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VanderCook College of Music

Ray Forlenza Distinguished Alumni

Ray Forlenza (BMEd ’85 & MMEd ’93) received the VanderCook Distinguished Alumni Award at the 2021 Alumni Reception during the Midwest Clinic. Nominations for the award are collected from previous recipients and voted on by the members of the Alumni Board. This award recognizes alums who have distinguished themselves in the field of music education. The certificate reads…


          Ray Forlenza has distinguished himself as a respected and outstanding professional in the field of music education. 

          The alumni association recognizes his support of the college, the inspirational impact made in the lives of his students, 

          and the honor brought to  VanderCook College of Music by upholding its long-standing tradition of excellence.


 In addition to Ray’s illustrious teaching career, he continues to contribute to his community as the conductor of the Southwest Community Concert Band in Orland Park, IL. His D140 Band Parents commissioned a piece to honor his retirement. Infinite Wonders was composed by Willie Owens (BMEd ’85). Willie is also a past recipient of the VanderCook Distinguished Alumni Award. The two are pictured below.


Willie and Ray

His son, Nick Forlenza, a current VanderCook senior, is following in his footsteps and thriving at VanderCook. Nick has taken full advantage of what VanderCook has to offer. He has applied the skills he is learning as a teacher with our kids in the One City Jazz Program and serves as the music educators student organization president. Nick has recently marched with a special band in a historic first, honoring music educators in the Tournament of Roses Parade, and performed at Carnegie Hall with other VanderCook students under the direction of our own Dr. Robert Sinclair.



List of Distinguished Alumni Recipients

1962-Ernest O. Caneva
1963-Dr. William D. Revelli
1964-Guy F. Foreman
1965-Walter H. Dyett
1966-Albert R. Casavant                                  1967-Colonel Harold Bachman
1968-Martha E. Elder
1969-Dr. Gilbert E. Wilson
1970-Dr. H. E. Nutt
1971-Forrest L. Buchtel
1972-Haskell W. Harr                          
1973-John H. Beckerman                       
1974-Merle J. Isacc                                   
1975-Clifford P. Lillya                                 
1976-Richard E. Brittian                          
1977-George Zafros
1978-Victor W. Zajec
1979-Clarence Gates (Posthumous)
1980-Harold Luhman
1981-William J. Carrol (Posthumous)
1982-Robert B. Vezzetti
1983-Albert J. Castronova
1984-Edgar P. Thiessen
1985-Laurie Neeb
1986-Charles Bradley (Posthumous)
1987-James E. Clark
1988-Lewis Schmidt
1989-Theodore Paschedag
1990-Adeline Anderson
1991-Mike Davis
1992-James R. Murphy (Posthumous)
1993-Henry P. Vander Linde
1994-Herman Knoll
1995-Harris Bergh
1996-Donald Wilkes
1997-Fred Lewis
1998-Ruth Rhodes
1999-Arcadio Guajardo
2001-George Pierard
2002-Michael Scleicher
2004-Donna Wirth
2005-John Marshall
2006-Carmen Rivera Kuban
2007-Cindy Swan Eagan
2008-Steven Humphrey
2009-Elizabeth Thorton
2010-Paul Finchbaugh
2011-Brian Logan
2012- Dennis Hayslett
2013 – Constance Donnelly
2014 – Willie Owens
2015 – Stacey Dolan
2016 – Mary Land
2017 – Michael Eagan
2018  – Dennis Ewing
2019  – Clifford Gabor
2021 – Ray Forlenza

The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

© 2022 VanderCook College of Music. All Rights Reserved.
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