Benefit concert set for Mount Prospect Community Band founder
Colleagues of suburban conductor and clarinetist Ralph Wilder will hold a benefit concert for him Monday to help his family cover medical costs associated with a serious injury he suffered last May.
Wilder, who founded the Mount Prospect Community band in 1975 and led it for 40 years, suffered a spinal cord injury and broken bones last May when the metal frame housing a projection screen fell on him while he rehearsed with the Chicago Clarinet Ensemble at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The Chicago Clarinet Ensemble is sponsoring the concert, which features works by Verdi, Bernstein, Mendelssohn, Louis Prima, Irving Berlin and others. It takes place at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, at the Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Building Auditorium, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave., Chicago. Admission is free, but organizers ask concertgoers to donate at the event or on Wilder's GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/helpthewilderfamily.
Musicians scheduled to perform include principal clarinetists from the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera orchestras; singer Wayne Messmer; jazz clarinetist Jerry DiMuzio; singer Debby Wilder, Ralph's daughter and a CSO chorus member, and Wilder himself.
After parting ways with the Mount Prospect Park District in 2015, Wilder founded the Northwest Concert Band in 2016. The band, which includes many members from the Mount Prospect ensemble, performs at St. Colette Catholic Church in Rolling Meadows.
Members of that band hope for Wilder's return, said Randy Steinberg, the band's interim conductor.
"I'm hoping he can get into condition to conduct again soon," Steinberg said.