ONHB History

Cathy Wilcox
Cathy Wilcox

The Ottawa New Horizons Band was founded by Cathy Wilcox, an elementary school music teacher and an active member of Dominion-Chalmers United Church (DC).  She kept encountering parents and others in the community who said they wished they could join a band and learn music the way their children had.

Cathy proposed to the DC Church Council that she develop an outreach program, offering the opportunity for adults to learn to play in a band. The ONHB was modelled after  The New Horizons International Music Association program, which had been founded by Dr. Roy Ernst at the Eastman School of Music to provide entry points to music-making for adults.

Church Council accepted Cathy’s proposal on a trial basis – requiring a minimum of 12 participants.  As it turned out demand was overwhelming and enrolment had to be capped at 60 for the January 2008 launch!  

After that first session in the winter of 2008, a new beginner band was started in September 2008, and an opportunity was provided for returning members to form an intermediate band.  

Over the ensuing years, additional bands have been formed to accommodate more experienced players and different musical interests. We now have about 200 participants.

In 2017, when Dominion-Chalmers could no longer host the organization, the Ottawa New Horizons Band was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation, continuing to welcome adults who would like to learn and play band music in a fun, social environment.