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Sycamore Music Boosters Announce Sycamore High School 2016 Music Hall of Fame Inductees

The ongoing Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame awards program will annually honor and recognize a variety of Sycamore High School alumni and music advocates who have demonstrated superior participation and/or support of the Sycamore music programs.  Sycamore Music Boosters is pleased to announce the 2016 Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame inductees include Bob Abel, Dan Andree, Jim Hendricks, and Marilyn Montzka.

In its fourth year, the Sycamore Music Boosters will host an official ceremony to induct the 2016 Music Hall of Fame honorees on Saturday, February 13, in the Sycamore High School Auditorium at 2:30 pm.  This brief afternoon program will include a formal introduction of each inductee and may include musical performances and short tribute speeches. The Sycamore High School All-State musicians will also be recognized during this ceremony. The updated 2016 trophy case located across the hall from the auditorium will be unveiled and the program concludes with a light reception. The public is welcome and invited to attend this free ceremony.

Bob Able, Advocate Award recipient, began teaching in the Sycamore School District in 1973 as a part-time vocal teacher, and was hired full-time the following year as the high school choral director. That same year (1974) he introduced “Madrigal” music into the curriculum and started the Madrigal dinners, complete with original Elizabethan costumes and full dinners. Bob continued to increase the choral curriculum by starting a Swing Choir, festival tours and recording albums with his choirs. During his tenure, he directed or co-directed 31 musical productions at the Middle School and also initiated a guitar/piano curriculum there. During his many years in the district, Bob was a staunch advocate for the Sycamore music, theatre and arts programs, and he was an ardent and active volunteer for the Sycamore Music Boosters, contributing his time and talent to all of these programs. He was also involved with the DeKalb Municipal Band, served as a choral director at several churches, and directed productions with the Children’s Community Theatre and Stagecoach Players.  Bob retired from the Sycamore School District in 2014, after being a music teacher to thousands of young people in Sycamore, and many who are now music teachers and performers.

Dan Andree, Legacy Award recipient, is a 2005 Sycamore High School graduate. He played violin in the Orchestra throughout high school and was selected for ILMEA All-District Orchestra and All-State Orchestra. He was also an active vocal musician during high school participating in Concert Choir, Madrigals, and Jazz Choir, was selected for ILMEA All-District Jazz Choir his senior year, and had roles in the musicals. Dan attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnomusicology.  There he made life-long friendships with peers who played bluegrass music which provided him the tools to start a profession in bluegrass music joining the internationally touring group, the Henhouse Prowlers. Touring extensively throughout the United States and Europe, they then began a string of tours with the U.S. State Department. Dan knows how lucky he is to have been able to grow up in the Sycamore school district and he will take the lessons he has learned from its talented faculty into the years of soul-filling music to come.

James Hendricks, Legacy Award recipient, graduated from Sycamore High School in 1991 as the Valedictorian of his class.  He was involved in music throughout his education in the Sycamore school district beginning piano at age 6. Throughout high school, Jim played the alto saxophone as a member of the concert band, marching and pep bands.  He was a pianist in the Jazz Ensemble and jazz combos, and played in the Orchestra.  He was selected for ILMEA District jazz ensembles, being named the number one jazz pianist in the district, as well as being selected as the “top seat” in the All-State Jazz Band and All-State Honors Jazz Combo. Jim earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Northern Illinois in piano performance with a jazz emphasis, then earned his Master of Music in piano performance and pedagogy from NIU. He has performed with a variety of jazz groups such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the All-American Orchestra, the Carnival Cruise lines Holiday Shop Big Band, and with the Piotr Bal Jazz Group.  He has had notable guest appearances with jazz greats Tito Puente, Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Della Reese, Rita Moreno, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and others. In recent years, Jim has become involved in the Christian music ministry.  He has performed more than 1,300 Christian piano concerts in churches all across the U.S., including three appearances at the Crystal Cathedral.   He has made fourteen piano recordings, performed on ABC, CBS, TBN and PAX, authored the book “Contemporary Arrangements for Today’s Church Pianist,” and has been featured in the Clavier piano journal. Since 1998, he has been a Professor of Music at Chicago State University and teaches a variety of music courses including applied piano, jazz piano, class piano, music theory, and fundamentals of music.  

Marilyn Montzka, Advocate Award recipient, became involved in the Sycamore school district when she moved here in 1973 with her husband, Art. Marilyn grew up in a “musical” family and she has been involved in music all of her life.  As a youth, she played several instruments including the piano, flute, cornet, French horn, and viola, but ultimately stayed with the piano and viola as her primary instruments.  She attended and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor degree in Music Education where she was introduced to the Suzuki method and she established the desire to teach the Suzuki method. Marilyn began her advocacy for music education with her involvement for the Sycamore High School to have a full-time orchestra teacher. She was also heavily involved in the Sycamore Music Boosters and started the private lessons program in the district. She spent many years helping with this program, accompanying students, judging auditions, and tending to the organizational aspects of the program. Marilyn’s advocacy for the arts has extended to being the Director of the Suzuki Piano Program for NIU’s Community School of the Arts for many years, and taught at several Suzuki Institutes in the United States.  She is a musician in the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra and continues to be a church musician as vocalist and director of a handbell choir.  

These inductees will also be honored and announced at the annual A Note to Remember event on February 13 at Blumen Gardens from 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm. Tickets are $30.00 and are available at the Sycamore High School main office, Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists 3266 Resource Parkway office in DeKalb, Kar Fre Flowers, and Shawn’s Deli, via E-mail at or by calling 815.751.8388. For more information, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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