Band directors define eras at JTHS
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org November 14, 2012 10:28PM
Updated: December 19, 2012 12:21PM
JOLIET — Within the century of musical excellence at Joliet Township High School, there are distinct eras of history.
Each era is identified by a person’s name — the band director who made it unforgettable in the minds of students.
There’s the A.R. McAllister era from 1913 to 1944 when the band rose to national prominence and attained repeat championships.
After McAllister’s death in 1944, Bruce Houseknecht assumed the director’s role from 1945 to 1969. Under Houseknecht, the band traveled to Washington, D.C., to perform in the inaugural parade of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. Houseknecht saluted Eisenhower during the inaugural. The band won first place, even though it didn’t even know it was competing.
During Houseknecht’s term, the high school branched off into three campuses — Central, East and West — in 1964. Houseknecht remained at Central.
Ted Lega served as band director at Central from 1969 to 2002. His tenure included repeat honor-band designations at the Superstate Concert Band Festival at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The band also won the gold medal at the Toronto Music Festival, was grand champion at the Opryland Music Festival and took first place at the Smoky Mountain Festival in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Mike Fiske is the current band director at Central, serving since 2002. Among Fiske’s achievements, the Central band was grand champion at the 2003 Illinois State University contest and took the title at the New York National Freedom Festival in 2006.
This series will begin with installments on each of these four Central band directors. And in the upcoming weeks, the Herald-News also will explore the histories of the Joliet East and West high school bands.
At East, the band directors were Marshall Erickson (1964-1980), Fiske (1980-81) and William Leafblad (1981-83). At West, they have been Arthur Katterjohn (1964-68), Dean Sayles (1968-1990), I.V. Foster (1990-92), Lega (1992-93) and Kevin Carroll (1993-present).