By Janice Llanes Fabry
The sound of music will resonate throughout the Rye Neck Middle/High School campus March 28 and 29 when the school, for the first time, hosts the annual Down County New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Festival. The number of musicians expected — 1,737 from 33 schools — far exceeds Rye Neck’s student body of 1,500.
Orchestrating the event are Middle School Principal Eric Lutinski and Music teacher Caitlin Corvini.
“After meeting with NYSSMA and discussing school size and staff, we concluded that we could get it done here,” said Lutinski, who expects 130 students per hour coming through their doors. “We also received excellent help from our predecessors at Hommocks in Mamaroneck and Port Chester.”
Currently fine-tuning logistics, Lutinski is supervising all the building management details, i.e. volunteers, custodial assistance, food catering, and hotel reservations for judges. Corvini is handling all the musical aspects and scheduling the adjudicators and musicians. The organizers have also hired sound engineers to set up the sound system in the venue.
Corvini is delighted to have 30 students from Rye Neck participating. “The festival gives the kids validation of what they’re working on with their music teachers and what we do in the schools,” she said.
NYSSMA was created to advance music education across the state and has set definitive standards for instrument and voice education. Approximately 100,000 students participate annually in spring adjudication festivals. While some students choose only to be evaluated, many audition for All County and All State competitions. Students are generally adjudicated on seven categories: tone, intonation, technique, accuracy, interpretation, scales, and sight-reading.
As for Rye Neck’s prominent role this year, Lutinski is delighted about the way communities have come together. Not only has he assembled faculty, parents and students, who will be greeting guests, checking in participants, and distributing snacks, but he appreciates the collaboration between counterparts at the other schools, the music community, and NYSSMA zone representatives.
“This has also been a nice way for our music department to work together,” he added.
“Our music teachers are autonomous and work in separate buildings, so this has been a good opportunity that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”