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Fox Lane Chamber Orchestra Achieves Highest Rating at NYSSMA Majors Festival

Ensemble musicians pose together after the NYSSMA Majors Festival

“Superbly performed. Beautiful and heartwarming. Great playing all sections! Bravo and congratulations! Bedford can be proud of your wonderful string orchestra! Thank you for your fine program.”

“You have a fabulous orchestra! Congrats to all of you and the outstanding work your teacher/conductor is doing. Your community should be very proud of this ensemble!”

These are just two of the effusive judges’ remarks for Fox Lane High School Chamber Orchestra’s recent performance at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Majors Festival. The ensemble was awarded a Gold with Distinction rating — the highest rating an ensemble can achieve at the state competition.

“The 2022 Chamber Orchestra was the 19th group I have prepared for NYSSMA Majors,” said Janine Bergamini, the director of orchestras at Fox Lane High School. “This Majors was particularly special and important to me as it was first time presenting the Fox Lane High School Chamber Orchestra.”

Bergamini, who was proud to have gotten her second consecutive level 6 Gold with Distinction rating, noted that part of what made this group of student musicians stand out was the exceptional leadership of her seniors.

“When we began in the fall, I told my senior officers that much of our success as an orchestra comes from them. They help set the tone and a positive example,” she said.

At the same time, Bergamini’s senior musicians had much to say about her leadership.

“None of this would be possible without the efforts of Mrs. Bergamini,” said Jake Tetenman, a violinist. “There were times when I was worried everything wouldn’t come together, but she never gave up and allowed us to realize our full potential — something for which we’re all incredibly grateful. And, more importantly, she still managed to make orchestra fun despite pushing us.”

“Mrs. Bergamini put so much time and effort into helping us become better musicians,” Rose Margolies, who also plays the violin, added. “Her commitment and support are amazing and very much appreciated.”

Jake and Rose agreed that the best part of the Majors Festival experience was the way they were able to close out their high school music careers.

“My favorite part of this experience was ending my high school orchestra career on a high note,” Jake said. “We worked so hard together for so many years, so it feels amazing being able to end with such a great accomplishment.” 

Adam Schwalbe, a cellist, said his favorite aspect was the music.

“For my entire orchestra career, we have mostly played music written for school orchestras,” Adam said. “But with Mrs. Bergamini, all of that changed and we got to play very challenging pieces.”

Adam said the most challenging part about the experience for him was the performance pressure.

“You can practice your part all the live long day, but there is nothing to prepare you for the huge rush of adrenaline and cortisol that comes with the stage and the spotlight.”

Jake had a different experience.

“The most challenging part for me as the concertmaster wasn’t learning the music — although it was very difficult — but rather learning to trust the orchestra,” he said. “I always had confidence in each section’s players, but there were some very difficult parts in sections other than my own and their performance was essentially out of my control. I had to learn to trust them to perform well and stay together — and they exceeded all expectations. Without trust, the orchestra will fall apart.”

Rose said that Bergamini taught them the importance of working together.

“Mrs. Bergamini always emphasized playing as a group, not individually,” she said. “Orchestra is like a team sport.”

Bergamini noted the importance of working together when she reflected on the group’s success.

“I truly believe that our success comes from the sum of our parts, not on the efforts of one or a few individuals,” she said. “We have strong leadership on all levels, skilled educators K-12 and a supportive community. Most of all we have outstanding, committed, and unstoppable students. I feel very lucky to be the director of this orchestra. We had a great year!”

The love of music that has been instilled in the members of the Chamber Orchestra shone brightly.

“I’ve taken extensive science, math, foreign language, English, and history courses and, while I appreciate (and have taken full advantage of) all Fox Lane has to offer in these departments, I can guarantee that I would not have been as academically successful as I was without music,” Jake said. “One way in which orchestra has benefitted my high school career is by allowing me to switch off my ‘academic’ brain and turn on my ‘creative’ brain — so while I still have to think and concentrate during orchestra, I get a well-needed rest to push me through the rest of my day. Music became an incredibly necessary part of my day and I can’t imagine not having it.” 

 

Congratulations to the entire Chamber Orchestra for such incredible success!

Daniel Agnello, Violin 

Rachel Akinla, Viola

Cami Bly, Cello

Jordan Brown, Cello

Charlotte Cape, Bass

Elianna Castellucci, Violin

Emma Eckert, Viola

Oliver Fishlin, Bass

Harry Griff, Violin

Samuel Griff, Cello

Isaac Ham, Violin

Lauren Horowitz, Violin

Anthony Ingraldi, Violin

Jonah Kim, Cello

Margaret Kuo-Reed, Violin

Hannah Laskaris, Viola

Rose Margolies, Violin

Michael Mazurek, Bass

Olivia McCarthy, Viola

Elizabeth McCormack, Violin

Erick Morales, Viola

James Nagel, Violin

Adam Schwalbe, Cello

Jake Tetenman, Violin