Alan Spigelman (1972, 1973, 1974) Tenor Saxophone
Autobiographical Sketch

Alan Spigelman at Montreux

I grew up loving music. Classical, rock, jazz, or any other genre, I truly enjoyed. I started playing the oboe in third grade but quickly moved to saxophone when I realized, in sixth grade, that the oboe was not the most utilized jazz instrument. I subsequently enjoyed playing tenor saxophone in my junior high jazz band.

When I was a freshman, at New Trier West High School, and I first heard the Jazz Ensemble, I was absolutely blown away by their performance. That single experience caused me to focus on getting better, and also on getting a better tenor saxophone. I practiced as much as I could, and I looked forward to the Lab Jazz Ensemble rehearsals. All of the elements of the Jazz Ensemble Program became my passion while in high school.

I was fortunate to be promoted to the Jazz Ensemble in 1971-1972. I was awed, and inspired, by the more advanced senior musicians. I really could not believe what amazing music we could produce. That year the band worked toward accepting an invitation to compete at the Montreux International Jazz Competition. Touring throughout Europe, with the Jazz Ensemble, was my first trip abroad. It was a truly enriching experience and was highlighted by our performance at the Montreux, Switzerland Jazz Festival. That was an unforgettable event; ending our concert with MacArthur Park, while in the audience. That had become a New Trier West Jazz tradition, and you could just feel the love and excitement of the audience. It was spectacular! And our Jazz Ensemble winning first place in the competition, voted the entire festivals most ‘exciting band,’ along with the band receiving nine solo awards, was something one could never forget.

My last 2 years in Jazz Ensemble were the highlights of my high school days. I loved the associations I formed with the other musicians, particularly Jeff Tritsch (piano). Jeff and I were best friends throughout high school. We both loved music and science. We lived about a half block away from one another. He was a brilliant student who also had perfect pitch. We pushed each other to get better and had many of the same goals. We both went on to medical school and roomed together for a few years. We both became Ophthalmologists. Even when I moved to Detroit, we continued to stay in touch and saw each frequently. Unfortunately, Jeff got an aggressive form of brain cancer and passed away when he was forty. I continue to remember the good times Jeff and I shared. I also appreciate all the hard work our teachers put into to helping us achieve our potential. Roger Mills, our director, in particular, exemplified those principles. He led by example in always doing his utmost.

Jazz Ensemble brought the best out of me. I learned, from that experience, that hard work leads to success and to achievement. I have brought those values into my life and have tried to pass them on to my family.

Alan Spigelman