Patchogue-Medford High School held their Spring Concert II on Tuesday, May 25th. It featured the Concert Orchestra, the Choral Ensemble, and the Wind Ensemble. For the many musical seniors this was the last high school concert in which they would ever participate; this colored the entire evening with a bittersweet hue.
The show began with the Concert Orchestra, directed by Scott Zarchy. The first selection was a rousing rendition of "Hopak" from "The Fair at Sorochinsk" by Modest Mussourgsky. Zarchy explained this to be, "Russian carnival music."
Then the group performed one of the most famous soprano arias, "Habanera" from the opera "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. This evocative piece was accompanied by the superbly nuanced vocals of Mary Abrams.
They finished their set with "Farandole" from "L'Arlesienne Suite no. 2" also by Bizet. Beforehand, Zarchy informed it was considered "incidental music", which is music written as a dramatic backdrop for a soundtrack. The director prefaced this number saying, "You can almost hear the wheels turning to the plot as you follow along."
An emotional Zarchy said, "This is the time of year that I start not to like; it means I'm close to losing some really amazing seniors I've had for four years. These seniors were the freshman class when I started teaching."
The Choral Ensemble directed by Brian Reich began with two a cappella selections: "Look to this Day" by Patterson and TL de Victoria's "O Vos Omnes."
Then the singers performed "Of Crows and Clusters" by Norman Dello Joio with piano accompaniment. Reich said, "It's an awesome piece; the kids have grown to love it. You'll see the excitement." The quirky song created quite a buzz.
The ensemble ended with "It's Time for Movin On" by Besig also with piano accompaniment. This sentimental selection was dedicated to the seniors in the group. They were asked to step forward for the swan song of their high school career.
Reich said, "We're losing more than half the group. They'll be moving on to college." He added, "It's an absolute honor to watch — since 9th grade — the wonderful young men and women you've become."
The lyrics "We've traveled a long, long time together ... Now it's almost time for leaving." and "Don't forget yesterday" no doubt brought a tear to the eyes of students and parents alike, as one door closed with another about to open. It received a standing ovation.
Eye-catching artwork from the previous week's art show and awards were still on display in the hallway proving Patchogue-Medford has just as many talented artists as it does musicians.
Raffles were held and refreshments were sold to raise money for a scholarship to give to at least one of the seniors.
Legislator Jack Eddington was on hand to present a proclamation to Wind Ensemble Director Peter Randazzo on behalf of Suffolk County for a performance given at Carnegie Hall in March. They were one of three high school musical groups in the Northeast chosen by Best Bands International.
Legislator Eddington said, "What a great tribute to Patchogue, what we've seen tonight ... I took a ride with the strings; I swear I heard angel's voices in that second piece; and I know we'll be blown away by the Wind Ensemble."
Randazzo was given a pleasant surprise by the Wind Ensemble as they appeared on stage wearing plastic rain jackets. Randazzo explained that every year the seniors pull a prank on him. They chose this particular trick because, "In the heat of battle, a little sweat drips off the tip of my nose."
After discarding the jackets the Wind Ensemble began with "A Day at the Carnival" by Dave Bobrowitz and Kenneth Soper which Randazzo called a "great romp."
This was followed in stark contrast by the second and third movements of Vaclav Nelhybel's "Trittico." Randazzo explained that the composer was a Jew during WWII, brutalized by the Nazis. His compositions were his response. "He's really, really mad," said Randazzo.
"I've been teaching 31 years and never been to Carnegie Hall, except as a guest ... I have a special place in my heart for the parents; you made them feel like it was the Rolling Stones coming on stage," said Randazzo to the families in the audience.
They finished the evening with "Puszta" by Jan Van der Roost. Randazzo promised this would send the audience away with, "peaceful happy thoughts." He added with a smile, "If you feel like dancing in the aisles—pull it back."