Seven high school student-musicians were selected for All-State honors this year by the New York State School Music Association. Senior flutist Valli Mani and junior clarinetist Harrison Gieraltowski were both selected for the All-State Symphonic Band, with senior trombonist Doug Keller chosen as an alternate. Seniors Joseph Janover (tenor II), Samantha Sampollo (alto I), Sam Sharkey (tenor II) and Alyssa Stephens (soprano II) were all selected to sing with the All-State Mixed Chorus.
While participating in December at the NYSSMA Winter Conference’s All-State concerts, held at the Eastman Theater in Rochester, Gieraltowski and Mani both performed in the All-State Symphonic Band, conducted by Dr. Stephen Peterson. The ensemble rehearsed up to eight hours a day for three days, performing extremely challenging works such as Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” Eric Whitacre’s “October” and Howard Hanson’s “Laude.” Mani, the co-valedictorian for East Islip’s Class of 2015, was seated as second chair flute, ranking her as one of the top flutists in New York State.
“Valli, Harrison and Doug are all extremely talented students, but what sets them apart from the rest and led them to be All-State musicians is their hard work, discipline and dedication,” said band director Christopher Neske. “Not only are they incredible musicians, but the three are such great students and genuinely nice people. I am so proud and humbled to be their teacher.”
The four chorus students, who likewise participated at the Winter Conference, all boast impressive resumes. Janover serves as president of East Islip’s honors choir, with Stephens as vice-president; both are enrolled in AP music theory and the new Acting for Musical Theatre class. Sampollo, the alto section leader in the honors choir, also serves as president of the school’s women’s choir and is enrolled in Acting for Musical Theatre. Sharkey serves as tenor section leader of the honors choir, and plays trumpet in East Islip’s honors wind ensemble and honors symphony orchestra. Janover (playing “Doc” and serving as assistant musical director), Sampollo (as “Consuela” and “Somewhere Ballet” vocal soloist) and Stephens (as “Anita”) will all be featured in the high school’s musical production of “West Side Story,” set for March 26, 27 and 28.
“All four students have not only displayed excellence in their musicianship and leadership skills but a genuine love and appreciation for music,” said Bethany Affelt, the high school’s choral and theater director. “To have four students chosen from one high school to sing with the All-State choir is truly a remarkable feat and I am so incredibly proud of them.”