Senior Spotlights 2021



Jack Paris Williams – Piano

Orchestra – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing at age 10 when my mother bought a piano. I sat down and started playing movie theme songs and composed my first piece of music that week.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Ratatouille Suite” – Michael Giacchino

Biggest musical influence: Although I admire the work of many composers, Thomas Bergersen is one of my favourites. 

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: The Secret Santa parties.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: The collaboration and support of everyone.

Plans for next year: I will be attending California Institute of the Arts pursuing a BFA in Music Composition and Experimental Sound Practices. 

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Yes, always. My future goal is to create film scores, so I intend to continue with music my entire life.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: I am incredibly grateful to Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett for their guidance over the past 4 years. They made orchestra a fun and educational experience, even when we could not meet in person. I will always be thankful for the many opportunities they have given me to develop as a composer, and for making space for me in the orchestra as a pianist.

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Enjoy the time together!

Other accomplishments: I was honored to receive the Young Musicians for World Peace Award in the Global Peace Song Awards in September 2021, and, in the National PTA Reflections Program, I won the Award of Excellence in 2019 and the Award of Merit in 2021 at the regional level.


Allen Green – Alto Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet

Studio Jazz, Wind Honors, Jazz A, Wind II, Marching Band – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing the alto saxophone the summer before sixth grade where I started private lessons with Agoura High Alumni Jay Nelson. I started clarinet in private lessons with Cece Rubin at the end of seventh grade. I started the flute in private lessons with Cece Rubin halfway through tenth grade and picked it up again in eleventh grade where I started seriously studying it with Dan Higgins right before COVID.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Isfahan” – Duke Ellington

Biggest musical influence: My teachers Dan Higgins (first call studio musician in Los Angeles for saxophone, flute, and clarinet for 30+ years) and Tom Peterson (studio musician and former member of The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen) were my biggest musical influences.

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: My greatest memory from the AHS music room was when Studio Jazz Blue/Bloom found out we were admitted to Essentially Ellington in 2020 and how the room erupted in joy, knowing that all of the long months of work had paid off.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: My favorite memory in the Agoura music program was when Jazz A and Studio Jazz went to Savannah together for Swing Central in 2018. Seeing Studio Jazz perform at Savannah during the competition and how vibrant everyone was seeing our friends in Studio just nail their performance.

Plans for next year: I am going to Temple University at the Boyer College of Music to major in Jazz Performance Studies for Saxophone where I will be studying with the legendary jazz saxophonist Dick Oatts and the jazz director is famous jazz trumpeter and educator Terell Stafford. 

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? I am going to Temple University’s Boyer College of Music to major in Jazz Performance Studies for Saxophone, and I plan to pursue a career in music.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: I would like to thank my private teachers Dan Higgins and Tom Peterson, Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett, as well as former teachers Mr. McKagan and former private teachers Cece Rubin and Jay Nelson for all of their help through my musical journey.

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? I would tell future and current AHS music students that the sky is the limit as a musician, especially at Agoura. You have the two best music directors in the country at your disposal doing everything they can to make you a better person and a better musician. Take advantage of that and ask for their advice whether it is on what to practice, what music to listen to, private teachers, summer camps, etc. Participate in as many things in the music program as possible, as well as everything outside of the music program. For example, audition for All-State and All-Southern. Saxophonists, strengthen your doubles!!!! Work on long tones on the flute from the Moyse and play clarinet in the wind ensemble. If you are a jazz musician, try out for the Stanford Jazz Institute, try out for the Jazz at Lincoln Center summer camps, try out for the Vail Jazz Workshop, audition for Colburn, audition for Spotlight, submit compositions and arrangements for Downbeat, learn as many tunes as you can, etc. 

Other accomplishments: I was a member of AHS Jazz A competing at Savannah Swing Central in 2018, member of the 2019 California All-State High School Big Band, which included California’s finest high school jazz musicians accepted through audition. I was a student at Stanford Jazz Institute in the summers of 2018 and 2019, accepted through audition, received the outstanding Soloist Award from the 2019 Fullerton Jazz Festival with AHS Studio Jazz, was a featured Soloist on “Isfahan” and member of AHS Studio Jazz Blue/Bloom 2021 as one of eighteen bands in the United States accepted to Essentially Ellington with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center. I won an outstanding Alto Saxophonist Solo Award from Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center at Essentially Ellington Virtual Festival 2020, was a student at the virtual Vail Jazz Workshop in 2020, as one of two alto saxophonists accepted in the US, with the best high school jazz musicians in the US. I was an award-winning arranger for the Colburn Monday Night Band in the famed Downbeat Jazz Magazine 2021 for best high school arrangement of jazz standard “Invitation.” and was a member of AHS Studio Jazz Blue/Bloom 2021 as one of eighteen bands in the United States accepted to Essentially Ellington with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.


