Yes, you can go back again! Alumni of Buffalo Grove High School’s band program came from all walks of life for the chance to take their seat again and perform, in a special 50th anniversary concert.
“Musically, this is where it all started for me,” said Anthony Sorgani, a 2017 grad who plays the soprano sax. “I work in audio visual and I still use my music training.”
Another 2016 grad, Emily Valentin, who plays alto sax, added: “I made so many friends in band. This was a nice chance to play with them again.”
They were among 40 alumni who returned Sunday to Buffalo Grove High School for a 50th anniversary concert that celebrated the legacy of “Bison Band excellence.” The afternoon featured performances by its concert and symphonic bands as well as band alumni from all five decades. In all, the combined bands filled the stage with nearly 150 musicians.
“This was a way for us to pay tribute to the program’s rich history while also showcasing our current students’ talent,” said Vince Genualdi, band director.
He invited three former directors to join band members on stage: Bob Rogers, first Director of Bands; Ed Jacobi, fourth Director of Bands; and Henry Kappler, fifth Director of Bands. The symphonic band played a moving rendition of “Rest,” composed by Frank Ticheli. It was featured as a tribute to Bill Carroll, the second Director of Bands, who died in a car accident during his tenure. The afternoon also included a letter from Dr. Keith Ramsden, third Director of Bands.
The celebration concert drew a standing room only crowd. School officials scrambled to set up more chairs as fans kept pouring in. They estimate that approximately 500 people were in attendance.
Alumni rehearsed for three hours the morning of the concert. During one of their breaks, they toured the new $3 million, 8,500-square-foot fine arts music addition, that replaced the old band room and provided much better acoustics.
Among the alumni to return was Bryan Itzkovitz, who plays alto saxophone and has taught music and jazz in Wheeling Elementary District 21 for 18 years.
“This is such a cool event,” Itzkovitz said, “to see so many former students who went on to major in music and are still playing.”
One of those still playing was Alyssa Arkin, who played clarinet at Buffalo Grove before performing with the Marching Illini in college. She now teaches music privately to students in the Northwest suburbs.
“It’s just so great to see people from all generations come back,” Arkin said.
Another alumna to return was Christine Troglio of Des Plaines. She plays multiple instruments but played bassoon on Sunday in the concert. While she has built a successful career in human resources, Troglio continues to play her instrument in the Arlington Heights Community Band and her flute in the Chicago-based Lakeside Pride Marching Band.
“I am forever grateful to the BG band program,” Troglio said, “for providing me with a foundation for a lifelong love of music.”
Sandy Ellingsen figures she was the oldest alumnus to return. She graduated in 1978 and during her sophomore year played “Hail to the Chief,” when the school welcomed President Gerald Ford during a campaign stop. Ellingsen went on to major in music at the University of Indiana and earned a master’s degree before teaching music at Hawthorn Middle School in Vernon Hills. She continues to play with the North Shore Concert Band and at her church, The Orchard in Arlington Heights.
“I made so many good friends through band,” Ellingsen said. “I’ve just always loved music and I wanted to pass that along to my students.”