For more than five decades, musicians from Valley Stream’s three high schools have been coming together to perform for the community. The 56th annual District Music Festival was held on March 15, with a morning performance for students and an evening concert for everyone else.
The program featured selections from the District Symphony Orchestra, the District Mixed Chorus and the District Concert Band. Students from Central, North and South high schools, as well as ninth-graders at Memorial Junior High, had to audition to be selected for the respective groups.
Once the musicians were chosen, students practiced together for about three weeks in the evenings. Todd Holly, the Central High School District’s director of fine and performing arts, said it takes a serious commitment to be a member of the district orchestra, band or chorus. Some students took part in more than one.
Holly said the choices are often tough for the conductors. “There’s lot of talented musicians,” he said. “We look to select the best overall.”
During the morning concert, sixth-graders from Valley Stream’s 10 elementary schools filled the Keller Auditorium at Central High School. It has been a long tradition to give elementary students a sneak peak of the concert. Holly said the musicians play all the same selections as they do in the evening performance.
Cynthia Shannon, a band and orchestra teacher at Willow Road School in District 13, said the trip is a positive experience for her students, especially those who will go on to sing or play an instrument in high school. “It makes them think if they work really hard where they could end up being someday,” she said.
Shannon said the program was upbeat and her students really enjoyed it.
The instrumental musicians from the high school district who are chosen for the music festival are eligible to perform with the Community Band and District Symphony Orchestra, which play at the John Smith Bandshell on the Village Green each summer.
The orchestra was led by Rebecca Hayden and the band director was Dan Creegan. Conducting the chorus was Dr. Thomas Zatorski.