History of the QPS Music Department
(Material furnished by Ed Allen, Kathleen Dooley, and Dan Sherman)
The Quincy Public Schools Music Department was established in 1888 when the Board of Education hired Professor Philip Cady Hayden as the first supervisor of music. Early history is included in Chapters XIV, XX, XXX, XXXII, XXXVI, and XXXV. Quincy as a community has given immeasurable support for school music programs through good economic times and bad. Outstanding music educators have taught a countless number of students who have born testimony through their participation in school as well as in adult life to the merits of the motto, “A richer, fuller life through music.”
Instrumental music began when Paul E. Morrison and Maude Harding developed the first bands and orchestras in the early 1920’s. Morrison’s tenure from 1921-1951 saw great growth and led to the foundation of our modern day program. Supervisors of the music department since Morrison include: Dan Perrino (1951-1955), Dale Kimpton (1955-1969), Eugene Johnson (1969-1989) and Kathleen Dooley (1989-present.)
The Dan Perrino years built on the strong traditions and added a school jazz program. Another new addition was “New Faces,” a student variety show which featured the jazz band and student acts. This widely popular show continues today and its 50th anniversary show brought back Perrino and students from his era. Dan Perrino had a unique ability to motivate those around him – both staff and students. Today he lives in Urbana, IL where he spent the rest of his career after leaving Quincy (Urbana Public Schools and the University of Illinois) and continues to have close ties with his Quincy friends.
Dale Kimpton’s years brought about continued growth and a strong emphasis on performance excellence. To develop each student to his potential, a musicianship check off list was utilized. Students needed to advance on the musicianship scale, which most students did through private instructors. The wide availability of private instruction in Quincy has certainly added to the excellence of all music programs. High school students were allowed to teach beginners and at the same time increase their own abilities. “Coach” Kimpton held students to high standards and expected them to participate in solo and ensemble contest. During his tenure, an elementary vocal consultant program was begun. From 1965-1968 John Duker assisted with the QHS bands and then spent the rest of his career teaching at the elementary level and maintaining the district’s extensive instrument inventory.
Eugene Johnson’s years were characterized by large numbers of students participating in music. Junior high had four bands and two orchestras. Due to reorganization to manage the large numbers of students, Quincy High School was separated into Senior High I and Senior High II in separate buildings. During Johnson’s tenure he increased staff and became the first full time Supervisor of Music Education, passing the high school band directorship to QHS alum Eddie Allen. Under Allen’s direction, the band was invited to play at the Music Educators National Conference in Omaha in 1975. The Pep Band was invited to play at the IHSA State Basketball Tournament Finals in Champaign in 1978 and “Uncle Waldo’s” Ragtime Band was also selected to play in Washington, D.C. in 1978. Under Paul Duker’s direction (years), the QHS I Jazz Band performed at Disney World in Florida in 1979. The QHS Band, Orchestra, and Choir students had the opportunity to perform in Washington, D.C. in 1981 as guests of Representative Paul Findley. In 1986, Paul Duker left the junior high band program to become an administrator at Baldwin School and Eddie Allen moved to become the Quincy Junior High director. QHS alum Les Fonza joined the district to take over the QHS bands. Mr. Johnson felt strongly about developing the music abilities of all students and increased the general music staff to provide more class time. His vision for the district was to bring all aspects of the music program together emphasizing that students could develop potential in all areas.
Kathleen Dooley has continued the support of general music and the philosophy that all students can participate. Under her leadership the music department has moved from departmental organization to a cross discipline approach where students are encouraged to develop all music skills by performing in various groups. Quincy High’s marching band has changed from traditional picture shows to a themed precision drill show that develops throughout the season. The drumline has become more diverse and often is featured during the field show and as an individual ensemble. The marching band travels to many competitions and parades. In 2005 Chris Beason was hired to become the QHS band director upon Les Fonza’s retirement. The fall of 2010 has seen QHS alum Matthew Gabriel join the program as the QHS band director. The “alum” tradition continues! Ms. Dooley is involved in all facets of the QPS music program and continues the precedent set before her tenure for being a tireless advocate for students and staff.
The fact that the Quincy Public Schools are a unit district (K-12) is a strength for the music department. Teachers work with students at all levels and take ownership in the progress of younger students who feed into the junior and senior high school programs. The preparation that takes place in the elementary and junior high programs is a fundamental strength for the Quincy Public Schools program. Quincy High School musicians have consistently ranked among the top musicians in the state of Illinois and have been selected as All-Staters by the Illinois Music Educators Association. Additionally, the QHS Marching Blue Devils have been selected on many occasions to lead the Spectro Magic Parade and the Main Street Parade in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando Florida. The QHS Orchestra has also been selected and performed at Downtown Disney. These performances are part of the Disney Magic Music Days Program which coincidentally were initiated by QHS alum Judsen Green during his tenure with Disney Entertainment.
