Strike up the band: Museum honors JT band
By Tony Graf email@example.com January 18, 2013 2:38PM
The Joliet Historial Museum Board of Directors welcomed and greeted guests attending this annual fundraising event.
Updated: February 21, 2013 6:28AM
JOLIET — The Joliet Area Historical Museum has created an exhibit, “Strike Up the Band,” that explores a century of musical excellence at Joliet Township High School.
The exhibit opened in 2012 — the centennial year of the high school band — and is an ongoing feature at the museum, 204 N. Ottawa St. in downtown Joliet. The museum is seeking sponsors in order to create a permanent band exhibit.
In October, the museum honored the Joliet Township High School Band program at the 11th-annual DreamMakers Ball, the annual gala for the museum.
The band program was given the title “DreamMaker” for its contributions to Joliet.
“The program’s accomplishments and impact on the national high school band movement is a story that continues to be studied and referenced by musicians, musical historians and proud band students and families to this day,” said Anthony B. Contos, executive director of the museum. “The JTHS band program has served as an inspiration to generations of its participants throughout their adult lives.”
The October event filled the museum and neighboring Renaissance Center with orchestra and band music from current musicians at Joliet Township High School. The event also was filled with memories and photographs from 100 years of band history.
The Herald-News is currently detailing the band’s history in a special series, “The Best Band in the Land.” We have reviewed the first era of the band’s history — under Director A.R. McAllister, who led the band from 1913 to 1944. Look for upcoming stories about Bruce Houseknecht, who was director from 1945 to 1969.
This month marks the 60th anniversary of the band’s performance in the inaugural parade of President Eisenhower, on Jan. 21, 1953, in Washington. Joliet, under Houseknecht’s direction, was honored as the best high school band in that parade.
In previous galas, the museum has bestowed the DreamMaker title to celebrate the contributions of John C. Houbolt, Neal and Nancy Houbolt, John Leach, and LaVerne (Bitz) and Dorothy (Dottie) Brown.
“Each of them is a part of Joliet’s heart and soul,” Contos said. “They have accomplished their dreams and have helped others to accomplish theirs.”
On the very night that the band program became the next “DreamMaker,” the Joliet West High School Band excelled in a competition at Eastern Illinois University. The band placed third out of 36 bands in Charleston, taking the award for best flag corps and best musical performance.
After a century of musical excellence, the honors continue for Joliet Township High School.
For more information on the museum, call 815-723-5201, or visit www.jolietmuseum.org.