Jeffrey Haas, Director of Bands
Jeffrey G. Haas, has been Director of Bands at Ridgewood High School since 1988. He currently conducts the Wind Ensemble and co-conducts the Concert Band and Symphonic Band. He also directs the Jazz Lab Ensemble and Saxophone Ensemble, and coaches several chamber music ensembles. Between 1988 and 2001, he directed the RHS Marching Band, which won two USSBA circuit championships and two state championships under his direction. In 1997, the pit orchestra for the New Players production of "The Secret Garden" was recognized with the Paper Mill Playhouse "Rising Star" award for Outstanding Student Orchestra under his direction. He has also coached saxophone ensembles ranging from duos to quintets to six appearances at the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society's Young Musicians Concert between 2002 through 2015.
During the course of his long career at Ridgewood, Mr. Haas has been consistently recognized with awards for excellence in music education. In June of 1998, Mr. Haas received the Disney American Teacher Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing Arts, and he was named "North Jersey Music Educator of the Year" by William Paterson University that same year. In June of 2004, he was named as the Ridgewood High School recipient of the Ridgewood Teacher Recognition Award. In 2011, Mr. Haas was the New Jersey recipient of the "Directors Who Make a Difference" Award presented by School Band & Orchestra Magazine, and in 2013 he was a semi-finalist nominee for the first ever Grammy Music Educator Award. In 2015, Mr. Haas received the NJAJE Jazz Education Achievement Award and in 2016, he was named an “Outstanding Educator” by The Record.
Mr. Haas holds degrees in music education from Syracuse University (B.M., Cum Laude, Performance Honors) and Columbia University (M.A., Magna Cum Laude), and has done considerable graduate study in the areas of conducting and educational leadership.
Mr. Haas has served on the executive board of the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education since 1990, as President from 1997-1999, and currently as Vice President of that organization, chairing the annual jazz educators conference at NJPAC, and the professional development committee. He is also a past executive board member for the New Jersey Music Educators Association. Mr. Haas has served as conductor of the 1990 Region I Junior Jazz Ensemble, the 1995 Rockland County (NY) All County Band, and the 1996 Bergen County Band, the 2015 Region I Senior Jazz Ensemble, and has been a guest conductor with the Ridgewood Concert Band.
As a professional saxophonist, Mr. Haas has appeared with New York Voices, Rob McConnell, Freddie Hubbard, Bob Hope, and Vanessa Williams, and he has been a featured soloist with the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra and the Ridgewood Concert Band. He is the director of the Jazzmasters Big Band, a jazz ensemble consisting of music educators dedicated to promoting and preserving jazz music played in the big band tradition. He has presented several clinics and workshops on various aspects of music education at universities, conferences and conventions around the country. He is also an adjunct professor of jazz pedagogy at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.
Mr. Haas lives in Glen Rock, with his wife Cynthia, and their two daughters, Stefanie and Danielle.
John Luckenbill, Associate Director of Bands
Director of Marching Bands
Director of Brass Ensembles
John W. Luckenbill III has been the Associate Director of Bands at Ridgewood High School since the fall of 2011. He currently is the director of the Marching Band and brass ensembles, co-conducts the Symphonic Band and Concert Band, teaches 21st Century Music Production at RHS, and runs the RHS Recording Studio and Club. He also taught 5th grade instrumental music at Hawes Elementary School during his first 2 years teaching in Ridgewood. Originally from Shrewsbury, NJ, Mr. Luckenbill received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Michigan State University in the spring of 2011, and his Master of Music in Music Education from Kent State University in spring of 2016.
Since beginning at RHS, Mr. Luckenbill has brought the RHS Marching Band program to new heights; growing the membership from 81 to 116 students in 5 years, and recently earning a 2nd place finish at the 2018 USBands National Championships with the Cadets Award for Excellence. The band was also featured on CBS-WLNY TV’s morning show, “The Couch” during the fall of 2013. In 2016, Mr. Luckenbill was named a Positive Coaching Alliance “Double Goal Coach Award” winner (1 of only 50 in the United States) for his work with the marching band. The award is given to coaches who strive to win while also teaching life lessons through their activity.
