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Sycamore Music Boosters Unveil New Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame

When Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson approached the Sycamore Music Boosters with a vision and opportunity to develop a Music Hall of Fame at the High School to honor numerous deserving alumni, the Music Boosters were ecstatic! With planning, organizing, and construction beginning a year ago, the Sycamore Music Boosters recently unveiled the brand new Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame with a weekend celebration.

The ongoing Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame awards program each year will 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.  For its Inaugural opening, the Music Hall of Fame display case, located across the hall from the Auditorium, was unveiled at the Pride of Sycamore High: A Celebration of Music event hosted by the Sycamore History Museum and Sycamore High School. The evening truly was a celebration of music as the Class of 2013 Music Hall of Fame inductees were announced. The first Class of 2013 Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame Inductees include Ann Montzka-Smelser, Kirk Lundbeck, and Jeffrey Hepker.

The program continued as numerous alumni who represent a diverse range of music careers and experience, shared their memories and opportunities experienced in the music programs during high school, and many showcased their musical talents with performances. Guests included Ann Montzka-Smelser, Kirk Lundbeck, Drayton Eggleson, Hellen Weberpal, and Steve Abel.  Garth Anderson, Bryan Carter, and Dan Andree were additional guests that attended “in spirit” as their own bios and memories were read at the event.

Ann Montzka-Smelser and Kirk Lundbeck, two of the present Inaugural Inductees, with Inductee Jeffrey Hepker there in spirit, shared the honor in cutting the drapery; as the cloth fell to the floor the elegant and classy Music Hall of Fame display case was unveiled. Madelyn Anderson, Music Hall of Fame Committee Chair and long-time standing Music Booster member comments, “We are so thankful for this opportunity to participate in the Pride of Sycamore High event.  It was a wonderful experience and an appropriate and exciting “unveiling” of the Hall of Fame case!”

The official Induction Ceremony was held at the 5th Annual A Note to Remember Classical and Jazz Gala the following evening.  This event showcases various High School ensembles including the Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Choir, and String Quintet, as well as local musicians including the Chris Johnson Quintet and Diana Carls and the Blue Skies Trio. Sycamore Music Boosters President, Ken Olson, along with Hall of Fame Committee Chair, Madelyn Anderson, introduced each inductee and presented them with a commemorative tile.

Kirk Lundbeck, Legacy Award recipient, graduated Sycamore High in 1976. Throughout high school he played trombone in band, pit orchestra, and was a tenor in the concert choir and madrigals. He was principal trombonist all four years in the IMEA All-District Honors Band and Honors Jazz Band. During his junior and senior years, he was principal trombone in the IMEA All-State band and orchestra, and the All-State honors jazz band. Kirk wrote and arranged the Sycamore High School Loyalty Hymn, “Black and Gold,” which is still performed each year at SHS graduations. Kirk received his Bachelor of Music, and has performed with numerous orchestras such as the Kishwaukee Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and the Rockford Symphony, and others. He currently is the new Conductor and Music Director of the DeKalb Municipal Band and the leader of his own jazz trio, “The Black Tie Jazz Trio”. Upon receiving this honor, Kirk comments, “I am truly thrilled to be chosen and honored as one of the first inductees!”

Ann Montzka-Smelser, Legacy Award recipient, is a 1981 graduate who began studying violin with her father, Arthur Montzka, at the age of three.  Throughout high school, she was the concertmaster and first violin in the SHS orchestra and the string quartet, and performed in the pit orchestras for musicals, swing choir, and madrigals.  Ann was concertmaster of the IMEA district orchestra and placed in the IMEA All-State Honors Orchestra. Ann earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree and Master of Music in Performance and Pedagogy at Northern Illinois University.  Ann started the Suzuki Violin Program at Sycamore High School in 1980, with support from the Sycamore Music Boosters.  Ann is currently Concertmaster for the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra and has held principal positions in the Rockford, Fox Valley and Illinois Valley Symphonies. She is Director of the Suzuki Method and of the NIU Community School of the Arts Suzuki Strings Program. Ann comments, “This is such a huge honor and I am thankful for this recognition.  I feel so blessed!”

Jeffrey Hepker, Legacy Award recipient, graduated Sycamore High in 1992. During high school, Jeffrey accompanied the concert choir, various vocalists, and music classes on the piano. He taught piano lessons to ten students and had them regularly perform in recitals.  Jeffrey holds two music degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Illinois and a Film Scoring degree from Berklee College of Music. He has composed for a wide variety of productions, including films, television programs, film trailers, production music libraries, DVD special features, the stage, and the concert hall. Recent works include scoring 8 one-hour Warner Bros. productions documenting the process of the making of the Harry Potter films, a theatrical trailer for the film Cowboys And Aliens, and multiple long–form “making of” featurettes for many of the recent Marvel films (Iron Man I and II, Thor, The Avengers). Jeffrey was quite honored with this award and comments, “I am so impressed with the growth of the music program and Music Boosters.  We didn’t have a music program like this when I was in high school.  It is truly an honor to be recognized in this manner.”

Ken Olson, Music Boosters President and Music Hall of Fame Committee member comments, “We are very grateful for the level of support offered by Tim Carlson and Kathy Countryman for the music program and the new Music Hall of Fame.  It was a great weekend for Sycamore High School, the Music Hall of Fame, the music program, and the entire community.”

This Music Hall of Fame includes four award categories, each of which will recognize different ways in which SHS alums and members of our community have contributed to the ongoing standards of excellence in our music programs. Nominations for any or all of these categories are now being collected for the next awards of 2014 with the submission deadline of August 1, 2013. More information, nomination forms, and instructions may be found on our newly updated web site at:

Sycamore Music Boosters would like to thank the following people for their hard work and dedication in making the Music Hall of Fame happen: Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson, Superintendent Kathy Countryman, Sycamore Music Boosters President Ken Olson, Music Hall of Fame Committee members Madelyn Anderson (Chair), Ken Olson, Bob Atkins, Tom Petit, and Jan Englum, Dawn Cavanaugh and Heide Phelps for display case design, Ken Tonaki, Scott Mertens and the Sycamore High School Music Department, Sycamore History Museum, and many others.

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