Jennifer Suarez-Tanauren – Violin

Orchestra II, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Honors – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started on the summer break just before 6th grade. I believe I was eleven years old at the time.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “La Muerte de Angel” – Astor Piazzolla

Biggest musical influence: Ms. Elise Goodman. She was my private teacher throughout high school and I look up to her because she is an amazing violinist and a kind person. She’s a good example for her students.

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: I just loved the environment in general. Everyone was always so kind and easy to get along with.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: The New Orleans trip was amazing! I loved touring around the area and hanging out with the people in the music program. The trip gave me the opportunity to learn more about New Orleans, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn more about my peers. I had the time of my life and I’ll never forget it. 🙂

Plans for next year: I’m going to Azusa Pacific University and I will be double majoring in music and humanities.

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Of course! Music is very important to me. I’m going to major in it, but I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do with it just yet. Even though I’m not too sure of my future, I do know that I want to do the best that I can do so that I can be the best musician that I can be.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: A huge thank you to Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett for always pushing us to do our best. I’m also very thankful for the very warm and welcoming environment that they have created.

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? 1) Never stop doing what you love even when it gets hard. 2) Always respect and take care of yourself. High school gets busy but always make some time for yourself. 3) Don’t worry about what others think of you. Focus on developing yourself and do your best. 4) Practice 🙂Other accomplishments: I was in the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra (CVYO) and the Colburn Youth Orchestra (CYO). Over the summer I went to the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra Intensive (2018) and the Idyllwild Chamber Festival Orchestra (2019). I did Junior Chamber Music (JCM) for two years. I participated in events/programs like the MTAC Contemporary Music Festival, the MTAC State Convention, Certificate of Merit (CM), the VC Henry Schwab Competition, VOCE, ASTACAP, and the Thousand Oaks Appassionata Program.


Lauren Carter – Flute and Voice

Wind Ensemble Honors, Choir, Madrigals, and Agourapella – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I began singing at age 5 in a children’s choir and began playing flute in 6th grade at Lindero Canyon Middle School. 

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Sleep” – Eric Whitacre or “Arabesque” – Samuel R. Hazo

Biggest musical influence: Celtic Woman

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Simple moments during Madrigals rehearsal where the music would come together so perfectly. 

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: I really enjoyed the trip to New Orleans with choir where we had the opportunity to go to clinics and meet people from other music classes at Agoura. The holiday events Madrigals used to perform at were always fun as there was never a typical stage setting. 

Plans for next year: I will be attending San Diego State University to study Voice Performance. 

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Yes, I will be studying music for 4 years while gaining a bachelor’s in Voice Performance and then I hope to continue as a professional classical singer. I also plan on at some point returning to get a masters in Music Education and becoming a teacher. 

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: I would like to thank both Mr. Hackett and Mr. Bloom for offering a great high school music experience and always pushing me to be the best musician possible. 

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Make the best of each piece you play, time in the music program goes by very fast.

Other accomplishments: During high school, I’ve been a member of California All-State Honor Choir, Southern California Honor Choir, and Honors Performance Series Concert Choir. I have been a board member and performer of Harmonic Youth Orchestra. I’ve also been a member of the Los Robles Children’s Choir for 8 years and Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra for 3 years.


Vibiana Cardenas – Viola

Orchestra II, Symphony Orchestra – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing violin when I was in 3rd grade at Lupin Hill Elementary and switched to viola in 7th grade at Lindero Canyon Middle School. 

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” – Vaughan Williams

Biggest musical influence: My biggest musical influences are my teachers, because they have helped me grow as a musician. I am deeply grateful for Dr. Gregory Fried, Diana-Ray Goodman, and my current teacher Teng Li, for their hours of dedication and sharing of their art with me. 

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: My favorite memory from the AHS music room is being surrounded by welcoming faces and making memories with my friends during rehearsals and sectionals.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: My favorite memory from my time in the Agoura music program is the New Orleans trip in 2019 because I was able to explore New Orleans with my friends and have the chance to perform and have masterclasses. 

Plans for next year: I will be attending Stanford University with a plan to double major in Political Science and Viola Performance. 

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? In college, I plan on majoring in music performance. I also plan to participate in Stanford Orchestra and Chamber Music programs. I also do want to continue with community work in music focusing on teaching/mentoring younger students in the Bay Area. Music will always be a part of who I am.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: Thank you Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett for helping me grow as a musician and as an individual. Thank you for all the great high school music memories!

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? My advice for future music students is to have fun and enjoy playing music with your classmates. The time will pass quicker than expected.

