More than two dozen outstanding band, chorus and orchestra musicians from East Islip Middle School participated in the Suffolk County Music Educators Association All-County Division I Central (for sixth-graders) and All-County Division II West (for seventh- and eighth-graders) concerts on March 9. The SCMEA ensembles, including students from more than 30 other Suffolk middle schools, were directed by acclaimed guest conductors from some of Long Island’s best music programs.
East Islip musicians in Division I included Fiona Ashe, Sophia Bates, Kayla Cappe, Giavanna Dushaj, Gracie Edmonds, Gia Geamaux, Peter Gerace, Liam Greene, Kaylee Hoffman, Thomas Locke, Caroline Meehan, Matthew Micalizzi, Justine Rizzo and Toby Zollner.
Division II musicians included Jake Acocella,Connor Barnes, Alexandra Bertolini, Sarah Bloom, Anthony Ciadella, John Clyne, James Daley, John Donovan, Lauren Florenz, Victoria Keenan, Madison Lane, Stephanie Millito, Elisa Mingo and Cassidy Triolo.
Conducted by James W. Dragovich, the West II Festival Band performed Carl Strommen’s “Grand Tetons Overture,” Robert W. Smith’s “The Great Locomotive Chase,” and Warren Barker’s “An Irish Ayre for Winds” and “A Galop to End All Galops.”
Led by Mark Kimes, the West II Festival Chorus sang pieces including Mozart’s “Dies Irae,” pan-African anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” Brian Lewis’ “Exsultate, Jubilate,” traditional spiritual “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” and Linda Spevacek’s “Kimineero (The Carrion Crow).”
Conducted by Anthony J. Pianelli Jr., the West II Festival Orchestra tackled selections from the musical “Les Miserables” as well as Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances,” Shirl Jae Atwell’s “Drifen” and Percy Fletcher’s “Folk Tune and Fiddle Dance.”
The Central Festival Band, conducted by Daniel Bilawsky, played selections including John O’Reilly’s “Jefferson County Overture,” David Shaffer’s “Now the Winter’s Come to Stay,” Michael Story’s “The Curse of Tutankhamun” and James Ployhar’s “Song of the Whaler.”
Conducted by Kamilla Ozman, the Central Festival Chorus sang “We Will” by Jim Papoulis, Cesar Franck’s “Panis Angelicus,” “The Lion and the Unicorn” by Ed Harris, Martin Shaw’s “With a Voice of Singing” and the swing medley “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Sing, Sing, Sing.”
The Central Festival Orchestra, conducted by Reynard Burns, tackled Burns’ own “Crossroad,” Robert Frost’s “Hornpipe,” “Habanera” from the Bizet opera “Carmen” and a selection from Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de St. Georges’ Symphony XI No. 2.
“These SCMEA concerts were probably some of the best I’ve ever seen,” said band teacher and Tri-M co-adviser Concetta Stevens. “Parents told me that they were blown away and that the kids’ performances brought tears to their eyes.”
One East Islip student, trombonist Steven Gieseler, was awarded SCMEA’s Burnhart Rydzeski Scholarship, providing him full tuition to attend the challenging six-week New York State Summer Music Festival in Oneonta. Gieseler, a member of the East Islip Middle School Tri-M Honor Society, plays trombone in the seventh- and eighth-grade concert band, jazz ensemble and Tri-M Holiday Brass.
“Steven’s musical accomplishments and a wonderful and compelling essay that he wrote won him this tremendous honor,” said Stevens. “I cannot be more proud and excited for him. He is going to have such a wonderful musical experience and meet and collaborate with musicians from all around the country. Friendships and memories will develop that he will cherish for life.”