Quincy is blessed to have a strong string program which is not typical of the majority of school districts. With the presence of a local symphony, numerous private teachers, and community support, the program has flourished and achieved wide recognition. Numerous graduates have gone on to teach and perform in major symphonies. The following individuals stand out in the development of this program.
Wayne Pyle was a long-time director of the Quincy High School Orchestra, having come to the district in 1949 and staying for thirty-four years. His passion for music was imparted to students through performance and also teaching about the background of the music performed. Some of the innovations he brought to the program were: the Salon String Ensemble which performed at community receptions and events, and the Pops Concert for which the orchestra provided music for dancing and dining and was held annually as a fund raiser. A highlight of Mr. Pyle’s years was being selected to perform at the prestigious Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. The orchestra performed for an audience of top music educators in the United States.
Upon Wayne Pyle’s retirement in 1983, Kristin Turner took over as QHS Orchestra director from 1982-1989. Paul Jenkin served as an interim director in 1986-1987 while Miss Turner did graduate work. A unique situation presented itself in the fall of 1989 when both QHS and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra were needing new directors. Clyde Bassett was hired to fill both positions and continued to do so until his untimely death in 2005. He brought his unique jazz abilities to the community as well as to his teaching. QHS alum, Marcia Fauble Wentzel taught at QJHS and moved to the QHS director position after Mr. Bassett’s passing. She retired in 2015. Chris Gass, the current QHS Orchestra Director is continuing the tradition of excellence in the Quincy Public Schools’ string program with the help of support staff Chad Ensinger and Josh Wunderlich.
Don Langellier also had a thirty-four year tenure with the Quincy Public Schools teaching in the elementary and junior high programs. Strings were his primary area, but he also was in charge of the junior high bands for many years until Paul Duker and Bruce Jacobson came in 1971. Don, with his wife Vivian’s support, was the chairman of the Illinois Grade School Music Association for many years, and in this role organized and ran the solo and ensemble contests – a major undertaking.
Choral music was taught for many years on a part-time basis. Cloyce Enlow joined the Junior High School staff in 1934, going later to the Senior High School where he staged Broadway musicals. Edith Brooks joined the staff from 1943-1947. Boyd White was hired in 1947 as QHS Choral Director and continued until 1962. The musical productions and Christmas Vespers held in the Junior High Auditorium (now Morrison Theatre) were most impressive. Douglas Reeve followed White and stayed until 1966 when Al Carnine came for a three year tenure. Dan Sherman came to the Junior High School in 1964 where he organized the school’s first Mixed Choir and Madrigal Choir. He later moved to Senior High School in 1969 where he stayed until he retired in 2008. Kathleen Dooley began as an assistant to Sherman in 1980 and currently continues to provide a cohesive link between the junior high and senior high programs. QPS Choirs are currently offered in grades four through twelve and reflect many facets that were begun in early years as well as newly added musical experiences. Quincy boasts of a 28 year tradition of Boy’s Choirs, begun by Dooley in 1982. Many of the young men who began their singing careers in the Baldwin Intermediate School Boy’s Choir have continued to sing together into their college years in such groups as the University of Illinois Men’s Glee Club and The Yale Men’s Chorus. In 2008, Paul Shelor took over the Senior High School Choir directing responsibilities. Lisa Whitley joined the vocal music staff and has championed the Women’s choruses of Quincy Senior High. The Quincy Senior High Choral Department has consistently produced many students who have been selected as All-State musicians and vocalists selected to perform the National Anthem at Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state events. The QHS Concert Choir performed for the Illinois Superintendent’s State Convention in 2008 and has recorded many selections throughout the years. Additionally, the Concert Choir has been selected to perform numerous times in the Candlelight Processional at the Walt Disney World Theme Park in Orlando, Florida.
In his first year as Quincy Senior High School Choir Director, Dan Sherman formed a group that would dance and sing popular music of the day. The group’s first performance was featured in the annual variety show “New Faces” in 1970. This would mark the beginning of the QHS Swing Choir. The ensemble performed for many local clubs, community events, and school programs. Sherman renamed the group “Quincy Senior High School Show Choir – the Singing Ambassadors of Quincy, Illinois” to better spotlight its versatility and purpose. In 1980, Kathleen Dooley became co-director with Sherman and served as choreographer. Much like the marching band, the show choir began themed productions around 1998 and serve as a very popular extension of the QHS choir program. The Show Choir has gained national prominence winning competitions in Orlando, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois.
Under Dan Sherman’s tutelage, the Quincy Senior High School Madrigal Singers were chosen to participate in the very first University of Illinois Madrigal Symposium. Four other choirs from the state were also chosen for this prestigious event. The Madrigal Choir was honored to be selected for the symposium for many years. In addition to the Madrigal Symposium, the QHS Madrigal Choir was selected to perform twice at the Illinois Music Educator’s Conference in Peoria, Illinois as featured performers and at the Illinois American Choral Directors Association Conference. The Madrigal Choir serves as the core of the popular Christmas Singers who perform throughout the Quincy Community throughout the Christmas season.
