Huntington’s student musicians and vocalists has been winning plaudits for more than 100 years and for good reason; they have always been among the best in the state, if not the nation. The community is in for a treat over the next two weeks as a series of public concerts will be held in all eight buildings with additional performances slated for later in the winter.
“Our winter performances are important for many reasons,” said Eric Reynolds, district director of fine and performing arts. “The performances serve as our first benchmark of student progress since September. Teachers, through performance, elicit information from students related to conceptual understanding. From here, our teachers begin to design lessons and units to further student growth during the spring. Second, our performances are a way to bring families and friends together for a joyous, festive, and peaceful holiday season.”
The evening concerts are all open to the public. No tickets are required. “We, in the music department, hope that the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors of our students enjoy the wonderful sounds of the season and are as proud of our performers as we are,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Finally, the winter performances are just downright fun! The variety of musical selections, the messages behind them, and the creativity that teachers and students put forth is amazing to witness.”
Concerts begin on Tuesday
Huntington's musicians will perform a series of
public concerts this month (Darin Reed photo.)
The series of concerts will begin on Tuesday (December 12) at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium when the combined Woodhull Intermediate School and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School sixth grade ensembles perform under the batons of directors Katie Canales, Chelsea Jablon, and Claude Masear.
The combined Woodhull/Jack Abrams STEM Magnet schools fifth grade concert directed by teachers Tara Adams, Christina Bhasin and Katie Canales will be presented on Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
During regular school hours on the concert days, students will be performing for their peers which will also provide the musicians and teachers time to polish their works. Students from the ensembles will speak about each song, giving the audience historical and musical background. Audiences will hear “Trepak” from The Nutcracker, “We Need A Little Christmas,” “Let It Snow” and “Hanukkah Holiday.”
Primary grade level songfests are also set. Each December, Flower Hill, Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School, Jefferson, Southdown and Washington families are treated to the sounds of the season by students in grades K-4 led by music teachers, Sue Graber and Karen Cronin. The gymnasiums will once again be decorated, transforming the spaces into winter wonderlands. Musical selections heard at Washington and Southdown will include “Deck the Halls,” “Santa Needs a Vacation,” “Lots of Latkes,” “The Mitten Song,” “S’Vivon,” “O Christmas Tree” and “Dealing with the Reindeer.”
The songs that Jefferson and Flower Hill audiences will be treated to include “Chanukah Ha Ha,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Este Es La Navidad,” “Shalom,” “Up and Away With Good Saint Nick” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”
“The songfests in each primary building represent the first public concert performance of the school year and for our younger students, the first time ever they are performing,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Having families and friends gather together as they enjoy the performances of our students is always a wonderful way to end the weeks before winter recess.”
Finley concert set for Thursday
The J. Taylor Finley Middle School bands, choruses and orchestras will present their winter concert on Thursday, December 14. Teachers Frank Battista, Matt Gelfer, Dan Santangelo and Chris Scarnato lead the student ensembles. Repertoire from the groups will include the Trans-Siberian Orchestra arrangement of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “Stand By Me,” “Can You Hear the Bells,” “Jubilate Deo” and “A Christmas Tale,” featuring guest narrator, Krampus.
Huntington High School concert on December 19
Huntington High School’s orchestras and choruses will present their concert on Tuesday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The musical sounds that are traditionally produced by the vocalists and orchestra members are once again expected to be exceptional. The concert will feature the string orchestra and symphony orchestra, led by Nicole Castaldo. Music performed by the string students will include a classical music masterwork, a symphony by Haydn and selections from The Grinch. The concert and chamber choirs under the direction of Victoria Garbarino will present “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “We are the World” with special guests.
“During this year’s high school winter concert, the audience will be treated to a newly formed handbell choir,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Huntington music teacher Jason Giachetti, our very own percussion specialist, started the ensemble and worked with the students after school, rehearsing pieces to perform.”
Keeping with a long established tradition, the concert’s encore will see the symphony orchestra and choirs combine to perform the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. “Each year, we invite our high school music alumni in attendance to perform alongside our students,” Mr. Reynolds said. “The sights and sounds of well over 200 performers on stage is simply awesome.”
