Retired Roslyn High music director to play Lefrak Hall

Ian Kay joined Roslyn High School in 1976, to serve in “an unusual role” as both the band and orchestra director.

He would stay at the school for the next 20 years before retiring as one of its longest serving music teacher.

Kay said he has taught hundreds of students, even producing stars along the way like Wendy Liebman and Bob Sands.

After a long and illustrious teaching career, Kay retired from teaching and went back on the road.

In April, he’ll return to play Lefrak Hall at Queens College, his alma mater.

“It would be an icing on the cake to be able to see my old students again to see how they’ve fared,” Kay said.

He said he initially wanted to organize a get together which was too complicated.

“Instead I just decided to play a show with some of the best musicians and singers from Long Island,” he said.

An Erasmus High School graduate in Brooklyn, he was classmates with Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Lainie Kazan, Artie Butler, and Gabe Kaplan who went on to become musical stars.

Kay went on to college at Queens College to get his bachelors degree in music and would later earn a masters in education.

“At the time, my professors hated jazz because they were all trained in the classical arts,” he said.

After college, he returned to his alma mater, and became the choral director and then band director. 

“I’ve never had an experience with 100 girl chorus in the city and I was lucky to get it,” Kay said. “I took over a fantastic chorus any music teacher could ever had.”

The girls’ chorus, which he taught for several years from elementary school to high school, went on to play at the Lincoln Center in 1973.

In 1975, he was laid off from his job in Brooklyn.

A position opened up at Woodmere middle school, which at the time was the best music school in New York, he said

“I took a job at Woodmere in Long Island and worked there for about a year,” Kay said. “That was how I ended up at Roslyn High.”

As a music teacher, Kay continued to play at night and on weekends. 

“I tried to do everything I could possibly do musically just to get the experience,” Kay said in a phone interview.

He said he wanted to touch every facet of music so he played the cabaret for a couple of years in Manhattan, became a wedding singer, performed principal roles in theater productions and numerous solo jazz performances. 

He even played doo wop group.

He said he acted in musical and theater productions throughout his career, and has recorded CDs in several genres. 

His latest jazz CD recorded in 2014 with an ensemble called “Ian Kay Sings The American Songbook.”

Kay has performed at the Duck Pond, playing in tandem with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra for 10 years, and the numerous concerts at Roslyn High.

From his very first musical with Wendy Liebman, as Liza in “My Fair Lady” to Bob Sands, an international tenor sax phenom who holds court in Madrid, Spain, Kay has done it all. 

“She’s now a famous comedian and Bob lives in Spain travelling and playing around the world,” Kay said.

With music chosen from Doo wop, swing, Motown, disco, jazz fusion, and solo jazz performances. 

The show will present the debut of Ian Kay and the OKs, and a sensational all female singing group, the NY Belles, former graduates of Five Towns College on L.I. 

They will be backed by an all-star cast of jazz musicians the N.Y. Little Big Band,., led by Leon Petruzzi, veteran Broadway trumpeter and professor of trumpet at Hofstra University. 

“This show is an eclectic presentation that represents my journey through life,” he said. 

About the author

Adedamola Agboola

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