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The conductors

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Founder - Dennis Zeisler

DENNIS J. ZEISLER (1947 – 2020) was on the faculty of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia for almost four decades, serving as Director of Bands, Professor of Clarinet and Saxophone, and Chairman of the Music Department. 


Under his direction, the Old Dominion University Wind Ensemble developed into a premier performing ensemble. They recorded for TRN Music Publishers and Frank Erickson Publications. Under Zeisler’s baton, the ODU Wind Ensemble was featured in concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. While serving as former Chair for fifteen years, he led the steady growth of the Old Dominion University Music Department at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


The Virginia Wind Symphony has been in partnership with Old Dominion University since Zeisler founded the ensemble in 1994.  Dennis Zeisler was the musical director from 1994-2020.  Dennis passed away on March 30, 2020, but his legacy lives on through this wonderful wind band. 


Capt. Brian O. Walden and Dr. Terry Austin now lead the Virginia Wind Symphony.

Dr. Terry Austin


Terry Austin is Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University where he oversees all aspects of the band program and teaches courses in conducting, and music education. Under his leadership, the Virginia Commonwealth University Symphonic Wind Ensemble has earned a reputation for musical excellence and has been invited to perform at many professional conferences including the American Bandmasters Association, MENC, the College Band Directors National Association, and the Virginia Music Educators Association.

He is an active guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator and is published in numerous journals and is the general editor of The Journal of Band Research, A Repertoire Anthology (1964-1989) published by GIA. Dr. Austin is a regular guest conductor of the Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble and is a Guest Professor of the Center of General Education of Guangdong University of Technology in Guangzhou, China. He is the Chair of the Department of Music at VCU.

Austin was the 78th President of the American Bandmasters Association. He served as chairman of the National Band Association/William D. Revelli Band Composition Contest from 1995-2018, chairman of the Bandworld/John Philip Sousa Foundation Legion of Honor, a member of the Board of Directors of the John Philip Sousa Foundation, and a past board member of the American Bandmasters Association, the National Band Association, the Southern Division of NAfME: The National Association for Music Education and past-president of the Virginia Music Educators Association.He is a member of the College Band Directors National Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Beta Mu, and an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Dr. Austin is included in Who’s Who In America, Who in Fine Arts Higher Education, and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He is a multiple recipient of the National Band Association’s Citation of Excellence and in 2005 he received the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts Distinguished Achievement Award of Excellence.

He founded and conducts the Greater Richmond Youth Wind Ensemble, an ensemble of the finest high school musicians in the Richmond metropolitan area, and the Commonwealth Winds, an ensemble comprised of Richmond area teachers and professional performers.

Austin earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University, a Master of Arts in Music Education from the University of Hawaii, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Richmond with his wife, Tracia and twin sons Joshua and Seth.

CAPT Brian O. Walden

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Captain Brian O. Walden, U.S. Navy (Ret.) recently completed 2021/2022 as Visiting Assistant Professor/Interim Director of Bands at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he has remained this year to teach as an Adjunct Instructor in music education. He returned to the Hampton Roads area after serving as Associate Professor, Director of Bands & Instrumental Studies and Interim Director of Music Education at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama from 2018 - 2021. He previously served as the Director of Bands and Director of Music Education at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia from 2015 - 2018 where he was also the Coordinator of the Graduate Conducting Program. He has conducted international recording artists live and for television performances with Jason Mraz, James Taylor, Colbie Caillat, Take 6, Phillip Phillips (American Idol winner), Isaac Slade of the rock band “The Fray,” Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Branford Marsalis (former Director of The Tonight Show Band with Jay Leno), TV and Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris, and performed with Natalie Cole as well as many other artists. He has conducted ensembles and performed as a trumpet instrumentalist on every continent except Antarctica. Brian holds a BA in Music/Religious Studies (Double Major) from Saint Leo University, Florida, a MM in Wind Ensemble Conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied in the DMA Music Education program at Boston University and PhD program in Music Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In 2012 he was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award by the Alumni Council of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston for his career contributions to the field of wind band conducting. He also holds a Graduate Diploma in National Security Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon retirement from active duty serving as the Commanding Officer/Conductor of the United States Navy Band Washington, DC (White House Support Unit) as the senior musician in the Department of Defense, Captain Walden was awarded the distinguished Legion of Merit by President Barack H. Obama for his 35 years of service to the nation. Additionally, in 2019 President Donald J. Trump awarded the National Medal of Arts, “the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government.” Brian has performed on trumpet and as Guest Conductor with the Alabama Winds and is currently the Conductor/Music Director of the Virginia Wind Symphony and serves with the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia as Conductor of the Bay Youth Wind Symphony. Captain Walden is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association, the highest honor for Bandmasters in North America. Captain Walden is married to Staci Harris Walden, whom he met as a blind date for her high school senior prom. They have been married for 37 years and have two sons. Brian and Staci love sailing at their home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and spending time with their grandson, Maverick.

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