The winter concert season will extend well-beyond the holidays. Huntington UFSD’s concert cycle stretches over a three-month period beginning in December and lasting through February.
Beginning instrumental concerts
Led by teachers Mitch Malle, Katherine Adams and Nicole Lynch, fourth grade student instrumentalists will have their own performances this year to feature the work they have been doing and the strides they are making on their new instruments.
“By holding concerts in January, the beginning instrumental staff members are able to stretch the instructional time focusing on musical elements and techniques in a more detailed manner,” Mr. Reynolds explained. “This will translate into a larger repertoire of musical works for the students that are of greater musicianship.”
Beginning instrumental concert dates are:
• Jefferson/Southdown fourth grade band and orchestra: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
• Flower Hill/Washington/Jack Abrams STEM fourth grade band and orchestra: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
HHS Art Honor Society
The Huntington High School Art Honor Society will be selling winter-themed ornaments at each of the concerts in the high school auditorium. Proceeds will go towards AHS scholarships. The eye-catching artwork is sure to be snatched up in short order.
Huntington High School mid-winter band concert
The bands at Huntington High School will present their mid-winter concert on wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The concert will feature both the junior band and the senior band under the direction of Brian Stellato and Jason Giachetti. The bands will present works such as “Music” from Moana, Xerxes by John Mackey, “Joy Revisited” by Frank Ticheli, “Sleep” by Eric Whitacre and selections from Star Wars.
“Since the bands rehearse as the marching band and the pep band for the first quarter of the school year, concert band repertoire practice begins in November,” Mr. Reynolds explained. “Mr. Stellato and Mr. Giachetti program works of popular music that feature winter themes and pull from the standard repertoire for wind band.”
Performing for the community at-large is one of the joys of the season for Huntington’s students. “One of the most important aspects of the music program is community partnerships and outreach,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Performing for residents in Huntington is meaningful, not just during the holiday season. The support received for our school programs from our community, especially in the fine and performing arts is extraordinary. Our way of giving back to our neighbors is to showcase the hard work and share the talents of our students. No matter the venue, the performances by our students are well-received and audiences are appreciative.”
The student-musicians have already impressed diverse crowds this season. The Huntington High School string quartet and chamber choir performed at the Long Island Board of Realtors holiday gala held at the Huntington Country Club and high school Tri-M music honor society members and small ensembles from J. Taylor Finley Middle School provided festive sounds for the residents and staff at Carillon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Members of the Woodhull/Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School sixth grade orchestra will be bringing holiday cheer to residents of the Hilaire Rehabilitation & Nursing facility. “
It is important to maintain strong connections throughout the town and equally important to cultivate new partnerships,” Mr. Reynolds said. “The music staff and I are already discussing and researching new opportunities to perform for businesses and organizations throughout Huntington in the future.”
Complete December Concert Schedule
Tuesday, December 12 at 9:30 a.m. - Grade 6 (Woodhull and STEM) at Woodhull
Tuesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. - Grade 6 (Woodhull and STEM) at Huntington High School
Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. - Finley Middle School at Huntington High School
Friday, December 15 at 1:30 p.m. – Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School Songfest
Tuesday, December 19 at 9:40 a.m. - Southdown Songfest (Grades K-1)
Tuesday, December 19 at 10:20 a.m. - Southdown Songfest (Grades 2-4)
Tuesday, December 19 at 10:00 a.m. - Jefferson Songfest (Grades K-2)
Tuesday, December 19 at 2:15 p.m. - Jefferson Songfest (Grades 3-4)
Tuesday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. - Huntington High School Choruses and Orchestras at HHS
Wednesday, December 20 at 9:30 a.m. - Grade 5 (Woodhull and STEM) at Woodhull
Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30 p.m. - Grade 5 (Woodhull and STEM) at HHS
Thursday, December 21 at 10:00 a.m. - Flower Hill Songfest (Grades K-2)
Thursday, December 21 at 2:00 p.m. - Flower Hill Songfest (Grades 3-4)
Friday, December 22 at 1:00 p.m. - Washington Songfest (Grades 3-4)
Friday, December 22 at 2:15 p.m. - Washington Songfest (Grades K-2)