Huntington High School sophomore Christiana DeLuca and junior Will Fallon have been named to the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association All-County percussion ensemble.
The Huntington teenagers are among just 14 high school musicians tapped for the county ensemble. Several days of rehearsals will culminate on Friday, February 10 when members of the Suffolk ensemble will perform in concert at Mount Sinai High School at 7:45 p.m. during SCMEA’s Day of Percussion.
Ms. DeLuca and Mr. Fallon have been involved in Huntington’s music program for many years with both commanding the respect of their teachers.
“I got involved in the Huntington music program by starting off in fourth grade like everyone else,” Ms. DeLuca said. “I picked percussion mostly because it seemed fun and also because it wasn’t a section known for having that many girls involved. To me this seemed like a challenge that would provide me with unique opportunities.”
The teenager participated in the high school wind and jazz ensembles and in the pit orchestra as a freshman. “After being on the fence, I decided to take part in the Blue Devil marching band, which is a decision I am happy to have made. “Mr. [Jason] Giachetti as well as Mr. [Brian] Stellato and Ms. [Nicole] Castaneda have influenced and inspired me to continue to grow as a musician.”
Mr. Giachetti is co-chair of the All-County percussion ensemble. J. Taylor Finley Middle School music teacher Frank Battista is slated to present a workshop to the All-County percussionists during the Day of Percussion on February 10.
Mr. Fallon’s progression from novice musician to one of Long Island’s finest runs right through the heart of the Huntington School District.
“In the third grade, every student was given a mandatory introduction to all of the instruments and every student was asked which ones they found the most interesting and their top pick was usually the instrument they were given for the coming years,” Mr. Fallon recalled. “Percussion was the unique instrument in the group. It was the only one that wasn’t blown into or required a bow to use. It was different and I guess I just wanted to be the one to be different in the band.”
Mr. Fallon also considered playing saxophone and he was eventually asked which of the two instruments he liked more. “I blindly said percussion because I liked both and really didn’t want to keep the teacher waiting and just threw out an answer,” the junior said. “My response was the deciding factor for what instrument I would receive. Ultimately, I’m very happy with my choice, but I always wonder what I would be like if I played saxophone.”
The junior has also been accepted in the Nassau-Suffolk concert band and wind symphony. “Both are extraordinary ensembles that are truly different than the typical school bands,” Mr. Fallon said. “It’s higher quality and more professional and that’s something I love.”
A member of Huntington High School’s drama club and the Blue Devil marching band, Mr. Fallon said that both groups “feel like family” and said he found a “second home” with the two organizations. “I don’t know where I would be without the people I have met in these groups,” he added.
He’s worked with many music teachers over the years, but Mr. Fallon singled out one for individual recognition. “Frank Battista is definitely a music teacher that has helped me,” he said about the longtime J. Taylor Finley Middle School band director. “He has taught me to always keep trying even though the rhythm on the page is new. He is also the main reason why I got into marching band as early as I did; seventh grade. All the extra time in the program has really helped me excel in mallet percussion because before that, I wasn’t a big fan of the mallet instruments. Marching band helped me learn to love mallets and because of this series of events, I am now better rounded than I would be if I wasn’t in marching band early, let alone in it at all.”
College is still a long way off, but Mr. Fallon has already given it some thought. “I want to continue to pursue music in college, especially in performance and composition,” he said. “Now I can be fluent in percussion and saxophone. I might even learn more than those two, which is something my fourth grade self would think to be impossible, but now, it appears I could learn them all. I’ve written music on my computer since fifth grade and I have certainly evolved over time. Two of my pieces were even played at school concerts, which is something I still see as insane. I want to get even better at college and perfect my abilities.”
Mr. Fallon has been learning as much as he can about Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music and Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute. “All three are top of the line schools for music and have all interested me with the composition programs they describe online,” he said. “I can’t wait to visit one.”