MUSKEGON HIGH SCHOOL
Alumni with ties to Music
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Everett D. Kisinger
University of Illinois
Associate Director of Bands and Director of the
Marching Illini, Kisinger joined the staff in 1948.
Working hand-in-hand with Director of Bands Mark H.
Hindsley they "developed the pageantry of the
football halftime show in pre-computer times through
a system that would be imitated by nearly every
college marching band around the country."
Kisinger was born in Battle Creek, MI in 1914.
As a teenager, the family moved to Muskegon and Kisinger graduated from Muskegon High School in 1931.
While in high school, he attended the National Music
Camp at Interlochen, where he played under the baton
of Joh Philip Sousa.
attended the University of Michigan where he earned
his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
A student of Michigan band director, William D. Revelli,
Kisinger's career as director of music included stops in
Grandville, Grand Haven and Holland. Serving as
director of Instrumental Music Department for Holland
Public Schools, he also served as chairman of music
event for the
Holland Tulip Festival
While at Illinois, Kisinger and Hindsley devised an
approach to chart a marching band's formation.
Using a minimalist
model to represent the University's Memorial Stadium,
"Kisinger arranged small screws representing
each...bandsmen on a scale gridiron," notes the
Illinois Bands website, "and checked the
fans’ viewing angle by sighting down a model of the
stands. From the resulting sketch each bandsman
marked his music so he could move to the proper spot
on the field without a special signal."
The result was spectacular. Kisinger lead the Marching
Illini during their 1952 and 1965 Rose Bowl
appearances. He guided the band as the marched
in the second presidential inaugural parade for
Dwight Eisenhower in 1957. During his tenure he also
initiated the University's Alumni Band.
from the University in 1976 and passed away in 1990.
His son Bill followed in his father's
footsteps, served as Associate Director of the
"All-American" Marching Band at Purdue University.
Upon his retirement, he was honored with a single
word addition to the band's
A 1951 graduate of Muskegon High,
Versalle climbed to the
pinnacle of vocal music, reaching the stage of New
York's Metropolitan Opera House.
Versalle received his start in music as a member
of the MHS A Cappella choir under the direction of John
DeHorn. Performing as a member of the "Cosmops"
- the Cosmopolitan Men's Choir, his rich tenor was
well-known in West Michigan.
In 1976, at the age of 42, Versalle moved to
Chicago to launch his professional career in opera. After a stint
with the Chicago Lyric Opera, he moved to New York to
further his study.
A opportunity to join an opera
company in Dusseldorf, Germany enhanced his reputation
in music circles throughout Europe. His climb was
swift, and he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New
York City in December 1978, singing the minor role in
Returning to Europe, he continued enhance his
reputation and in 1992, he
returned to New York at the request of the Metropolitan
Opera, singing Tannhäuser.
His career would end tragically on the stage the Met
year later. At age 63, Versalle suffered a heart
attack, fell from a ladder and died during the premiere
"The Makropulos Case."
describes himself as "a professional listener."
One of the great rock producers of all-time, he has
worked with the Eagles, the Who, Bob Seger, Joe
Walsh, B.B. King and numerous other bands during a career
that dates back to 1964. A 1960 graduate of
Muskegon High School, Szymczyk joined the U.S. Navy at
age 18, and was chosen to become a sonar operator.
"I guess I had pretty good ears," said Szymczyk in a
2004 article in Sound On Sound magazine, "because in the
next six months they crammed about three years' worth of
college-level electronics knowledge into me."
