It was an evening of celebrating the past as well as the present.
On May 21, London High School held its annual spring concert, highlighting the concert and show choirs, as well as the concert band. The choirs are led by Teri Gray, and the band is under the direction of Angela Fugate.
This year, in addition to displaying the vast musical talents of its current students, the evening provided the opportunity for those on hand to relive the rich tradition of the school district’s fine arts history.
London City Schools and London Music Boosters unveiled its inaugural class for the newly-developed Fine Arts Hall of Fame. The group was made up of former students and educators who have left their mark on London, the nation, and the world – and in many cases, on each other.
The inductees were introduced by current London High School students.
Joyce Hildebrand taught at LHS from 1967 to 1992, positively influencing generations in the areas of speech and theatrical arts. A local treasure, she is widely considered an icon of London Theatre. She was inducted by senior actor/singer Garrett Stout.
A world class saxophonist, Bob LeBeau has been playing at a high level for close to six decades. Multi-talented, LeBeau is in the LHS Athletic Hall of Fame and had an accomplished career in academia. He was inducted by freshman LHS band saxophone player Aaron Gates.
A self-taught musician, Bob Lukens played a number of instruments. He was part of the very first Script Ohio ever performed by the OSU Marching Band in the Fall of 1936. Represented by his sons Michael and Dale, the late Lukens was inducted by LHS band junior Hailey Huff.
Al Mancini spent years gracing the big and small screens, as well as the stage. Best known for his role as Tassos Bravos in the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ Mancini spent decades teaching others his acting craft at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Represented by his sister Rose Morse, the late Mancini was inducted by senior actress/singer Bailee Mayne.
An Emmy-winning writer/producer for ‘The Cosby Show,’ John Markus is greatly responsible for making the Huxtables one of the most treasured families in television history. He was the co-creator of the Cosby spin-off ‘A Different World.’ Markus was inducted by senior actor/singer Jack Spahn, who has an interest in film-making.
Chick McGee has risen from a small radio station in West Virginia to one with national exposure. McGee is a popular member of the syndicated ‘Bob and Tom Radio Show.’ During his acceptance speech, McGee credited fellow-inductee Hildebrand with putting him on his path to success. McGee was inducted by senior band member TJ Ruesch, a member of WLHS television show.
A top-notch performer and a high-class man, no one loved making music more than Clint Morse. Simply put, he was the true Music Man of London. Represented by his widow Rose, the late Morse was inducted by junior musician/actress Elizabeth Bennett.
Larry Peters has revolutionized his industry with his techniques now being used worldwide. If photography is an art, he is Rembrandt, Picasso and DiVinci rolled into one. Peters was inducted by his grandson, senior John Phillip Sousa award-winning band/choir member Hayden Conley.
While some people simply follow the beat, others establish it. The principal percussionist with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Phil Shipley has lent his rhythmic talents all over the world. Shipley was inducted by junior percussionist Devan Jones.
Like Diane Slagle does with the piano, mastering an instrument shouldn’t look this easy. For several decades Slagle has used the keyboard to accompany, lead, entertain and instruct. Slagle was inducted by sophomore Elena Richardson, one of her piano students.
On stage, Jim Smith has been seen as a Captain Hook, gambler Benny Southstreet, and yes, even as Cinderella’s evil stepmother. The history of London theatre can’t be written without dedicating a very entertaining chapter to him. Smith was inducted by his grandson, senior band member Clayton Geib.
A music educator at LHS from 1981 to 2005, Dave Trent challenged his bands to be great, and under his leadership they were. State Finals weren’t just a goal, they were an expectation, guiding them there a remarkable 18 times during his tenure. Trent was inducted by junior band member Alex Cox, whose father was directed by Trent.
The London Music Boosters will annually induct deserving individuals into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame, joining the long-established Academic and Athletics Halls of Fame for the district.
Jeff Gates is a contributing columnist for The Madison Press and an organizer of the London City Schools Fine Arts of Fame.