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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

With a general discontent about the view-blocking pedestrian railings recently installed along West Shore Road, the discussion at the Oyster Bay Civic Association meeting on Sept. 18 focused on the possibility of having the road designated as a scenic highway.

This concept was suggested by Gregory Druhak of Centre Island, a regular traveler along West Shore Road, who said, “I believe this is the most scenic drive on Long Island west of the Hamptons, perhaps on all of Long Island itself, and it is not being treated as such. I feel we are being given the Lefferts Boulevard [down by JFK airport] expressway extension instead. For all you can see, it might as well be the Belt Parkway below the fence instead of Oyster Bay. This is wrong.”  

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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