Newburgh Free Academy music students recently visited the Empire State Plaza in Albany to perform in the Concourse. Their performances were in celebration of Music in Our Schools Month.
The NFA Main Campus students consisted of the Chamber Strings, the Robert D. Williams Tenor Bass Chorus, and the Madrigal Singers. To be a part of this celebration, music teachers throughout New York State submitted applications for their groups to perform. The purpose of these special performances is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all students.
The event was sponsored by the New York State School Music Association. Funding for NFA’s trip was made possible through the Connect Kids Grant.
Music in Our Schools Month reminds political officials, school administrators and all citizens that school is where all children must have access to a quality education that includes music.
At the conclusion of their performances, the students were presented with an honorary plaque in recognition of their stellar efforts. The music teachers hope to return with their groups to Albany next year to perform again and hopefully shake hands with a local senator or assemblyman.
NFA students reflected on their experiences in Albany.
Brian Baxtor, a junior at NFA, said, “As an aspiring musician and music teacher, this trip, and possibly more to come, are incredibly important and meaningful to me. Not only does it further my performing experience, it also gives me the opportunity to share the wonders of music to ordinary, everyday people, which is possibly my most important goal as a musician. Music isn’t just some pretty noises, it’s culture, it’s community, and it’s freedom. To share that with the people of our world is to share the joy of life. This trip is only a small part of this mission to spread music, but it’s an imperative precedent to set for our district and its music department.”
Ghaniya Shahkhan, an NFA junior, added, “This trip was important to me because it was another amazing opportunity for our music groups to perform in front of a live audience. I believe that it is important for us as musicians to keep practicing and gain exposure throughout our musical experiences and this trip allowed us to showcase our talents in front of a larger group of people and go out of our comfort zones and try something new. During this trip I learned many things about myself as well as the groups as a whole. The way everyone was able to adjust to the new environment and communicate with each other was really nice to see and it only made us better musicians and teamworkers.”
Elizabeth Mahoney, a senior at NFA, observed, “This trip was very important for the progression of our chamber strings group, as well as the music department in our school. Representing the positive aspects of Newburgh in this trip and representing our school was very important to our ensemble.”
Megan Torres, an NFA senior, explained, “This trip was important to me as a member of Madrigals because it can show the public how hard we work and progress as different ensembles. (It) shows that the time and dedication that chorus takes away from our normal class time…is always used wisely and appropriately. Not everyone understands what really goes on and how much time and patience it takes into putting on a concert or show every semester. And letting that show over time can really put things into perspective for those who maybe have never been in a chorus classroom.”
Brian Baxter, a junior at NFA, noted, “If I were to meet either [our Senator or Assemblyman], I would tell them all about the sense of community I find in the music department of our school, especially within the individual ensembles I am a part of. We are all friends who like to share music with one another…. Many of these people are people I can put my trust into. So really, it’s the people we meet in our journey in sharing music that makes it worth it.”