A History of Excellence

A History of Excellence

Directors of Bands Past and Present

John Hersey Bands have a history of music excellence beginning with director Mr. Don Caneva in 1968. The John Hersey Band program has received countless awards and accolades throughout a colorful history, including performances, under Mr. Caneva’s direction, at the MidWest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Mid-East Convention, the Rose Bowl Parade and the Orange Bowl Parade. Under Mr. Casagrande’s direction, the John Hersey Symphonic Band has been accepted to perform at the Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festival every year since 2001, including the achievement of “Honor Band” in 2008 and 2012 and they have also performed at the 2004 and 2007 National Concert Band Festival. In 2007-2008, the Hersey band program received international acclaim in their performance at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic and they received the Sudler Flag of Honor given to bands of “particular national excellence” by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

Spencer Hile

Spencer Hile

Director of Bands: 2021-Present

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Spencer Hile joined the Hersey band program in 2021. Previously he was the band director at McHenry High School in McHenry, Illinois where he taught two jazz bands, three concert bands, percussion ensemble, and music theory. Under his direction, the McHenry Symphonic Band performed at the University of Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festival, Illinois Music Educators Conference, and was one of sixteen high school bands from across the country selected to perform on the featured stage at the 2020 National Concert Band Festival.

Mr. Hile’s interest in music began when he was required to join band for his freshman year at Highland Park High School by his high school band director, Dr. Jim Hile. After the kicking and screaming subsided he discovered a deep appreciation for the most important instrument… Euphonium. In 2016, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Instrumental Music Education.

Mr. Hile currently lives in Oakwood Hills with his fiancee Liv and loyal puppy Cooper. Outside of teaching and music, he is training to run his fourth marathon, obsessing over Apple products, and questioning why he ever became a Chicago Bears fan.

Scott Casagrande

Scott Casagrande

Director of Bands 1999-2021

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Scott J. Casagrande has been Director of Bands at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, IL since 1999 and is currently in his 33rd year of teaching in the Illinois public school system.  He previously taught at Plainfield High School and Stephen Decatur High School.

In addition to his duties at John Hersey High School, Mr. Casagrande currently serves Music for All/Bands of America as a Music Education Consultant responsible for the National Concert Band Festival and Affiliate Regional Music Festivals. He is also an administrator for the Music Education Alliance and the Dr. William P. Foster Project involving CBDNA, NBA and Music for All.   He is a Past-President of the National Band Association after successful tenures as 2nd Vice-President, 1st Vice-President, President and Immediate Past-President.  He also served the NBA as a High School Representative, as a member of the Revelli Composition Contest Selection Committee and as a contributor to the popular Selective Music List. In 2004, he was one of three conductors in the United States chosen to participate in the NBA International Conducting Symposium in Rome, Italy, conducting the Italian National Army Band.  Mr. Casagrande has been nominated and inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association as well as the Phi Beta Mu International Band Fraternity. Mr. Casagrande has received 22 Citation of Excellence Awards from the National Band Association and he has been recognized by former President Barack Obama, the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the Illinois Senate, School District 214, Plainfield HS, Stephen Decatur HS, Quinlan and Fabish Music and Bob Rogers Travel.  He has been published many times in The Instrumentalist and the National Band Association Journal and has presented at several state conventions.

Under Mr. Casagrande’s direction, the John Hersey Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble have both performed as a featured ensemble in the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.  They have also been selected to perform in the last 21 Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festivals in which they applied, two Illinois Music Educators Association Conventions and four Music for All National Concert Band Festivals. The JHHS Symphonic Band has been named the Illinois Superstate Concert Band Festival Class AAA Honor Band four times and the JHHS band program was awarded the Sudler Flag of Honor by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.  In addition, Jazz Ensembles under Mr. Casagrande’s direction have been Grand Champions at the Purdue Jazz Festival (90+ Bands) seven times and the Jazz in the Meadows Festival (100+ bands) twice in addition to being named Class Winner several times.  The JHHS Marching Huskies have been state finalists six times in the last seven years, including Class 4A Champions the last four years.  The Symphonic Band has performed at Carnegie Hall twice, Chicago’s Symphony Center three times, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and several other world-class venues.  The John Hersey Bands performed to large audiences in two tours of Italy (7 concerts) and one tour of the French Riviera (4 concerts).

Mr. Casagrande and his wife, Janice, have two daughters, Mary and Julia.

Tom Beckwith

Tom Beckwith

Assistant Director of Bands 2007-2019

Mr. Beckwith served as Director of Bands at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Illinois from 1977 until his retirement in 2007. He received his Bachelor’s degree from MacMurray College, his Master’s from the University of Illinois and has done post-graduate work at the University of Illinois and VanderCook College of Music. Under his direction, Warren Bands have performed at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, the National Concert Band Festival, the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, the Monterey Jazz Festival, University of Illinois Superstate Honor Band, and the Illinois Music Educators Association State Conference.

Mr. Beckwith has served as conductor for the Illinois All-State Jazz Band, several All-District Bands, University of Illinois Summer Youth Concert Band, Birch Creek Music Academy, and is in demand throughout the Midwest as a clinician and adjudicator.

Honorary memberships include Phi Beta Mu, ASBDA, Who’s Who In American Education, and nomination for the prestigious “Golden Apple” award for excellence in education. Other honors include selection as the Warren Teacher of the Month, his seventh National Band Association Citation for Excellence, and selection as Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator. In 2003, Mr. Beckwith was one of two high school directors in Illinois selected by the Illinois Music Educators Association to present the symposium “Meet the Masters” at the Illinois All State Music Conference for all the high school band directors in the State of Illinois.

In 2004 he appeared on ABC 7 News honoring his teaching excellence. Mr. Beckwith was nominated for membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association in 2005. He has been selected for “Who’s Who In Education” on four separate occasions. He has served as an Illinois Music Educators Association District and State Chairperson, the Advisory Board of the Illinois Unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators, the Illinois High School Association Music Executive Board. Professional memberships include the Music Educators National Conference, International Association of Jazz Educators and the Illinois Music Educators Association.

After retiring from WTHS, Tom worked part time at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and Northern Illinois University Music Education Dept. until he passed away on February 14th, 2019. While Tom took great pride in the fact that so many of his students became musicians and music teachers, he was just as proud of those who learned to love music for life, no matter their occupation. His teaching lives on through them all and through the memories of his students who still recite his infectious “Beckwith-isms” to their own students or families.

Dallas Niermeyer

Director of Bands 1986-1999

Andy Brandenburg

Director of Bands 1984-1986

Mike Hetzel

Assistant Director of Bands 1981-1982

Ray Zubler

Director of Bands 1981-1984, Assistant Director 1978-1980

Jim Rich

Director of Bands 1978-1981, Assistant Director 1973-1978

Bob Rogers

Assistant Director of Bands 1970-1973

Don Caneva

Director of Bands 1968-1978