In 1981, the last year for New Trier West before merging with sister school New Trier East, Bill returned to join an alumni band in one final concert. Please go to the 1968 Band, on this website, read Bill’s Autobiographical Sketch go through the Scrapbooks, and listen to the first Jazz Ensemble recording made at New Trier West High School. It is part of the ‘Story That Needs To Be Told.’ (Want to contact Bill? Just go to the FAQ/Login/Contact TAB, then choose Contact Us and fill out the form and by writing a message to Bill. Your message will be forwarded to Bill, along with your email address, so that he may respond to you.)
In the Spotlight! Bill Kroeger 1968
There is obvious reason Bill Kroeger was chosen to be the first member to appear in this SPOTLIGHT.
Bill is to be acknowledged as an important founding force behind the origination of The New Trier West Jazz Ensemble.
In 1966, Bill found himself as a sophomore on the newly constructed New Trier West High School campus. As such there were no pre-existing musical groups, just an empty palette on which to begin his high school career. Bill and his trumpet were in search of a place to call home and he quickly turned to Roger Mills, at the time a new music instructor at New Trier West. Bill formulated an idea and asked him if he would help form a jazz combo. With an enthusiastic “Yes!” in his arsenal, Bill gathered a bunch of his buddies and with his director’s help began what evolved into a full-size jazz ensemble.
The evolution continued with performances at basketball games, and pep rallies, and before long their newly minted jazz ensemble was entered into local and regional high school music competitions. Steadily they began making a name for themselves, and New Trier West, all the while receiving first place awards from at various musical festivals.
The dedication of Bill, and his fellow students, quickly led to the group being compared to college level bands, which in turn boosted the already strong pride they had in their accomplishments.
At the beginning of Bill’s senior year, he was awarded the position of the New Trier Jazz Ensemble’s first Student Director. In that position he continued his leadership but in addition began working with younger students who would follow in his footsteps.
Bill did not recognize, at the time, what was to be the fate, or destiny, of a program that he had had such an important part in creating.
To this day Bill is still living his dream by playing monthly R&R gigs as a ‘weekend warrior’. Upon Bill’s graduation, he was awarded the highly coveted American Music Foundation Award, presented for ‘excellence in modern American music,’ and ‘for providing leadership and inspiration to others.’
Future members of the New Trier West Recording Jazz Ensembles have built upon Bill’s vision and have contributed to the development of an integrated Jazz Ensemble Program that continues today on New Trier’s combined campus, now located in Winnetka, Illinois.