During his time at Michigan State University, Mr. Luckenbill was in many performing ensembles offered through the University. He was a part of the Spartan Marching Band trumpet section where his peers selected him as trumpet section and squad leader for 3 years during his 5 years in the band. He also participated in the MSU Spartan Brass, the men’s and women’s basketball and hockey band, where he was section leader for 4 of his 5 years. Marching Band and Spartan Brass led him to travel with each team across the nation to 2 Final Fours and 4 bowl games. Mr. Luckenbill was principal trumpet of the MSU Symphony Band and performed with the MSU Wind Symphony. He performed with a scholarship brass quintet throughout his years at MSU, where they performed outreach concerts and recitals.
During high school, Mr. Luckenbill was selected as principal trumpet in the New Jersey All-State Wind Ensemble, as well as the Region II Wind Ensemble for 2 years. Mr. Luckenbill was also selected into the Hershey’s All-USA High School Band from 2004-2005.
Besides his work at RHS, Mr. Luckenbill also plays trumpet with many ensembles throughout New Jersey and can be found working as the substitute bugler at Monmouth Park Racetrack during the summer months. He most recently played for the 2015 Triple Crown winner’s, American Pharoah, winning race at the Haskell Invitational.
Mr. Luckenbill lives in Waldwick with his wife, Lisa, their two sons, William and Andrew, and their dog, Ruby.
Gary Fink, Director of Jazz and Percussion, Marching Band Sideline Percussion
Gary Fink is the director of Jazz and Percussion at Ridgewood High School. He founded the RHS Percussion Ensemble in 1986, which has become recognized as a superior group by nationally known clinicians and educators. The ensemble was chosen to be a part of the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center's Young Musicians Program from 1998 to 2011 and in 2019, the first and only percussion ensemble to receive that honor in the program's history. In 2001, the ensemble was selected to perform Minoru Miki's Marimba Spiritual on the nationally broadcast radio program "From The Top."
Mr. Fink has also directed the Percussion Ensemble at New Jersey City University from 2003-2005, the USSBA All Star Percussion Ensemble, NJ Region I High School Jazz Ensemble, has toured China as director of HYPE, and since 1992 has toured Europe as a xylophone soloist and director of the American Music Abroad Red Tour Percussion Ensemble. Mr. Fink was the Principal Percussionist for the Ridgewood Concert Band from 1984-2001. He was a founding member of the Ethos Percussion Group and has performed and conducted in the pit orchestra of over 155 musical productions. He has performed as a member of the Hunter Symphony, the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble and for the Pope at Giants Stadium. He studied music at Eastman School of Music and William Paterson College.
In 1998 and 2007, Mr. Fink was awarded a Teacher Recognition Certificate from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts. He has been directly involved with the revamping of percussion auditions for both NJ All-State Band and All-State Jazz Ensembles and is the Percussion Coordinator for both Music Educators of Bergen County (Bergen County Band), and the North Jersey School Music Association (Region I Band and Orchestra). Mr. Fink is a Yamaha Clinician for symphonic percussion and he also gives clinics and workshops on drumset. He has worked with students in the Region I Jazz Ensemble, Bergen County Band and the Region I Symphonic Band. He teaches Music Theory at RHS, Acoustics at William Paterson University and is also the director of the Encore Music Studio, the Ridgewood Community School's after school private music lesson program.
He is married to Deborah Gregory-Fink, the instrumental music teacher at Hawes School, and has two children, Griffin and Desiree.
Joe Bergen, Drumline Instructor & Arranger
Joe Bergen is a percussionist, educator, and composer active in the New York metro area. Joe has taught and arranged for the Ridgewood HS Marching Band drumline since 2012.
As a co-founder of Mantra Percussion ("superhuman..." New Yorker) and Transit New Music ("boldly surreal aural experience..." NY Times,) Joe has toured North America, Europe, and Asia performing some of the most interesting and compelling music of our time. Highlights include guest performer on the San Francisco Symphony "American Mavericks" series at Carnegie Hall, featured ensemble on the Percussive Arts Society 50th Anniversary Concert, and cited by the New Yorker for top ten performances of the year for Mantra Percussion's performance of Timber at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in NYC. Joe also performs extensively with the Cellar and Point, Experiments in Opera, and from 2007-2014 with Newband performing on Harry Partch's original microtonal instruments. He has given masterclasses, workshops, and recitals at many of the top schools in the country including Princeton, Manhattan School of Music, Yale, Eastman, Boston Conservatory, MIT, and NYU etc. Joe has recorded extensively for tv, radio, film, and video game soundtracks most notably playing percussion for the 2011 RockStar video game of the year; "Read Dead Redemption." He can be heard on several record labels including New Amsterdam, Cantaloupe, Cunieform, and New World Records.
