When Hewlett High School juniors Rose Generoso, Jasmine Pei, Maria Suleymanov and Laurie Antoine met in select chorus in eighth grade, they couldn’t predict that they would be singing at district events some four years later.
Each of the girls has been surrounded by music, in one form or another, all their lives. Antoine’s older sister, Sasha, was the musician in the family. “I followed in her footsteps,” she said.
Pei grew up playing the piano and caught the attention of the District Director of Music Kevin Bayen. “When she came to Hewlett in fifth grade her music teacher called me and said, ‘you have to come hear this girl play the piano,’ so I went over and after hearing her I thought, “oh my God this girl can play!,” he said.
Suleymanov was shy at an early age but began singing at Woodmere Middle School and went on to try out for various school plays. Generoso has always been around music. “People had no idea I could sing,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I guess I’m good at this.’”
The flow of their harmonies is what the quartet enjoys most about singing together. While Antoine and Suleymanov like to sing jazz and R&B songs, Pei and Generoso said they are fond of singing all different kinds of songs. “I like taking pieces of songs,” Generoso said. “It makes me better and provides for different points of view.”
On Jan. 28 the quartet sung the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Five Towns Community Chest’s annual meeting at the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library. Singing in front of strangers doesn’t give Antoine anxiety as she has been performing since third grade. “I only get nervous in front of my family and friends,” she said.
Generoso has learned not to over think the performances to avoid feeling nervous. Pei and Suleymanov, however, get worried beforehand, but once they’re on stage, they’re able to relax. “I’m calm after a few minutes,” Pei said.
“I get nervous a lot before it but once I hit a high note, I’m more comfortable,” Suleymanov added.
The fact that the quartet took it upon themselves to work together shows Bayen how special they really are. “They care about each other and though there’s a lot of competition in music, there isn’t any of that between them,” he said. “Their friendship is just as powerful as their music.”