Students perform in statewide concerts


The statewide recital had students selected based on their NYSSMA scores, and took place in the Eastman Theater in Rochester. The All-State mixed choir performed on Sunday, December 7, and is pictured performing “Noel,” an African tune written by Todd Smith.

Ilana Grabiner and Maddie Lane, Staff Writers

Students were selected to showcase their musical talents at the All-State NYSSMA Concert on Dec. 7, in Rochester New York. The New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) is a well-known organization that puts together annual state-wide events for young aspiring musicians.

Students who decide to annually participate in NYSSMA can participate at a level from one to six.  At NYSSMA levels 5 and 6, and at the All-State competition, a judge assesses an individual’s performance on a scale of 1 to 100.  Concert Band teacher Mr. Mark Brenner, chaperoned the event, and weighed in on the audition process.

“Students wishing to be considered for all-state must prepare and perform a NYSSMA Level 6 solo, with an accompanist, for an All-State judge,” said Mr. Brenner. “The judge not only gives the student a score for their solo, but ranks the students on a proficiency list.  In August, all of the proficiency lists are reviewed by a committee and the top 900 students are selected for all-state and another 500 are selected as alternates.”

The Port Washington School District provides all students who partake in musical classes with the opportunity to participate in NYSSMA competitions.  Students who practice music at home are also allowed to participate.

This year Schreiber students senior Chris Bendix on the french horn and  seniors Wyndham-John Daly Stopford and Tessa Peierls in the mixed choir qualified for the All-State NYSSMA event; each of these three students excelled in their school music classes and received high scores in this past spring’s general NYSSMA evaluations.  Bendix, Stopford, and Peierls performed at the All-State concert, where they met students who shared their passion for music.

The students independently learned their music prior to the event.  Between arriving on Dec. 4 and performing on Dec. 7, the musicians rehearsed for a total of 22 hours.  Although ten hours of rehearsal per day may seem overwhelming, Stopford explains that he found the event exciting.

“I thought that 10 hours of rehearsal per day might at least get a little boring, but it never reached that point,” said Stopford. “There were great parties hosted by the organization each night that really kept us excited about the event.”

The mixed choir sang “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, “Noel” by Todd Smith, “And the Glory of the Lord” by George Frideric Handel, “Nunc Dimittis” by Gustav Holst, “Lacrymosa” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Elegy” by Daniel Elder, “Ballade to the Moon” by Daniel Elder, and “Ride in the Chariot” by Brandon Waddles.

Although it took up a school day and the entire weekend, Stopford felt the trip was well worth his time.

“I enjoyed every single minute of every rehearsal I had with the full choir,” said Stopford.  “The talent of the other students and our conductor Dr. Joe Miller never ceased to amaze me.”

Mr. Brenner also felt the trip was worthwhile, for both students and teacher chaperones.

“This year’s All-State groups were incredible, and the guest conductors were superb,” said Mr. Brenner.  “They chose wonderful literature and were able to connect with the students in the various ensembles. The workshops for teachers were superb and overall, it was a very positive experience for both students and teachers.”

Stopford qualified for the eastern division of the National Association for Musical Education (NAFME) next April in Providence, RI.  This division selects students from All-State concerts throughout the East Coast to participate in the convention. No student has attended this prestigious event in years.