Following four years in the service, Szymczyk planned to
attend school at New York University. While
waiting for the fall semester, he landed a job interview
with Don Charles Recording in New York, set up by a
friend. Instantly, he was introduced to the music
By 1968, he had become a staff producer for ABC
Records. In 1969, he produced "The Thrill is Gone"
with B.B. King. In 1970, he moved with his family
to Los Angeles, then Colorado, working with the James
Gang, Walsh, the J. Geils Band, and Rick Derringer along
Chosen to give the
Eagles a more "rock and roll" sound, on their third
album, "On The Border," he continued to work
with the band through their career. While he officially
retired in 1990 to focus on his family, he still
is involved in the industry, working most recently with Verve Pipe lead
singer Brian Vander Ark.
graduation from Muskegon High School in 1994, Miller
attended Western Michigan University where he performed
as lead trombonist in 1995 and 1996 in the
Grammy-nominated Western Jazz Orchestra. In 1997, he
enlisted in the United States Army where he
participated in special Major Area Command (MACOM)
In 1999, Miller moved to the Caribbean and played on the
"Sensation" and "Inspiration" Carnival Cruise ships,
before enrolling at Grand Valley State University.
Graduating in 2004, with a Bachelor of Music Education
degree, he has freelanced in the Muskegon, Grand Rapids,
Lansing, Kalamazoo area, and has performed with Jimmy
Dillon and the Lyon Street Horns, 10,000 Maniacs,
Orquesta Ritmo, Big House Blues Band, Evidence, Groove
Solution, and Four Finger Five.
Gunnery Sergeant Christopher
graduation from Muskegon High School, Jager matriculated to
University of Michigan where he played cornet for under
director William Revelli. Jager then served as the Staff
Arranger/Composer at the Armed Forces School of Music
from from 1962 to 1965. For the next 30 years, he
taught at Tennessee Tech University, Along
the way, he built an outstanding reputation as a
composer and international lecturer, and is credited
with over 140 published works of music. His is the only
three-time winner of the American Bandmasters
Association "Ostwald Award." His 1984 comission,
Esprit de Corps
is well-known and beloved.
1982 graduate of Muskegon High School, Haglund earned a
bachelor's degree in music from Western Michigan
University. Named band director at Garden City High
School in 1991-92 before moving on to Northern Michigan
University in Marquette as trumpet instructor and
director of bands. Haglund joined "The President's
Own" Marine Band in July 1992 as a Trumpeter/Cornetist.
accomplished educator, musician and clinician, Watson is
a 1994 graduate of Muskegon High School "where he
developed his skills while performing with the Jazz,
Marching and Concert Bands." His band, the Derico Watson
Group, has opened for James Brown, Spyro Gyra,
Nelson Rangell and Earth, Wind and Fire. Watson has
toured or recorded with a wide range of artists,
including with Dr. Marvin Sapp, the Jeff Coffin
Mu'Tet, Stacie Orrico, Victor Wooten, Felix Pastorius,
Kirk Franklin, Beverly Crawford, Prasanna. He
currently resides in Nashville, TN.
member of the “The President’s Own” United States Marine
Band from Muskegon High School, Smith joined in
July 2000. A 1994 graduate of MHS, Smith attended
Western Michigan University earning a bachelor’s degree
in music performance, followed by graduate studies at
the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
Smith has performed with the West Shore Symphony
Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Symphony and the Rochester N.Y.
extended member of the Muskegon's musical Allen family,
Ronald is a 2005 graduate of Muskegon. Quickly
earning a reputation as an outstanding drummer and
bass player, Allen has played and/or recorded with
established artists Lalah Hathaway (daughter of soul
legend Donnie Hathaway) and Chaka Khan.
Born in Grand
Rapids, Grostic graduated from MHS in 1997. A math
and physics major at Kalamazoo College, where he also
played in the jazz and symphonic bands, earning the
Lillian Pringle Baldauf Prize as top music student in
2001. While working as a paraprofessional at a
behavioral mental health treatment center for
adolescents in Colorado, Grostic performed in the
Jeffco Brass Ensemble. After two years, Chris
returned to Michigan to enroll at Law School at the
University of Michigan. Following graduation in 2006,
Grostic joined the Civil Division of the Department of
Justice, working as a trial attorney in
1924 graduate of Muskegon, Moore later
served as director of the Marine Band at Shanghai,
||A former Drum
Major at Muskegon, Hannett has served as Band Director
at the Tri-Valley Academy, as Instructional Assistant at
the Wesley School and as the Assistant Band Director at
the Muskegon Heights Public School.