OBHS Plays Carnegie Hall and Gets Standing Ovation
In a concert they called “inspiring,” “awe-striking” and a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, more than 125 students in the Oyster Bay High School Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble had the rare opportunity to perform together at Carnegie Hall as part of the Best Bands & Choirs International program, April 19.
Under the batons of Oyster Bay High School music teachers Mr. Matthew Sisia and Mr. Michael Giannetta, students dressed in black tie, presented works by Pierre La Plante, Vincent Persichetti, Percy Aldridge Grainger, and Leonard Bernstein with arrangement by Clare Grundman. They received a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
“The students really rose to the challenge,” said Mr. Sisia. “I was proud of their musicality, their individual and collective accomplishments, and their ability to communicate through music. I am hopeful that this was a positive experience that the students of Oyster Bay High School will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.”
According to Sisia, selecting the music for the performance was no easy task.
“There are a lot of educational "bullseyes" you have to hit as a teacher first, and then make it work as a musical program while considering logistics. I think the program worked well and represented our program accurately,” he said.
The “whirlwind” day consisted of students in formal attire rehearsing at the high school for an hour before boarding a bus to the city where they had lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. When they arrived at Carnegie Hall, they had some time to prepare for their concert and do a sound check before their 7 p.m. performance. After taking the stage, they went up to the balcony of the concert hall to watch the other ensembles perform.
The opportunity was made possible through the generosity of the Friends of the Performing Arts Center (PAC). During the District’s winter concert series, PAC President Mr. Ravin Chetram presented a check for $5,000.00 to the District’s Fine and Performing Arts Department to pay for expenses associated with the concert hall performance, such as transportation.
PAC, a not-for-profit organization that was originally founded to refurbish the high school auditorium, supports a variety of music department initiatives, such as sponsoring the Chamber Singers Music in the Park performances, master classes at Vernon and Oyster Bay High School, a five-week after school theater class at Vernon, scholarships to seniors, and food for late-night rehearsals of student performances.
“Having such opportunities outside of the classroom enriches our students’ educational experience and propels them to be better musicians,” said Mr. Peter Rufa, K-12 Fine and Performing Arts Supervisor. “We thank PAC for their generosity and continued support of our students and our music program.”
“The Carnegie Hall stage is mesmerizing, intimidating, and inspiring all at the same time,” Mr. Sisia added. “When you think that, in addition to the New York Philharmonic and every other major orchestra and recording artist in the world, such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Bernstein, who all took the same stage as the students of Oyster Bay High School, it's pretty amazing.”
This was the high school’s third performance at Carnegie Hall. The previous performances were in 2014 and 2010.
Student musicians pose for a photo at Carnegie Hall.
Left section of the stage.
The musicians perform on stage.
Right section of the stage.
Mr. Matthew Sisia leads a rehearsal the morning of the performance.
Mr. Michael Giannetta conducts a rehearsal the morning of the performance.