Thursday, March 22, 2018

2018 Instrumental Music Day

As a culminating activity to a chamber music unit, students in the South High School Bands participated in the 2018 Instrumental Music Day.  Students in Concert Band and Symphonic Band have spent up to 6 hours of class time preparing solo and small ensemble repertoire.  Today the students performed for each other and for three professional outside expert adjudicators: Alex Beltran, Kathleen Bremer and Antonio Portela.  In addition to receiving a score and a rating for their performance, the students also received immediate formative feedback and a handwritten evaluation sheet.

Students in  Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble enjoyed master classes on career pathways in music that focusing on performance, entrepreneurship, lifestyle habits and professional mindset frameworks presented by each of the judges for the day.

The individual growth through the process of preparing and performing chamber music during this unit has been significant for the students involved.  Thanks to Mr. Hensel for facilitating this event for our student musicians.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

DGS Student Visual Artist Earns AFA Scholarship!

Congratulations to senior artist Maggie Reynolds and her mentor teacher Robyn Bican for winning a $250 scholarship from the Alliance of Fine Arts.   Only two pieces in this show are awarded scholarships.  

District 99 announces faculty appointment at South High School

Community High School District 99 has announced the appointment of Mr. DaJuan Brooks to the faculty of the Downers Grove South High School Fine Arts Department. Mr. Brooks will begin in the 2018-19 academic year teaching five courses: Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Workshop.  He will also assume the role of Lead Director with the Marching Mustangs in June of 2018

Currently the Director of Orchestras at Niles West High School (Niles, IL), Mr. Brooks holds a Masters of Music performance from Northwestern University with a Music Education Certificate.  While at NU Mr. Brooks held the John P. Paynter Endowed Fellowship and a graduate assistantship in the clarinet studio.  Mr. Brooks also holds a Bachelor of Music Performance degree in clarinet from the University of Arizona.  Mr. Brooks is a former conducting finalist for several military bands, including the US Army Field Band and for the United States Air Force Band.  Mr. Brooks has a strong affiliation with Drum Corps International, serving as the Head Drum Major of The Blue Devils “B”, winning an Open Class Championship in 2011 as well as the Jim Jones “Drum Major of the Year” Leadership Award.  Mr. Brooks was also the DCI Individual and Ensemble Clarinet Champion in 2011 and 2012.

Mr. Brook’s appointment is the culmination of a search that drew an international pool of 125 highly qualified applicants. Finalists for the position were observed teaching District 99 music students, and also demonstrated personal musical aptitude through a performance on their major instrument. “Our process was both thorough and highly competitive.” said South High School Fine Arts Chair Glenn Williams.  “Mr. Brook’s charisma, musicianship, passion for students and for the marching arts are going to have a significant impact in the learning community at South High School.”

Having watched Mr. Brooks conduct and teach during the search process, DGS Band member and current junior Matt Seiden shared “He demonstrated so much energy and passion for what he was doing and that's exactly what you want to find in a teacher. I think without a doubt he would be very successful in District 99 because of his energetic and passionate personality.  Junior Isaac Rutledge added “This candidate was very expressive in his way of teaching as well as his way of communicating with the band. He showed great ability to work and improve the whole wind ensemble.”

Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 D99 Honors Vocal Recital

Congratulations to the student musicians from the North High and South High Choral programs for their wonderful performances in this evening's District 99 Vocal Honors Recital.

Initiated over 20 years ago, the District 99 Honors Vocal Recital showcases the finest vocal musicians in District 99 in an annual collaborative performance. This event symbolizes what is best in District 99 - it is collaborative, it is predicated on excellence, and it is all about students.

Leading up to this recital, both South and North High Schools hold independent vocal festivals. These festivals, held during the school day, are adjudicated by professional musicians and teachers from outside of District 99. The expert panel of adjudicators provide each student performing event with immediate formative feedback, and, with a score based on the quality of their performance. Each school then holds a run-off competition, where the best events are selected by the panel of adjudicators to perform on the District 99 Honors Vocal Recital. In total, more than 100 chamber music events are adjudicated during the Vocal Festivals at North and South High Schools.

In addition to the District 99 team of teachers working with the student musicians, a superior staff of private voice teachers coach and accompany the student singers through the performance preparation process at both South and North High Schools. These teachers are integral to the student success manifested during this recital.

Special thanks to District 99 music faculty and staff -  Beth O'Riordan, Ricardo Pedroza, Frank Piekarz, Rachel Seidel, Amanda Sirvatka and Margaret Winchell for their work in coordinating the recital this evening.

2018 Summer Study Opportunities in the Arts!

By geographical proximity, we are fortunate to live within a relatively short driving distance of a myriad of amazing summer music and art camps.  These camps cover a broad range of experiences:  shorter or longer, different types of music, different types of media, college residential, and much, much more.

Pursuing in depth musical or artistic study in a camp setting during the summer months is a great way to keep your student artist  motivated and moving forward when school is not in session.

To access a list of summer music and visual art camp experiences, please click here.

2018 FOFA Summer Study Grant Scholarship Application

Student Artists and Musicians:

If you are interested in continuing your fine arts studies this summer at a music or art camp, but need financial assistance to attend, please consider applying for a scholarship from Friends of Fine Arts, which annually supports over $3,000 in summer study grants to student musicians and artists.

To be considered, your application must be submitted by April 23, 2018.. The Summer Study grant application is on a Google form, completely paperless.. You can complete the form here:  
FOFA SUMMER STUDY GRANT APPLICATION.  You must be logged in with your District 99 e-mail to access and utilize the form.

Questions about the application process? Please ask Mr. Williams, Downers Grove South Fine Arts Department Chairman at

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 South High School Vocal Fest

Over 30 students participated today in the 2018 Vocal Festival.  Students prepared and performed art songs for an adjudicator.  Immediately after the performance, the judge provided the student performers with immediate formative feedback on their performance.  This feedback is done in front of an audience of observers in a master class setting, so the audience members can learn from the teaching as well as the performer.

After a day of performing, there are after school call-backs for students to earn a spot in the District 99 Honors Vocal Festival on Monday, March 19, 2018 at Hinsdale United Methodist Church at 7 PM.  We are extremely proud of every participating performer today for making the investment into studying and performing these songs.

Special congratulations goes to the students that earned special recognition from the judges, and, that earned a spot to perform on the Monday, March 19, 2018 at Hinsdale United Methodist Church at 7 PM. Thanks also to the parents volunteers from today who provided hospitality and who assisted with the logistics of the festival during the course of the day.

Dominic Balsamo
Michaela Dukes
Faith Ley
Gizel Issa
Daniel King
Agne Geidraityte

Amy Binder
Dominic Balsamo
Peter Burrows
Shannon Conniff
Abby Davenport
Michaela Dukes
Agne Giedraityte
Gizel Issa
Danny King
Faith Ley
Natalie Olsen
Nathaniel Parson
Kate Riley
Sam Selakovich
Natalia Soja
Jackie Sumida

VOCAL FEST HONORABLE MENTcute-ballerinas-clipart-02[1]ION
Jake Burrows
Jillian Foster
Diana Kwak
Allie Puccillo
Elani Woods
Jessica Windischman
Jules Zwart