North High musicians seek to inspire younger audience

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Dozens of students hoped to inspire their younger counterparts to become involved in music in the northern half of the Great Neck school district. (Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)
Dozens of students hoped to inspire their younger counterparts to become involved in music in the northern half of the Great Neck school district. (Photo courtesy of Great Neck Public Schools)

Instrumental musicians from Great Neck North High School presented the 28th annual Young Peoples Concert for an audience of elementary and middle school students on Dec. 20.

This year’s program focused on music by French composers and featured selections by Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Cesar Franck, Maurice Ravel, and Camille Saint Saëns. The concert concluded with a rousing rendition of “Mambo” from “West Side Story.” This finale has become a tradition at the Young Peoples Concert, with young students singing the refrain while their teachers perform a conga line through the auditorium.

The Young Peoples Concert was created in 1991 to inspire young musicians and increase the number of students participating in the secondary instrumental music program. The audience is traditionally comprised of fifth graders from elementary schools that “feed into” North Middle and North High––E. M. Baker, John F. Kennedy, and Saddle Rock schools. This year’s audience also included approximately 50 students from North Middle School.

Since its inception, the Young Peoples Concert has been organized by Joseph Rutkowski, instrumental music teacher at North High. For the inaugural performance, the North High band had 29 members and the orchestra had 16 members; the band and orchestra now boast enrollments of more than 80 students each.

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