A native of Ramsey NJ, Joe studied with RHS percussion director Gary Fink in high school, followed by studies with John Ferrari and Tom Kolor receiving his bachelor's degree in music from William Paterson University with additional studies from Gordon Gottlieb and Nancy Zeltsman.
In addition to performing with Mantra, Joe is the group's education director overseeing programs including; Mantra Youth Percussion ("ear-opening..." NY Times,) the Necessary Noise Festival, and Mantra's in-school residencies. Additionally, Joe is a Wolf Trap early education teaching artist and dance accompanist for New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the percussion director and in school specialist for the Rahway School District teaching percussion grades 4-12, and is an accomplished arranger and composer in the education world writing music for various music programs. He lives in West Orange with his wife and puppy Wolfie.
Elise McAloon, Drumline Instructor
Elise McAloon is an educator based in New Jersey. She studied Music Education with a percussion concentration at William Paterson University. During her time at William Paterson she has performed in several NJMEA conferences representing the University. She also performed a showcase concert with the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble at PASIC in 2018. Elise has done solo performances at the McCormick Marimba Festival and the Necessary Noise day of percussion. In addition to teaching the Ridgewood Drumline, Elise also teaches percussion for the Paterson Music Project.
Juan Herrera, Sideline Percussion Instructor
Juan Herrera is a freelance percussionist and educator based in New York City. An avid learner, Juan has studied and performed a number of world music styles including West African, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Cuban, Caribbean, Venezuelan, and many more. His playing has taken him from small bar gigs to international percussion conventions to Carnegie Hall. Along with teaching the Ridgewood High School Marching Band Sideline, Juan teaches percussion at Casita Maria, an after school program for students in the South Bronx, as well as private instruction. Juan recently received his Masters Degree in Percussion Performance from Queens College.
Will Ebbels, Assistant Marching Band Director
Will Ebbels is currently the 4th and 5th grade band director in Garfield, New Jersey. Will grew up in Ridgewood and graduated from RHS in 2007. He was a four year member of the marching band and served as Field Captain and Drum Major in his final two years. After graduating, Will had a brief stint at Marist College where he studied French. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a degree in Music Education and transferred to Montclair State University. As a tuba player, he was a member of many ensembles at MSU including the Wind Symphony, Tuba Euphonium Ensemble, and pit orchestra. Will developed a passion for conducting from his esteemed professors Dr. Thomas McCauley and Dr. Shelley Axelson. He graduated in 2015 with his Bachelor of Music.
From 2008 through 2010, Will was a member of the ten time DCI World Champion Cadets drum and bugle corps. He used that experience to come back to RHS and help with marching band as a visual technician. He has now been on staff in some capacity since 2008, and in the past ten years has increased his responsibilities to include not just visual aspects, but music, show planning, and the organization/coordination of the marching band program. He currently fills the role of the marching band's Assistant Director. He also works with Garfield and Kittatinny High School marching bands.
James Garde, Jazz Assistant, Marching Band Music/Visual Tech
James Garde was a member of the Ridgewood High School Marching Band from 1989 to 1992, and graduated from RHS in the spring of 1993. He graduated Magna cum Laude with a degree in Music Education from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1998. Since then, James returned to RHS to work with the Marching Band as a woodwind specialist, a marching and maneuvering instructor, assistant band director, and spent five years as the marching band director, from 2006-2010. James is also the staff music arranger and consultant for both the Midland Park High School and Indian Hills High School Marching Bands.
He is also looking forward to being involved with the Jazz Program at RHS again this year working with the sax sections, and can be seen in the area appearing with several rock groups, the New Jersey Saxophone Ensemble, the pit orchestras for several high school musical productions, and as a musician and volunteer with the Youth Ministry Program at Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River. James directs the band program in grades 4 through 8, and teaches the video production classes in the Carlstadt Public School in Carlstadt, NJ.
Henry Heyzer, Jazz Assistant, Marching Band Music/Visual Tech
Henry Heyzer joined the RHS faculty in 2005 as instructor and conductor of the Symphonic Band. Originally from Waldwick, NJ, Mr. Heyzer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education West Chester University in Pennsylvania, and a Master of Music degree in trombone performance from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
After receiving his B.S. degree, he moved to Washington DC, where he was a member of the United States Navy Band, performing at the White House and on national tours. While still in Washington, he performed at the Kennedy Center and the National Theatre. During 1979 through 1980 he was an original member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in the Republic of Singapore.
