position within the advancement office, where he will engage the community and advise on special initiatives.

“The emeritus role allows Marian Catholic to recognize and thank Greg for his 46 years of service and affords him the opportunity to remain connected to the school and the thousands of people he knows through the Marian Catholic Bands,” President Krydynski said. “His willingness to serve as an emeritus is a huge blessing.”

Mr. Lambert added, “Now Greg embarks on another journey to continue helping Marian to thrive while also imparting his knowledge and experience directly to programs across the country. Marian will always feel the influence of this great teacher, as will the profession of music education.”

Marian Catholic is finalizing plans to raise funds to create its first-ever endowed position in Mr. Bimm’s name. The endowment would fund the Director of Bands position. This will demonstrate Marian Catholic’s commitment to the band program and ensure its strength for years to come. Any other plans to recognize Mr. Bimm and the school’s bands will follow at a later date. These events will include alumni and friends of the program.

About Greg Bimm

Greg Bimm
Director of Bands at Marian Catholic High School Greg Bimm announced he is stepping down as band director. (Photo: MCHS)

As a young band director, Mr. Bimm received the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA) Stanbury Award (1983). The prestigious American Bandmasters Association welcomed Mr. Bimm as a member in 1994. The Illinois All-State Band made him the first high school band director in 25 years invited to conduct in 1995. He was among the first recipients of the Mary Hoffman Award of Excellence by the Illinois Music Educators Association (1999).  The John Philip Sousa Foundation awarded him the Sudler Order of Merit in 1991 and 1997. The Music for All Hall of Fame inducted him in 2006, recognizing his significant impact on music education in America. 

In 2006, the National Association for Music Education named him a Lowell Mason Fellow. In 2010, the Archdiocese of Chicago gave him the Distinguished Service Award.  The Illinois State University College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame inducted him in 2010. He was the first active band director to receive the Chicagoland Music Educator John Paynord Lifetime Achievement Award (2013). Mr. Bimm was also the first recipient of the Fine Arts Achievement Award in Marian Catholic’s Hall of Fame.

Mr. Bimm holds degrees from Illinois State and Western Illinois Universities. He received an Honorary Doctorate in Music Education from the Vandercook College of Music. In addition to his role as Director of Bands, Mr. Bimm has performed as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, drill writer, and music arranger throughout the United States and Canada. Professional affiliations include the American Bandmasters Association, the American School Band Directors Association, the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), the National Association for Music Education, the National Catholic Band Association, the National Band Association, Phi Beta Mu, and Phi Mu Alpha. He served on the Illinois High School Association Music Advisory Committee, and served as Band Division chairman, District I, and state equipment manager for ILMEA.