'A dream come to life': Valley Stream Central High School District concert takes center stage at Carnegie Hall

This legendary NYC stage is the site of district concert.


To performers the world over Carnegie Hall is synonymous with enduring musical renown. Its dazzling auditoriums have played host to household names like Tchaikovsky and the Beatles whose performances have been flashpoints of musical history.

So, when the best student musicians at Valley Stream Central High School District were given the chance to play their hearts out at the hall’s renowned Stern Auditorium, it was — directly — a dream come true. On April 4, adoring attendees filled the seats at Stern to listen to the district’s 66th Annual Music Scholarship Festival.

The event doubly raised funds for three music scholarships handed to three deserving seniors: Tinatin Narimanidze from Central High School, Layla Rutledge from North High School, and Christian Crawford from South High School.


The immersive magic of Carnegie Hall 

Members of the orchestra, chorus, band, and performing arts group, decked in formal black attire, shook up the hall with astonishing performances. Students delighted in what cultural observers have long praised as the sonic magic produced by the hall’s pristine acoustic quality. The hall’s structure — with its domed ceiling and smooth curvature — was engineered with the ear in mind. The result is an experience where the listener feels enveloped in a distinctly rich, warm soundscape and a performer’s tune or voice fully resonates. 

Narimanidze, a prodigious violinist and the orchestra’s concertmaster could not agree more.

“When we had our soundcheck, we were just shocked,” said Narimanidze, a first-time visitor.

“When we played a whole piece through during the soundcheck, the moment we ended and I cut them off, the sound reverberated out,” said Tara Zamorano, Narimanidze’s orchestra teacher. There was a flash of awe in her students’ smiles at that final note, said Zamorano, which confirmed for her “the feeling I had in my heart.”   

“It was magical,” she said.


Valley Stream virtuosos take the stage

And it was not merely the students who wanted to soak in every minute of playing time on that auditorium stage. For the rare grandness that is Carnegie Hall, teachers broke with the normal custom of a single orchestra, band, and choir conductor for the entire program and instead agreed to have each teacher conduct a piece.

The student musicians both played the role of performer and audience member, sitting to watch each other on stage after their time in the spotlight. Narimanidze and Zamorano marveled at how excellent everyone performed, showing serious stage presence.

“There’s nothing like performing on a professional stage,” said Zamorano. “And I think that there is something to be said for different musicians and student performers having the experience of playing on a professional stage. It’s different. I can’t tell you what’s different about it. It’s intangible.”

“We’ve all been talking about this for months,” said Crawford, a beloved choral student who was mesmerized to receive his scholarship award “on the best hall in the best stage in the world.”

“Hearing how beautiful all of our voices sound as one unified voice coming together and seeing the look on our teacher’s faces when all their hard work finally came to fruition, I feel like everybody’s dream came to life,” he said.

Craword’s teacher, Rita DiFano, said conducting at Carnegie Hall was a personal moment for her, having sung at district concerts starting in ninth grade as a choir student at Valley Stream Central in the late 90s.

“It was a coming full circle experience,” she said.

Rutledge, a talented cellist, felt goosebumps at the thought that “some of the pieces that we played that day were written by composers who’ve conducted at Carnegie Hall.”

Her orchestra teacher, Rebecca Hayden, said seeing the culmination of roughly 124 string players from each school performing a selection of genre-spanning pieces under four conductors and with only three free rehearsals represents “an awful lot of work,” but the results were put simply “amazing.”

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