Schools: Trombonist Visits; Flutist Wins Competition

Walt Whitman High School senior Gianna Vozza has won the 2nd annual Huntington Community Band solo competition. The competition was open to all Class of 2023 band musicians from any high school in the town of Huntington.

Gianna will receive a $200 prize and a solo performance with the Huntington Community Band. She will perform a flute feature with the Huntington Community Band on July 5 at 8pm on the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage at Heckscher Park in Huntington.

She will attend Syracuse University in the fall. She is a member of the high school’s Wind Ensemble, and has played flute in the Wildcat Marching Band since 8th grade.  This year she was band Section Leader and Quartermaster.  She started playing the flute at the age of nine.

Gianna has been a member of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra Suffolk Principal Orchestra since 2019 and is the principal flute. She has been a finalist in two flute competitions, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra’s concerto competition and the Long Island Flute Club’s competition. She has also attended several summer music festivals, including the New York State School Music Association (NYSSSA) festival, the Oyster Bay Music Festival, and the Aria International Academy. Gianna was also fortunate enough to attend masterclasses with two renowned flutists, Bonita Boyd, and Judith Mendenhall, and has studied with flute instructor Alison Hubbard since 2017.

Trombonist in Harborfields

The Harborfields High School Jazz Band recently participated in a workshop/rehearsal with  trombonist-composer Marshall Gilkes. A three-time Grammy-nominated artist and a member of the seven-time Grammy-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, Gilkes traveled to Greenlawn to spend several hours working with the students.

Following a performance introduction and some discussion about warmups,
practicing and life in music, Gilkes rehearsed the band on material that was tailormade orchosen for his visit. Junior Peter Hoss arranged the trombonist’s “Waiting to Continue” for the ensemble, and to recognize the Thad Jones Centennial and tap into Gilkes’ knowledge and expertise as the lead player in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (the modern-day incarnation of what began as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra), the band prepared Jones’ “Don’t Get Sassy” and “It Only Happens Every Time.”

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of experiences like this,” HHS Jazz Band Director Dan Bilawsky said. “For students to have the chance to sit in front of a musician of Marshall GIlkes’ caliber, receive advice on music directly connected to his artistic pursuits and play beside him offers educational value beyond measure. It’s something these students will never forget.”

Huntington’s New Music Course

Huntington School Board members have approved a new high school music course titled, “Contemporary Music: Jazz, Hip-hop, Rap & More.” The class will be available in the 2024/25 school year. The one semester course will be open to students in grades 9-12. Enrollment is estimated to total 40.

“This course will examine contemporary music, beginning in or around the 1920’s,” states the course description presented to trustees. “It will focus on the influence of jazz on hip-hop and rap, and take a close look at various musical genres. It will allow students to discuss and explore influential artists, composers and musicians, and their impact on music history, culture, and politics. Students will take a close look at the aesthetics and creativity of several different periods in history. They will discover the origins of the music to which they may currently listen. No prior experience in music is necessary for enrollment in this course.”

The sounds of strings filled the halls at Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School as
members of the third- and fourth-grade orchestras, along with Harborfields High School orchestra students, joined the fifth-grade orchestra, under the direction of Nick Rinaldi, for their final rehearsal before their concert. This annual String Day, coordinated by Rinaldi, with the assistance of orchestra teachers Greg Antonelli and Cathy Ferraro, had students of all ages playing scales and folk songs together.

Following the rehearsal, the fifth-grade orchestra broke off into sectional rehearsals led by the high school students.


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