CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (April 6, 2023) – Marian Catholic High School Director of Bands Greg Bimm has announced his retirement after 46 years at the school. Bimm led the Marian Catholic Marching Band to seven Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships and 42 state titles in class. He will retire at the end of the current school year in June.
“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.”
Decades of success
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 and earned a national reputation. Under Bimm’s leadership, Marian Catholic has earned first place in its class at the Illinois State Marching Band Championships every year since 1980, a 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 has been named a BOA Grand National Champion seven times; BOA Summer National Champion five times; and BOA Class AA National Champion 23 times in 36 appearances, a record unmatched by any other high school band in the country.
The Marching Band has also performed in two Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, and the 2000 Presidential Inauguration Parade. The Marian Catholic Symphonic Band has been undefeated since 1981 at the State of the Art Catholic High School Band Contest.
Marian has been named Honor Band in their class at the University of Illinois SuperState Concert Band a record 10 times.
Throughout his years at Marian Catholic, Bimm has earned many personal awards as well. In addition to being elected to the prestigious American Bandmasters Association in 1994 and being the first high school band director in 25 years to be invited to conduct the Illinois All-State Band in 1995, Mr. Bimm was among the first to be awarded the Mary Hoffman Award of Excellence by the Illinois Music Educators Association (1999). He received the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation in 1991 and 1997, and in 2005, was inducted into the Music for All Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact on music education in America. In 2006 he was named a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Association for Music Education and was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2010.
Praise for Greg Bimm
Bobby Lambert, Director of Bands at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and former Assistant Director of Bands at Marian Catholic, said, “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.”
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. He said, “You never really stop being a student of Greg Bimm. Even as a colleague and a friend, you never stop learning from him.”
Moving on, staying close
“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,” 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!”
While retiring as Director of Bands, Bimm will continue to serve as a consultant for the band program and write shows. Additionally, 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,” Krydynski said. “His willingness to serve as an emeritus is a huge blessing.”
Plans are being finalized to raise funds to create the first-ever endowed position at Marian Catholic in Bimm’s name. The endowment would fund the Director of Bands position, demonstrating Marian Catholic’s commitment to the band program and ensuring its strength for years to come. Any other plans to recognize Bimm and the accomplishments of the Marian Catholic Bands will be shared at a later date with alumni and friends of the program.
Marian Catholic High School is located at 700 Ashland Avenue in Chicago Heights.
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