Other accomplishments: I have been a part of other musical groups through the years including the CSUN Philharmonic Orchestra, the Colburn Youth Orchestra, the MTAC Honor Orchestras, and Junior Chamber Ensembles. I have been able to Perform with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic and been invited to the state VOCE Finals in Viola. I have attended the Idyllwild Chamberfest Festival, the Interlochen Summer Arts festival, and the Curtis Summerfest over the years. Most recently have been invited to perform in South Korea with JCM and Vienna, Austra with the Honors Performance Orchestra but sadly these had to be cancelled because of COVID-19. I do plan to continue to travel, explore and hopefully be able to play internationally in the future though!


Nicholas Kim – Clarinet

Wind Ensemble Honors – Freshman to Senior Years, Agourapella – Sophomore Year

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started Clarinet in 6th grade at A.E. Wright Middle School.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night” – Mark Camphouse and “Blue Shades” – Frank Ticheli

Biggest musical influence: Boris Allakhverdyan, Principal Clarinetist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and clarinet faculty at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Spending time with my friends in the band room during lunch. The overall atmosphere is unforgettable and super fun. 

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: Taking a trip to New Orleans will always be my favorite memory during my time as an Agoura music student. Being surrounded by wonderful friends and getting to work in a completely new environment made the trip hold a special place in my heart. 

Plans for next year: I will be attending UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music to study under my current private teacher, Boris Allakhverydan. 

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Yes. I plan to study music for the next 6 years surrounded by a competitive atmosphere and hope to secure an orchestra position as a principal clarinetist. 

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: I cannot thank Mr. Hackett enough for all that he has done for me and the Agoura High Music Department. Even throughout these tough times, he always keeps a smile on his face and radiates positive energy through the room. He is an amazing director, coach, and person. I am honored to have been able to work with him for the last four years. 

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Enjoy it to the fullest. Make as many lasting memories as you can. Music truly is a life changer and I guarantee you will grow in all sorts of aspects. 

Other accomplishments: I am currently the associate principal clarinetist of the Colburn Youth Orchestra. This year, I was chosen as one of six woodwind Semi-Finalists for the Music Center’s Spotlight Competition. I have also been chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall in December 2021. 


Kayla Neiyer – Flute and Bassoon, Drum Major

Wind Ensembles (I, II and Honors), Blue Crew – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? 6th grade for flute and 9th grade for bassoon

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Hymn to a Blue Hour” – John Mackey

Biggest musical influence: Duncan Massey, my private bassoon tutor

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Being a student tutor of flute and becoming very close friends with the students.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: UCLA Band Day 2019

Plans for next year: Ringling College of Art and Design for Computer Animation and Screenwriting

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? I intend to play in community groups and with my friends.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: Thank you Mr. Hackett for giving me many, many opportunities in my music career and eventually being the source of me meeting my closest friends.  If it were not for Mr. Hackett, I would not have been the Drum Major for the past two years and learned so many leadership skills.  

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Join the marching band.

Other accomplishments: Throughout high school I have had the opportunity to take college bound courses at prestigious colleges, such as Ringling College of Art & Design and Arts University Bournemouth, UK.  This has solidified my career path in hopes of working for Disney or Pixar.


Nico Jones – Piano, Voice, Clarinet

Wind Ensemble, Jazz, Choir, Blue Crew, Agourapella – Freshman to Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing piano with a private teacher at the age of five.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Solid Old Man” – Duke Ellington

Biggest musical influence: Cedar Walton

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Watching studio get in to Ellington

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: I loved the trip to Savannah my sophomore year. I felt so much closer to the members in my band and it was such a great fun experience.

Plans for next year: USC Thornton School of Music – BM in Jazz Studies

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? I plan to play music professionally 

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: Thank you to Mr Hackett and Mr Bloom for always allowing a place and atmosphere to explore and perform.

 Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Be kind to everyone in your band. No matter what.


Lukas Leitzgen – Violin

Orchestra, Symphonic Orchestra, Tri-M Chamber Groups, Pit Music for Play “The End”, Freshman-Senior Years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing violin at age five in my elementary school music program

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “New World Symphony: IV Mvt” – Antonín Dvořák.

Biggest musical influence: My mother; as a professional pianist, she inspires me to continue to play and practice music to become the best musician I can be

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Visits from Mr. Mosley – they were always filled with unpredictable laughs

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: Winter parties and the Secret Santa; it just made the program feel like a family, like a big group of friends, not just classmates

Plans for next year: I plan on attending UC Berkeley, majoring in either global studies or political science and potentially minoring in music performance.

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? I plan to play for the UC Berkeley Orchestra, as well as look for chamber opportunities. I will continue to play music for the rest of my life.

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: I want to thank Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett for a wonderful four years at Agoura High School, they always worked very hard to give us opportunity to play good music and improve as an ensemble and individually. I must also commend their efforts during the Covid 19 pandemic, they still found a way for us to play music, even when virtually.

