Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Matthew Sisia, a high school music teacher, has been a source of pride and professionalism for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District since 2003. His love and deep understanding of what he teaches earns respect from his students and inspires them to be the best they can be. This level of quality has taken Oyster Bay High School musicians to places that most high school musicians never see. In 2008, Sisia’s band played the world premiere of a piece called “Groove” composed by Dr. Shelly Hanson. In March of 2010, Sisia and the combined Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band were invited to perform at Carnegie Hall.
At Oyster Bay High School, Sisia directs the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Pit Orchestra, and serves as advisor for the Tri-M Honor Society. Sisia, who holds degrees from Pennsylvania State University and the Crane School of Music, is currently a doctoral student at the Hartt School. He has held positions as both the associate conductor of bands and adjunct professor in music education at Long Island University. He is the founder and director of the New York Chamber Ensemble and serves on the executive board of the College Band Directors National Association and the Nassau Music Educators Association.
Every two years, Yale University selects fifty music teachers from the entire United States to honor with the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award. Recipients are invited to attend as Yale’s guests to the Symposium on Music in Schools at the Yale School of Music as part of its Music in Schools Initiative. Sisia will receive his award at the Symposium’s awards dinner on Saturday, June 8 in New Haven.
Sisia’s talents will be center stage for two concerts this spring at Oyster Bay High School. The Symphonic Band will share the stage with the Chamber Singers on Wednesday, May 15 at 8 p.m. in the OBHS PAC (Performing Arts Center). The Wind Ensemble and Mixed Chorus will perform on Tuesday, May 21 at 8 p.m. in the PAC.
The concert on May 21 will mark another milestone for Sisia and his Wind Ensemble as they debut a new piece by composer Paul Moravec, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Moravec has composed over one hundred works for the orchestral, chamber, choral, lyric, film, and operatic genres. He is a professor at Adelphi University and recently served as the Artist-in-Residence with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.
Paul Moravec’s numerous awards include the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and two fellowships from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as many commissions.
Moravec spent a day with the Wind Ensemble practicing and answering questions about his new piece called “Change at Jamaica,” about the Long Island Rail Road. (Some may recognize a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “North by Northwest” starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint featuring the train “20th Century Limited” that for years rode out of Grand Central Station for points west.)
Afterwards, Mr. Moravic said that he was “blown away” by the playing of the Oyster Bay High School musicians.