One More Performance for Music Department Alumni


Photo by Jennifer Simmons

Samantha Simmons plays the saxophone for the last time at Kaneland.


On May 20th, 2019, 16 new Kaneland music department alumni gathered in the auditorium to perform a song of their choice as a farewell to their music careers at Kaneland High School. Michelle Areyzaga, a class of 1989 alumni was also brought back to be inducted into the hall of fame.


Michelle Areyzaga is a graduate who came back to be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame for to her achievements in music. In the 30 years that followed Areyzaga’s departure from Kaneland High School she has performed operatic roles with New York City Opera in Telemann’s Orpheus as well as in their VOX series, and has appeared in leading roles with Chicago Opera Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s In the Neighborhoods programs, Opera Birmingham, Ravinia Festival, and Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México. She is most associated with the music of Leonard Bernstein and the way she is able to bring his music to life on stage. She toured the show Bernstein on Broadway together with Leonard’s daughter jaime for six years, performing it with the Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival. She still performs it in Las Vegas from time to time. She also received Artist of the Year by Pioneer Press along with many other awards.


Following a performance by Areyzaga of “Simple Song” by Leonard Bernstein Bryanna Kigyos took the stage as the first of the new graduates to perform on stage. One by one seniors came and left the stage as they performed one last time on the Kaneland auditorium stage. Performances varied from singing to instrumental solos to a drum group playing a song on everyday objects found in the school.


“I feel that it gives each of the seniors an opportunity to finish their high school music careers by signing or playing a song that they are truly passionate about. It is the perfect ending to a long journey,” said Kaneland graduate Samantha Simmons.


Performances were followed by an award ceremony where all attending music department graduates, no matter if preforming or not, went up individually to receive an award by either Band Director Aaron Puckett or Choir Director Bryan Kunstman. Three graduates were voted on by peers and received separate awards in achievement of greatness in Jazz, Band, and Choral.


“It gave use a close from our time in the music program,” said graduate Blaine Betustak.