Fine Arts @ DGN Mission

North High School endeavors to provide an enriching, vibrant, multidisciplinary environment for the study, creation, and presentation of the Fine Arts.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

DGN Rehearsal Halls Named To Honor Influential Music Educators

Three music classrooms at Downers Grove North High School have been named to honor the teachers who dedicated their teaching careers to the District 99 community and led the band, choir and orchestra programs to regional and national recognition. 



Mr. William Pohlmann was the first Choral Music teacher in District 99. Mr. Pohlmann was regarded by many, throughout the state of Illinois, as one of the leading scholars and musicians in the field of music education. Mr. Pohlmann's influence is still, to this day, highly influential within the District 99 community. He composed the original words and music that became the Downers Grove (North) High School Alma Mater, a piece that has been learned by thousands of students and is performed annually at school concerts, sporting events, and Graduation.


 Current DGN Choir members outside Pohlmann Hall - Downers Grove North High School


Mr. Clarence J. Shoemaker was the very first director of instrumental music in District 99, and founded the Downers Grove High School Band in 1929. Over the span of his tenure he developed one of the most revered band programs in the entire State of Illinois as he was considered a pioneer in the field of music education. His bands consistently won regional and national honors, bringing unparalleled positive accolades to the Downers Grove community. Just four years after founding the Band the ensemble performed at the 1933 'A Century of Progress' World's Fair.

In addition to being actively involved in the Illinois Music Educators Association as an officer, Mr. Shoemaker was a close professional colleague of Mr. Glenn C. Bainum, Director of Bands at Northwestern University. The incredibly high quality of musicianship consistently demonstrated by the Downers Grove High School Band under Mr. Shoemaker's leadership garnered invitations from Mr. Bainum for the Downers Grove High School Band to perform alongside the Northwestern University Symphonic Band at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston.

Mr. Shoemaker devoted his entire teaching career to District 99, choosing to live in the community and raise his own children in the school district. He retired from District 99 in 1963, and later served as the director of the North Central College Band for six years.

Upon his passing in 1988, at the age of 84, Mr. Shoemaker's family created a scholarship fund in the name of Clarence Shoemaker for the purpose of sending student musicians to summer music camps. The Shoemaker Scholarship, which is now managed by District 99, continues to support student musicians each year as they pursue their artistic passion. 


Current DGN Band members outside Shoemaker Hall - Downers Grove North High School

Mr. John C. Svoboda was hired in December of 1950 to fill the open position of Orchestra Director in District 99. Until this time there had been a steady turn-over of string orchestra teachers in the community; his immediate predecessor resigned mid-year. Mr. Svoboda was able to bring the orchestra together and perform for the annual holiday concert in a two-week span. From that moment forward, the quality of the orchestra was transformed into one of the most revered programs in the region and State of Illinois.


In 1968, while serving as the Coordinator of Instrumental Music in District 99, Mr. Svoboda was named by his colleagues in the Illinois Music Education Association to be the Conductor of the Illinois All-State Orchestra at an international performance in Dijon, France. Mr. Svoboda also served the ILMEA as Orchestra Division President.

Mr. Svoboda was considered by all who had the pleasure to work with and learn from him to be a true gentleman and consummate professional. His passion for arts education was known throughout the region and his positive influence on the education landscape in the State of Illinois was truly significant.

Mr. Svoboda retired from teaching - and District 99 - in 1977. However his final visit to the orchestra podium was on May 22, 2013 when - at the age of 91 - he guest conducted the District 99 Orchestra in concert (with his grandson, Thomas Svoboda playing string bass in the ensemble). 

"Mr. Music," as he was affectionately known by many in the community, passed away in 2015. He was 93 years old.

Current District 99 Orchestra members outside Svoboda Hall - Downers Grove North High School