Congratulations to all our graduating seniors from the class of 2016!
Several of these talented young grads will be performing at tonight's Senior Recital at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of the First Congregational Church of Western Springs. Join us for a beautiful concert!
Jeremy Ahn is a graduating senior from Naperville North High School. Throughout his academic career, he has pursued a passion for music through cello as well as other instruments including piano, trumpet and trombone. For many of his years in Middle and High school, Jeremy has played in the band and jazz bands and ensembles at his schools, often switching between trumpet and trombone based on the particular year. He has also had countless opportunities in cello, including playing in a masterclass with Yo-yo Ma, in his schools Symphonic Orchestra, and in Cellissimo. Furthermore, Jeremy has participated in piano festivals and competitions, and has even recently won the concerto competition at his school. For such an accomplishment, Jeremy was able to give a memorable performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto in a minor 1st movement. In addition to music, Jeremy has been heavily involved in his church, leading the praise team and audio/visual teams each week in addition to going on annual mission trips to Montana. Next semester, Jeremy will be headed to Andrews University in Michigan to study Mechanical Engineering and Music (Piano).
Hannah Cheng is a recent graduate of Naperville North High School and will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue a major in Advertising. She started playing viola at the age of 10, and has been very fortunate to be a student of Janis Wittrig for 6 years. She is very glad that she let viola be a substantial part of her high school career, and she thanks Ms. Wittrig and her high school orchestra director for showing her how wonderful making music really is.
Hailey Donovan lives in Western Springs and is a 2016 graduate of Lyons Township High School. She began playing the viola at the age of 9, taking her first private lessons at the American Music Institute in
Hinsdale. She has studied with Rolando Freitag at the Western Springs School of Talent Education for the past five years. She is grateful to Mr. Freitag for his patience – and feels that her playing ability has developed greatly as a result of his teaching.
In high school, Hailey has played with the Symphony and Concert Orchestras, and for the past two years has been a member of Sinfonietta, LT’s Honors Orchestra. She traveled to France in March of 2015 with the combined LT Orchestras, where the group performed in Blois, Arromanches, Caen and Paris.
Hailey has auditioned and has been selected to play with the Illinois Music Educators Association District Orchestras many times since grade school. In 2016 she played with the State Orchestra and was named an All-State Musician. She played with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Accelerando Strings for two years. During the summers she has attended the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Program, the Interlochen Viola Institute and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.
Hailey will be attending the College of DuPage, where she will begin her studies in Engineering. She plans to continue her playing with the College of DuPage Symphony Orchestra.
Bella Masterson is graduating from Northside College Prep this Spring. She has been playing violin for twelve years under the direction of teachers Edward Kreitman, Thomas Wermuth, and Sam Sharp, and would like to thank them all so much for their time and for . She loved traveling to China as a member of Allegro!!! Performing Strings Ensemble for three years and to Greece as a member of The Chicago Consort for three years. As a member of the Northside Prep Advanced Chamber Strings, she has performed with Kishi Bashi, as a quartet member for a Beatles tribute band, and in state and regional competitions. In school, she runs cross country and is President of French Honor Society. Outside of school, she works as a teen curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art and runs her own nonprofit program, TACO (Teen Artist's Creative Oasis) devoted to creating space for diverse youth artists, poets, and musicians to display and perform their work.
Bella will be attending the University of Pennsylvania next school year, double majoring in Cinema Studies and Art History. She plans to play violin in the Penn Symphony Orchestra.
Amelia Smerz lives in Downers Grove, IL., where she is a 2016 graduate of Downers Grove North High School. She is 17 years old and began playing the cello at the age of 5. Amelia has studied with Sally Gross at the Western Springs School of Talent Education for 10 years. She has also worked with Alex Revol as a chamber music coach, summer teacher, and as a co-leader of Cellissimo. As the final founding member of Cellissimo to be graduating, Amelia has loved being a part of this cello
ensemble since it’s inception. Under Sally’s guidance, Amelia has performed as a concerto soloist with the West Suburban Youth Orchestra and participated extensively at the Suzuki Conventions in Minneapolis, Mn. Amelia has also studied with Jon Pegis, cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She has played in concerts and recitals throughout the US, Canada, and China. She has been a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras program since 6th grade where she has been an active
participant in the Chamber Music, Encore Chamber Symphony, community outreach programs, as well as principal of the Symphony, Concert and Debut orchestra’s cello sections.