Henry has been doing a large amount of private instruction and performing with many local ensembles, and the Somers Dream Orchestra in particular. Over his playing career, Mr. Heyzer has studied with John Marcellus of the Eastman School of Music, Donald S. Reinhart, author of "The Pivot System for Brass Playing," and with many other major performers from the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony. Mr. Heyzer has been working with the RHS Marching Band and Jazz Ensembles since 1994.
Michael Klesch, Marching Band Music Arranger
Michael Klesch is an arranger and clinician for numerous marching bands across the country. In addition to arranging for Ridgewood High School he is the staff arranger for both the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band and the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band. His degrees come from West Chester University, a B.S. in Music Education, and from, the University of Massachusetts, a Masters in Music.
Mr. Klesch was a performer with the Garfield Cadets and finished out his career there as drum major of the 1983 DCI World Champions. After aging-out of drum corps in 1983, Mr. Klesch then serve on the Cadets brass staff in 1984 and as the brass arranger for the Cadets from 1985-1992 (World Champions in 1985, 1987, and 1990). He has served as brass arranger for the Phantom Regiment and Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and currently serves as the brass arranger and musical director for the World Champion Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps.
Alex Knox, Clarinet Ensemble
Patricia Lazzara, Flute Ensemble
Patricia Lazzara, flutist, has distinguished herself as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She is a three time winner of the Artists International competition in New York City and gave her critically acclaimed New York recital debut at Cami Hall. Patricia Lazzara has performed as soloist for the National Flute Association Professional Flute Choir and won first prize in the North Jersey Philharmonic Concerto Competition. Ms. Lazzara is a Miyazawa Flute Artist, (www.miyazawa.com), is the 2007 Winner of the Florida Flute Association Performers Grant for Advanced Study, presently studying with Keith Underwood and currently is a Twinz Records Recording Artist. She is a 2004 Winner of the National Flute Association Convention Performers Competition.
Ms. Lazzara has released two CDs for flute and harp entitled "Enchanted Love" and "Celestial Sounds of Christmas". Ms. Lazzara is a founding member of "UpTown Flutes", an innovative flute ensemble in residence at Drew University, Madison, NJ. Their sold out performance at Carnegie's Weill Hall in 2002 received a rave review from the New York Concert Review and they were invited to perform at The 2003 National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC.
The "UpTown Flutes" debut CD is entitled ''A Flute Renaissance'' followed by their holiday CD, "An UpTown Christmas" both edited by Patricia. UpTown Flutes' third CD "21st Century Gems" has recently been released.
Ms. Lazzara had the distinct honor of being the flute soloist for the Papal Visit to Giants Stadium in 1995 and is the Events coordinator of the New Jersey Flute Society. She is principal flutist with the Gateway Classical Music Society and the NJ State Opera and she also performs with the Garden State Philharmonic. She attended Carnegie Mellon University and received a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Hartt School of Music where she studied with John Wion, has appeared in master classes with Jean Pierre Rampal, Thomas Nyfenger, Robert Stallman, Trevor Wye and has coached with Jeanne Baxtresser, Michael Parloff and Bart Feller. She also studied with Paige Brook and David Williams. Ms. Lazzara is the Executive Director of “Music for Life”, a successful musical instruction program in parochial schools, is on the faculty of the the Encore Music Studio, Rockland Conservatory of Music and Ackerman's Music Center in addition to full studio of private students.
Ben Hankle, Jazz Assistant
Ben Hankle has been a freelance trumpeter in the NYC area since the late 90’s. As a youth he was principal trumpet of the NY Youth Symphony and the NJ All-State Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. His career has included Broadway, jazz, and orchestral performances, as he currently subs in the orchestra of the hit Broadway show Chicago, leads his own jazz quintet, and performs with many of the best bands including, the Joe Elefante Big Band, the Mike Lee Big Band, and the George Gee Big Band.
Ben has had the opportunity to perform and/ or record with such artists as Arturo Sandoval, Louie Bellson, Gladys Knight, Phil Smith, Tierney Sutton, Rufus Reid, Wynton Marsalis, and Buddy DeFranco. Ben is a graduate of the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers) having received his MM in Jazz Performance in 2011. He teaches trumpet through the Encore Music Studio.
