Weston Noble was a highly accomplished, internationally renowned, and much beloved American music educator and conductor. Most recently the Johnson Professor Emeritus of Music at Luther College, Noble had a 57-year tenure as a conductor and teacher at Luther. He is remembered as an adviser, a mentor, a friend, an extreme talent, and, for many, the face of Luther College’s storied music tradition.
Noble received international acclaim as the conductor of the Luther College Nordic Choir from 1948 to 2005, the Luther College Concert Band from 1948 to 1973, and as guest director for more than 900 all-state bands, orchestras, choirs, and festivals across four continents.
He was a charter member of the American Choral Directors Association and an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association. In 1994, the North Central Division of the American Choral Directors Association established the Weston H. Noble Award for Lifetime Achievement. Noble was the first to be honored by this award.
Because of his outstanding contributions to choral music, Noble received the Robert Lawson Shaw Award from the American Choral Directors Association. For his contributions to instrumental music, he was awarded the 2008 Midwest Clinic Medal of Honor from the International Convention of Band and Orchestra Directors.
In the field of music education, the National Federation of State High School Associations recognized him as the Outstanding Music Educator of the United States and the National Association for Music Education awarded him the Lowell Mason Fellow Award in the area of music education/industry.
Noble held five honorary doctoral degrees, including from Augustana College (South Dakota), St. Olaf College, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Carthage College, and Wartburg College. He was awarded the St. Olav's Medal from King Harald V of Norway for his contributions to Norwegian-American relations.
Following yearlong guest residencies at Carthage College, Wartburg College, and Augustana College, Noble worked part-time for the Luther College Development Office. He was an adamant supporter of his alma mater and a great recruiter of students. He founded the college’s Dorian festivals and summer camp programs, which have brought more than 90,000 high school and middle school musicians to Luther, and he continued to make phone calls and handwrite letters to prospective students well into his “retirement.”
Noble died in Decorah, at age 94, on December 21, 2016.
No one is more well respected and loved in the choral music world than Weston. His legacy as a musician is almost beyond compare.
—James Ripley, director of instrumental studies, Carthage College
Noble knew how to place each voice into an aural puzzle . . . until he heard exactly the right sound.
—Catherine Preus '91, Minneapolis Star Tribune