During her summers she has attended Interlochen Center for the Performing Arts, Credo Chamber Music Festival, and Meadowmount School of Music. She has been very active in her school music program where she has been a member of the Symphony Orchestra’s Honors program for four years. She also participated in the Marching Band and Jazz Ensemble on trombone. She has been selected each year to participate in the Illinois Music Educators Association District and State Orchestras as
well as the ILMEA District Jazz ensemble. She has received numerous honors for cello as well as jazz trombone. This past month, she was awarded the Downers Grove Music Club College Scholarship, and was also recognized as the Downers Grove North High School’s Outstanding Senior from the Fine Arts Department.
In 2015 Amelia performed at Carnegie Hall with a select faculty and alumni ensemble from Community High School District 99. She was also selected to work under the baton of Ricardo Muti as part of the Chicago Youth in Music Festival in 2015 and 2016. As the cellist of the principal players quartet from the Chicago Youth Symphony, she has competed in several competitions and performed the National
Anthem and half-time show at the Chicago Bulls game. The quartet was most recently recognized at the Arts Club of Chicago.
She will be performing a full length solo recital this August 6 at the Congregational Church in Downers Grove before she heads to DePauw University where she will be a student in their Honors Scholar liberal arts program with a major in music performance and entrepreneurship.
Amelia is tremendously grateful to Sally for the many years of hard work and growth together and all the wonderful opportunities. She is also very thankful to Alex and Melissa for their added knowledge and guidance. She will miss her home away from home at WSSTE but will enjoy being an alum and visiting in the future.
Ted Steinmeyer is a senior at Fenwick High School and will be attending Northwestern University next fall to study Economics and Political Science. He has been playing the violin for fifteen years and has studied under Nancy Jackson and Thomas Wermuth. During this period, Ted has also been given the opportunity to perform with Allegro!!! and the Chicago Consort, experiences for which he is incredibly grateful. Aside from playing the violin, Ted enjoys competing with the Fenwick Debate Team and was the 2016 IHSA State Champion for Lincoln Douglas Debate. Ted is looking forward to the experiences ahead in college, but will certainly miss practicing and performing with his friends at WSSTE.
Abigail Teska is a recent graduate of Mother of Divine Grace School where she was a member of the Pope Leo XIII Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Abigail has been playing violin for the past thirteen years and is grateful to both Sarah Torrenga and Thomas Wermuth for providing such amazing music instruction. She enjoyed participating in Allegro!!! Strings Performance Ensemble for two years and in Chicago Consort for three years. Travelling to Greece last summer with Consort was certainly a highlight for Abigail.
In her free time, Abigail enjoys oil painting, drawing, crocheting, weaving, felting, and crafting. During her high school years, Abigail was fortunate to participate in two art internships. At the Brigantine
Gallery and Art Academy, she assisted the owner with many aspects of the gallery’s painting events and classes. Her other internship was at TLD Design Center and Gallery where Abigail helped in the
completion of artwork, interacted with design center students, and assisted at fine art shows. Abigail
won numerous awards in the Mother of Divine Grace School’s annual art contests.
Abigail was also an active volunteer in her community. She was very involved at St. Isaac Jogues Church
where she was a team leader for the Cornerstone Youth Ministry, an organization involved in a variety
of ministries. She also led retreats for junior high students. Abigail also volunteered at a memory loss
facility, where she assisted residents suffering with dementia by engaging them in conversation,
encouraging physical activity, and leading craft projects and games.
Abigail will be attending Hillsdale College in the fall. While she is unsure of her major at this time, she
plans to continue her interests in music and art by taking private violin lessons, playing in the College’s
orchestra and ensembles, and taking art classes.
Kevin has been playing violin for fifteen years, taught by Meg Lanfear and Thomas Wermuth. Graduating from Naperville Central High School, Kevin enjoys running, app development, and eating in his free time. He feels honored and very grateful to all the music instructors he's worked with, as well as memorable experiences in Allegro!!! and the Chicago Consort. Kevin has no idea what he wants to do with his life, but he plans on exploring his career and major options at the University of Chicago.