Color Guard/Winter Guard/Twirlers
Jake Montanaro began his Color Guard Career at 15 years old at Floral Park Memorial High School in Long Island, NY. He has competed in the Winter Guard International A and Open classes, the Drum Corps Associates Open class, and has spent the past 5 years in Drum Corps International World Class. He is the current Captain of The Cadets of Bergen County Color Guard. Jake is the Director of the Floral Park Memorial High School Color Guard and the Ridgewood High School Color Guard, Choreographer and design consultant at The Mineola High School Winter Guard, and is a guest choreographer at Arthur L Johnson High School. Outside of Color Guard Jake is working towards his BFA Dance Performance degree at Montclair State University where he has had the pleasure to perform works by Alwin Nikolais, Bill T Jones, Kathleen Kelley, Lori Katterhenry, and Earl Mosley. Jake is currently working on his second run of “Ajijaak on Turtle Island” by Heather Henson and Ty Defoe, and will be performing at New Victory Theater in Manhattan this coming March (2019).
Patti Wojtowicz has been a proud member of the RHS Marching Band staff since 1978. She has a masters degree in educational psychology and is a career development specialist with the Bergen County Special Services / Technical School District. Patti is a member of the visual staff and specializes in baton twirling. She instructs the RHS indoor twirling program.
Patti is the president of the NJ Twirling Council of the United State Twirling Association and is a certified level 2 judge. She is the director of the Illumination Twirlers. Her students hold individual and team championships at the state, regional and national level and have gone on to excel as feature twirlers in college. Patti lives in Ho-Ho-Kus with her husband Sam and daughter Catherine.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Ingrid Jensen has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1989, she went on to record three highly acclaimed CDs for the ENJA record label, soon becoming one of the most in-demand players on the global jazz scene. After playing and teaching in Europe in the early 90s, Ingrid settled in New York City where she joined the Grammy-nominated and winning big bands of Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue, as well as leading her own quintet, quartet and organ trio. Most recently Ingrid has been performing with the Grammy-winning Terri-Lyne Carrington and her Mosaic project, and the Juno-award winning Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra.
Jensen is a dedicated jazz educator, having taught trumpet at both the University of Michigan and Peabody Conservatory and filling guest artist positions with prestigious University and professional big bands around the world. She was the youngest professor in the history of the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, where she served as trumpet professor in the jazz department in her early twenties. She is currently on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and Purchase College of Music, both in New York. She has also been a regular guest director with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, serving as mentor and leader of the all-star high school groups which tour the US on jazz outreach missions.
Some of her many performances and recordings include playing with Clark Terry, Esperanza Spalding, Lionel Hampton, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Dianne Reeves, Branford Marsalis, Sarah McLachlan, the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall with the New York Women’s Orchestra and Rufus Reid’s Quiet Pride project. She has also been a guest artist with many prestigious Universities and Colleges including the Berklee College of Music, Dartmouth College, Temple University, the Paris Conservatory, and USC.
Jensen has toured with her own quartets in Australia, South Africa, almost every country in Europe, across Canada, the US, South America (including Brazil, Peru, and Chile), Japan, Mexico, and many other areas, receiving rave reviews and a strong and loyal fan base.
Ingrid plays a custom Monette trumpet, built personally by the master builder Dave Monette.
See Youtube (Ingrid Jensen + trumpet) for recent live productions and interviews, and www.ingridjensen.com for more touring dates and other information.
The RHS Band Program has a long history of bringing some of the nation's finest solo musicians into the classroom and onto the performance stage with the students. Since 1989, the bands have performed with dozens of renowned artists, teachers and clinicians both in Ridgewood and on tour. Past guest artists have included Shelly Berg, Paul Cohen, Murray Colosimo, David Demsey, Karen Demsey, Denis DiBlasio, Andy Fusco, Conrad Herwig, Jeff Jarvis, Ingrid Jensen, Kristin Korb, Darmon Meader, Scott Mendoker, Marvin Stamm, Byron Stripling, Phil Wilson, Alison Crossley, David Stryker, David Stevens, Wayne Bergeron, Donald Batchelder, Tom "Bones" Malone, Anthony Mazzocchi, SSgt Rachel Hertzberg, RJ Kelly, Mark Friedman, Andy Martin, and Vincent Gardner among others. This year, the RHS Band is happy to welcome Jerry Vivino as our guest artist for Jazz in the Wood.