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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

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution.

Dr. Charles Schleien, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, said that although the enterovirus is still active, cases are dwindling on Long Island. According to Schleien, approximately 500 cases have been reported this season of enterovirus, at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, with two to six patients being admitted per day.

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.


Sports

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com