East Islip’s spring concert season proved a delight for the ears and a testament to the depth of student talent and the rigorous curriculum of the music program, befitting a district that was again named a Best Community for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation.
The youngest student-musicians, from the fourth and fifth grades at John F. Kennedy and Ruth C. Kinney elementary schools, each showed off their progressing skills at dual concerts, one held during the day at the school itself, in front of peers and staff, and an evening show for parents held at the high school’s Rydzeski Hall auditorium.
RCK’s musicians performed with great enthusiasm on May 4, with the fourth-grade band enthusiastically tackling “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
“I am so proud of my fourth-graders for playing this piece from memory, and want to congratulate them all on a job well done at their first concert,” said RCK orchestra director Angela Stewart. “As for the fifth-grade orchestra, I am likewise very proud of their many elementary musical accomplishments and wish them the best in the middle school orchestra.”
At JFK’s May 5 concerts, students performed music from various time periods in both the beginner and advanced orchestras and bands.
“Our JFK musicians shined like superstars at their concert,” said orchestra director Jaime DeMaria. “We couldn’t be more proud of these amazing children, and I feel so lucky to have taught such a talented bunch.”
JFK’s beginner band performed several pieces including “Appalachian Folk Dance” by Robert W. Smith, while the advanced band performed a selection of tunes arranged by Michael Story, including his own “Ovation” and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. “The Gettysburg Address” proved a particular highlight, with teacher Karl Von Glahn dressed as Abraham Lincoln, reciting the speech alongside the band’s performance.
“The musical setting contains pieces of Civil War songs, and as a Common Core lesson, the students learned about both the speech and the music composition,” said band director Ron Fox.
East Islip Middle School’s concerts, held at the high school on May 6 and 11, featured eight different ensembles, with highlights including opening “Aladdin” by the concert band, the girls chorus’ rendition of traditional Scottish song “Over the Sea to Sky,” a Queen tribute by the concert choir with soloist Nia Kalodimos, and the eighth-grade string orchestra’s performance of music from “The Hunger Games.”
“The seventh-grade girls chorus members have really grown as musicians over the course of the school year,” said the middle school’s chorus and choir director Patricia Bryan. “I was very proud of their performance, particularly with the quality of tone they are beginning to produce. I was also extremely proud of all the soloists and will miss this eighth-grade class next year.”
The culminating concerts by the high school’s musicians, held on May 15 and 18, showcased seven sensational ensembles. The string orchestra’s richly textured rendition of newer piece “Arlington Sketches,” by Elliott Dell Borgo, was one of many memorable moments, along with the same group's ”An Irish Part in Third Class” from “Titanic,” where they were accompanied by an Irish step dancer, the concert choir and vocal jazz ensemble’s joint take on Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” the concert band’s ”Russian Sailor’s Dance,” and the Japanese-language “Hisakata (The Gentle Light of Spring)” from the women’s choir.