Other accomplishments: CVYO (Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra), CYO (Colburn Youth Orchestra), player in the Agoura High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team


Jaqueline Fox – Flute and Piccolo

Wind II, Wind Honors, Freshman-Senior Years

Instrument(s): Flute and Piccolo

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? In 4th grade at Yerba Buena Elementary

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “Arabesque” – Samuel Hazo

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Friendships I’ve made

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: I liked sectionals with my flute section, we always bonded and got closer

Plans for next year: I am going to Chapman University and majoring in PR and Advertising at their Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Don’t worry about the small things, everything will work out in the end.

Other accomplishments: I was also on the Agoura Dance Team for 4 years and a board member of Tri-M Music Honors Society this year.


Ben Rosen- Trombone

Jazz (A and Studio), Wind Ensemble (II and Honors), Freshman – Senior years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? Beginning band at Lindero Canyon Middle School

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “A Love Supreme” – John Coltrane

Biggest musical influence: Wycliffe Gordon

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: The community and spirit

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: Finding out we made Ellington last year, it was an incredible achievement and everyone celebrated in the music room for all our hard work.

Plans for next year: Going off to UCLA to study business or psychology

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Yes! Hopefully in college bands or clubs

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: Thank you to both Mr. Hackett and Mr. Bloom for a great high school experience and helping me really develop as a musician and person!

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? The most important part of music is enjoying it.

Other accomplishments: All- National, All- State, and All- Southern jazz bands were all great bands I played in.


Slater Anton – Flute, piccolo, alto flute

Wind Honors, Freshman – Senior years

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing ethnic and world flutes at the age of 2 and the classical silver flute later in my middle and high school years

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “A Weekend in New York” – Philip Sparke

Biggest musical influence: Denis Bouriakov, the principle flute player of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the flute faculty at the UCLA Herb Albert music school.

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: Getting to sit with my friends and bandmates in the music room during lunch in a fun, informational music environment .

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: Getting to go on a trip to New Orleans with the music department was my favourite memory. Getting to work intensively in masterclasses while enjoying and adventuring the city was a dream come true, especially surrounded by my wonderful friends and music educators. 

Plans for next year: I will be going to the Boston Conservatory at the Berklee School of Music to study Flute Performance with Linda Toote.

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? Yes, I will be studying music for the next 4-6 years in an intense collegiate environment and hope to be an orchestra flautist as a future occupation. 

Any special tributes or thank yous to the directors or music coaches: A special thank you to Mr. Hackett. There is never a time when Mr. Hackett isn’t positive and kind to his students, and is always driving us to push our skills further. Not only is he an excellent teacher, coach, and director, he is an equally amazing person and I am so honoured to have worked with him the past four years. 

Any advice you would give to future AHS music students? Stick to it. Being in the music department at AHS is not only an amazing experience but it is an honour. Stay in the department and grow as a musician, and as a person. 

Other accomplishments: I’m currently a Colburn School Preparatory Academy Student. I am a part of the Colburn Chamber Society, performing in two advanced Chamber Groups. I am principal flute of the Colburn Youth Orchestra, and have been taking music theory at Colburn for four years. Lastly, I take private lessons at Colburn with their esteemed flute faculty and teacher Karen Lundgren. 


Rachel Fox – Alto Saxophone

Jazz Band A (freshman year), Wind Ensemble Honors (sophomore-senior year)

Where and when did you start playing your instrument? I started playing the alto saxophone in fourth grade in the Yerba Buena Elementary School band.

Favorite musical piece played at Agoura: “A Weekend in New York” – Phillip Sparke and “Watchman, Tell us of the Night” – Mark Camphouse

Favorite memory from the AHS music room: The sense of collaboration and community that everyone in the music program has.

Favorite memory/memories of your time in Agoura music program: One of my favorite memories was in freshman year when we went to Savannah Swing Central because I really appreciated all of the performances and masterclasses, and I enjoyed the opportunity to bond with other members of the music program. Another of my favorite memories was in sophomore year during the Wind Honors spring concert and the New Orleans Festival because those were both really meaningful performances where we were able to have fun while showcasing the pieces we had worked on. 

Plans for next year: I am going to UCLA in the fall and will be majoring in neuroscience on the premed track.

Do you plan to keep music in your life after leaving Agoura? I plan to continue playing classical music in both chamber groups and wind ensembles.

Thank yous: Thank you to Mr. Bloom and Mr. Hackett for making the music program such a fun environment to be a part of!

Advice to future AHS music students: Play the type of music that makes you happy.

Other accomplishments: Within the music program, I have held multiple leadership roles (treasurer, co-vice president) in Tri-M Music Honors Society, and I am the executive officer of Wind Ensemble and performer for the nonprofit Harmonic Youth Orchestra, which hosts monthly concerts at senior homes and community events. Outside of music, I am a multi-year member of the AHS Varsity softball team and a part of numerous academic honors societies and science clubs on campus.