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Band Returns To Carnegie Hall

On Friday, March 7, the Oyster Bay High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed at Carnegie Hall, an experience for many that could be described by only one word: magic.  

The room was filled to capacity. Every empty surface littered with valve oil and reeds, eyes darted across measures of sheet music as hurried exchanges were made between students. The excitement was evident, the anticipation bursting. A flat screen television mounted overhead on the wall showed one constant image, the stage of Carnegie Hall. One of the most prestigious music venues in the world, it would soon be there’s to take. Soon their sounds, the mournful longing of a clarinet, the crystal chime of a young flute, the booming beat of percussion would become ingrained in the walls of a hall that still resonated with the sounds of The New York Philharmonic and The Beatles.

Matthew Sisia, conductor and musical director for the Oyster Bay High School Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, stood to face his expectant musicians and offered them the words that would become the mantra of their night.  

“This is a night you will remember for the rest of your lives,” he said.

The pride and poise in which Sisia addressed his students spoke volumes of their preparation. They were ready. Since coming together as one group, a combination of the school’s Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band to create the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the musicians had tirelessly dedicated countless hours in preparation for their greatest moment of musical glory. The group consisted of almost 150 students, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, and students ranging in 13 to 18 years of age.  

“When my brother went to Carnegie, he made it seem as if it was no big deal, he knew he wanted to be a musician and he played it cool. I knew he was excited, though. For me, whether or not I want to be a musician in my future doesn’t matter. No matter what, this is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of,” said senior and tuba player Jason Halpern.  

For the students, whether this first performance on a professional stage marked the first of many or the end of a long road as a high school musician, it held special meaning, a celebration of accomplishment, a testament to their love of music.  

The band performed a set of four pieces, “Homage to Perotin” by Roger Nelson, “Bali” by Michael Colgrass, “Foundry” by John Mackey and “Irish Tune from County Derry” by Percy Alridge Grainger. Each piece was a unique experience for musicians and audience. With each movement, instruments carried listening ears to the different corners of the world. “Bali,” a hopeful and haunting piece, tells the story of the strength of Bali, a small Indonesian province, its recovery from terrorist attacks, and their hope for a brighter future.

“Every time I played it I couldn’t help but get chills. I felt like I was there with the explosions, like I could feel their pain and their strength,” said freshman and tenor saxophone player Daniel Juhasz.  

It has become a tradition for Sisia to have his bands perform at Carnegie Hall every four years, but in no way is it a given. It is a privilege that must be earned through a commitment to excellence.  

“He was right: that moment when we finished the last note and everyone rose is a moment I will never forget,” said senior and flutist Laura Broffman.

News

Driving rain and an early start time did not deter 600 people who arrived at Crest Hollow Country Club recently to celebrate the Women’s Fund of Long Island’s 20th year and to honor four exceptional women.

The breakfast started with a meet and greet and a chance to showcase Women’s Fund contest winner Patti Hogarty, designer of “Women as Bamboo.” Inspired by her neighbor’s bamboo, she entered the contest drawing a design of the bamboo, which Ambalu Jewelers of Roslyn then turned into various pendants of which 40-percent of the profits would go to WFLI. Hogarty wrote a short essay comparing women to bamboo in that they are strong and can weather difficult storms, yet remain graceful and continue to grow sending out new shoots.

Oyster Bay High School Principal Dr. Dennis O’Hara addressed the board of education at Tuesday night’s meeting about offering a summer school program at the high school. It would be the first time the district had a summer school program in more than 12 years.

Dr. O’Hara explained that with the institution of the Common Core state standards, students are faced with a greater level of academic rigor and more challenging coursework. The program would offer remedial and enrichment classes for students both in and out of district.


Sports

In the history of Oyster Bay High School athletics, no one has ever won a Girls’ Tennis New York State Championship. Celeste Matute and Courtney Kowalsky became the first when they won the 2014 New York State Doubles Championship in Latham on Nov. 3. What makes this tremendous achievement even more remarkable is that Matute is a junior and Kowalsky is a sophomore.

The girls, who are usually singles players, teamed up to take on the very best players in Nassau County and New York State. They won all 10 matches in the section XIII and NYSPHSAA tournaments and left Latham as the 2014 New York State doubles champions.

The conditions were as fierce as the competition earlier this month at Oakcliff Sailing’s Halloween Invitational.

Ten teams from the U.S., Canada and Bermuda battled 30-knot-plus winds, heavy rain and biting cold to see who would take top honors at Oakcliff’s final match racing event of the 2014 season.


Calendar

Annual Turkey Trot

Thursday, Nov. 27

Turkey Detox Workshop

Friday, Nov. 28

East Norwich Holiday

Sunday, Nov. 30



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