Music masters

Lisa Depies
Geneseo High School's music department placed second in the Class A IHSA music sweepstakes contest. Pictured with the trophy are, from left:?Jamie Kennett, Lauren? Woodworth, Jaran Heaton and Garrin Jost.

Geneseo High School’s music department is building a legacy in the state of Illinois. The department recently was named state runner-up in the Class A IHSA music sweepstakes contest.

The department also placed second last year. Top finishes are nothing new to the Geneseo music department which has six state titles. In fact, in the past decade, the department has only once placed lower than third.

“This win is an acknowledgement to the students of the hard work they do,”?said music department chairman and high-school band director Steve Scherer. “Our success at state just validates what the students already know — we have a strong program.”

In the state’s sweepstakes-style competition, choral and band students accumulate points based on solo, ensemble and organization contest results.

“In order to do well, we have to not only participate at a high level, but have a high number of entries do well,” said Scherer.

For the 2007-08 school year, Geneseo tallied 855 points behind Class A champion Vernon Hills’ 966 points.

“Our success is based on the fact that we don’t just have a strong band or a strong choir, we have a balance of quality on both sides,” said Scherer.

Geneseo superintendent Scott Kuffel said  the district is “extremely proud” of the music department.

“This is really a credit to the efforts of the district’s entire music program. The foundations are being built as early as kindergarten,” said Kuffel.

“The success the high school has had also speaks volumes to the work that has been done at the elementary and middle school levels,” he said.

Maintaining Geneseo’s high-level of musical excellence is something Scherer said his students see more as an?“opportunity” than a “challenge.”

“What we see here is when we have students graduate, there are others willing to step up and fill the void. The excellence of our senior classes encourages the other classes to match that,”?he said.

This year’s senior class is “not just rich with musical talent, but rich with leadership and role models,” Scherer said.

Though most won’t major in music at college, Scherer said many continue to perform with bands or choirs at the college level.

“We’re regarded as a strong program throughout the state, and we can really see that with the fair amount of attention our students receive from universities,” he said.

Approximately 250 students are members of the high-school music department. Department faculty include Scherer, fellow band director Anthony Hernandez and choral director Stephen LaCroix.