Summer concert series kicks off in West Hempstead


“We enjoy playing ensemble music, collaborative music, a harmony — playing together creates an enjoyable atmosphere,” said Stephen O’Reilly, 53, a clarinet player for the North Shore Pops Concert Band, which performed in West Hempstead last Sunday. “We’re always very excited. We love the feedback and everyone plays for the love of music.”

The free concert was the first of four this summer hosted by the West Hempstead Community Support Association in conjunction with Astoria Federal Bank. All of the concerts, said Rosalie Norton, president of the Community Support Association, will be held at the Echo Park baseball field in West Hempstead.

“This will be the seventh year we’ve had these free open concerts for everybody,” Norton said. “A proposal was originally made by a board member, Marshall Myers. We started relatively modestly. Then we grew and got sponsorships, and we started booking larger groups.”

According to Norton, the North Shore Pops Concert Band has been involved in the annual concert series a number of times. “It has become very routine that they play here,” she said. “Their conductor, Eric Albinder, is the director of music for West Hempstead public schools.”

The 45-piece band includes clarinets, oboes, French horns, trombones, flutes, and other wind instruments, O’Reilly said, noting that its members are from all over Long Island, from Nassau to Suffolk County. Some members are even from Queens.

The concert, which began at 6:30 p.m., featured a medley of Cole Porter and Stevie Wonder tunes, songs from “The Producers” and a selection of numbers from Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, including “If I Loved You” and “June is Bustin’ Out All Over,” sung by vocalists Maureen Smith-Setten of Baldwin and Howard Minnerly of Seaford.

Norton estimated that roughly 70 percent of concert attendees are West Hempstead residents, but that performances do attract people from across Long Island.

Bruce Joungblood, 61, of Franklin Square, was one of more than 30 who attended the event. “I work for Catalanno Music in New Hyde Park, and I know a lot of the band members through there,” he said. “Concerts like these are great because they get people out, especially the elderly. They get out of the house, get fresh air and hear music they love.”

For more information about the concert series, please call (516) 733-0879.