Saint Viator’s new band director, Mr. Sam Pilnick, brings solid professional experience to the role. He’s a performer and recording artist, who often writes his own music for his various ensembles and solo work. And he plays a mean saxophone.
But underscoring all of his accomplishments is his background as a music teacher. Prior to coming to Saint Viator, Mr. Pilnick was the band director at the Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park from 2017 - 2020, as well as a teacher for the People’s Music School and Chicago Public School’s All City Performing Arts Jazz Ensemble. He also taught band and jazz for the last two years at Maple Middle School in Northbrook.
As he starts his second semester at Saint Viator, we caught up with Mr. Pilnick to find out more about him and what he and his band students have coming up.
Q. As a performer and recording artist yourself, how do you bring that into your role as band director?
A. From my experiences, my favorite and best teachers were also great performers in their own right. These teachers were always on top of their game and provided my peers and me with first hand experiences of what music should sound like at the highest level -- and what we all go through to get there (whether or not we want to be professionals). I want to make sure that I am on top of my musical game so that I too can be able to get the best sounds from our bands!
Q. It looks like your own group is based in modern jazz and some big band influences. Have you brought that to the Saint Viator band?
A. I am fortunate to perform not only my own original music, but the original music of some great composers and arrangers in Chicago. I have brought my experiences playing and performing to the band, pep band and jazz band, giving our students a chance to play a wide range of musical styles and influences throughout all three ensembles.
Q. What are some of your goals and vision for the Saint Viator band?
A. I would like the SVHS bands to keep growing, developing and playing high quality repertoire at the highest level! I want our students to continue to develop into independent and creative musicians -- and people of society.
Q. What are they working on now?
A. The band is preparing for our performance at the State of the Arts Band Festival at Providence High School. This year we are the "honors band" due to winning the competition in 2022! We are also planning on using the music for this performance for our submission to the Superstate Band Competition, which we were invited to last year! Our jazz band is preparing for our spring concert and some potential community performances. The pep band has their last performance on Jan. 21, at the basketball game. The pit band is preparing for the upcoming performance of "Cinderella.” Lastly, we also have students preparing for the IHSA solo and ensemble competition in March!