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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

“Visitation is up 300 percent,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, Raynham Hall Museum director.

“Two-thirds of them come because of reading the book by Brian Kilmeade, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution, and seeing the series ‘Turn’ on A&E,” added Tom Valentine, docent, who keeps the list of visitors. Soon the series will include the story of Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay who was known as Culper, Jr. when he was a spy for George Washington.

Alex Sutherland, director of education, nailed his definition. “He was the most important spy for George Washington because he had the perfect cover. He was pretending to be a Loyalist and writing for a Loyalist newspaper and befriending British officers at his coffee shop in downtown New York while secretly collecting information.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.

Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters, is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.

Isabella Skvarla, 13, Julia Tauter, 12, and Chiara Vlacich, 12, all of Oyster Bay, Julia Forte, 12, of Locust Valley and Riley Stein, 11, of Bayville will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.


Calendar

Art In A Meadow

Saturday, Sept. 13

Bayville Oktoberfest

Saturday, Sept. 13 - Sunday, Sept. 14

Hurricane Preparedness

Tuesday, Sept. 16



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