By: Brianna Kalina
High School East’s very own modern guitar ensemble had the exceptional opportunity to attend the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference (NYSSMA) this past December. This group of students traveled to Rochester to perform as one of 8 schools selected across the entire state of New York. The Hills East Guitar Ensemble is composed of 25 students who meet in a class each day throughout the school year. What is so remarkable about the ensemble is that the students do not use sheet music; they listen and find their personal favorite music and come together to figure out how to actually play these pieces. The journey to the conference was a little rocky, but it makes for a great story. When the bus arrived to take the ensemble to Rochester, it was discovered that the bus did not pass its inspection. After waiting hours for another bus to be sent, it was found that this new bus also was not inspected! In utter panic, School Transportation Supervisor Maurita Simpson and Bus Driver Pierre saved the day by driving the students and all of their complex equipment up to Rochester just in time for the performance. Some may say it was a musical miracle! At the conference, the ensemble received a personal congratulations from the president of NYSSMA, along with swarms of compliments from other important figures. The group performed in front of music teachers from across the state, showcasing high quality musicianship. In addition to huge honors such as this one, the ensemble was previously recognized this summer by the town of Huntington in recognition of outstanding musical achievement and for winning the 5th annual Long Island Music Hall of Fame Recognition Program. The hard work and talent of our very own guitar ensemble should be honored and remembered as they represent our school in such a positive light. Check out the Hills East Youtube channel below to watch the performances!