Broadway musicals have long been part of the Quincy Public Schools’ curriculum. Dan Sherman has often told the story of how assistant superintendent of schools Dr. Robert E. Meyer told Sherman that the Quincy High musicals “have to be good”. Sherman tells how he had nightmares that maybe his first musical would not be successful. However, Sherman’s first show, “My Fair Lady,” was indeed a success and with the assistance of an extraordinary staff, he went on to produce forty-one Broadway musicals during his career. “My Fair Lady,” produced in 1969, marked the first time that wireless microphones were used for a musical production in Quincy.
A new high school building opened in 1972 at 33rd. & Maine Streets, featuring a state-of-the-art facility that paved the way for more professional and elaborate productions. Drama directors Tom Burnett, Tim Berry, and Wiley Euwer joined with Wayne Pyle, Kristen Turner, Marcia Fauble Wentzel, David Brown, and Kathleen Dooley to produce elaborate productions that continue to perform for sold out audiences today.
Christmas Vespers, dating back to the 1950’s at Quincy Senior High School, remains a community favorite involving all QHS Choirs, the Orchestra, and a brass choir selected from the QHS Band. Over the years, traditions have been established including the candlelight processional and performances of “Silent Night” and “The Hallelujah Chorus” featuring current choral students and alumni accompanied by the orchestra. Members of the community have often expressed that Vespers is the concert that sets the mood for the entire holiday season.
New Faces has been a Quincy tradition that continues to sold out audiences each year. Started in 1955 by band director Dan Perrino, New Faces was originally a variety show featuring only the QHS Jazz Band members and variety acts. This format was continued for many years. In 1969, Dan Sherman added the QHS Swing Choir to the production. In 1981, Eddie Allen, Wayne Pyle, Dan Sherman, Paul Duker, Joe Westbrook, and Kathleen Dooley combined the talents of Quincy Senior High I and Quincy Senior High II to create the present format of New Faces featuring the talents of the QHS Jazz Band and the QHS Show Choir. Additional QHS students are selected by audition to complement this annual spring production.
In 2005, New Faces celebrated the 50th. Anniversary of the production. Current QHS students were thrilled to share the stage with so many talented Quincy Senior High alumni who were gracious enough to join the 2005 cast and crew for the special anniversary production. Lawson and Jan Faler were invaluable resources who guided everyone with pictures and vivid memories of names and show details from productions in the early years. Dan Perrino, Carlyle Johnson, and Al Hunter really brought the stage to life with their fabulous jazz combo performance, and having most of the 1985 Geek Show return to recreate their slapstick humor was a real treat. Harriet Musolino would have been very proud of Beth Heinz and her dancers who brought Harriet’s costumes and dances back to life, and Burt Shackleton showed the audience that 1986 “just wasn’t that long ago.” All in all, the 50th. Anniversary production of New Faces was a great opportunity to remind the students and alumni of Quincy Senior High of the rich and extraordinary history of great talent that continues to be showcased on the QHS stage.
The Friends of the Performing Arts (FPA) is a totally volunteer organization with one goal, “To promote and support the arts in Quincy Public Schools.” The FPA has championed the cause of the Quincy Public Schools Fine Arts programs in the Quincy Public Schools and has become its primary booster organization for all QPS arts groups. The organization was founded by Kathleen Dooley in 1996 with the assistance of Kent Snider, Jackie Schlipmann, Cindy Foster, George Fuhr, Christina Evans and Bill Holliday in response to many budget cuts that fine arts groups in the Quincy Public Schools Fine Arts were experiencing. Since their inception, the FPA has purchased and maintained many instruments, production royalties, equipment, and technology for QPS students in all levels that otherwise have been cut from the school district’s budget. It is because of the efforts of FPA that many of our programs are still available for Quincy students today.
A fundraising event that has been added in recent years with great support from the FPA is Octoberfest. This all day marching band festival features bands from several states in an afternoon parade and an evening field competition. Numerous awards are presented at the conclusion of this popular event including the Ragan Knapheide Outstanding Percussion Award, the Heibreder Drum Major Award, the Randy Hoover Outstanding Soloist Award and the James Burns Outstanding Brass Award. Over 250 QPS parent volunteers and alumni help to make this event an annual fall classic for the entire Quincy community.
Another major fundraising event held in the spring is the Showcase of Excellence Invitational Show Choir and Jazz Band Competition, Each year over 40 show choirs and jazz bands from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri compete throughout this two day event. Nationally known adjudicators critique each group as they perform for “standing room only” audiences. The event has multiple facets including a vocal solo contest, a style show and a jazz improvisation contest. Local Quincy hotels and restaurants benefit from the many schools that travel to Quincy with their families for the event and stay the entire weekend. Once again, over 500 parent and alumni volunteers make the event possible each year.