Island Musicians Shine in State/National Competitions

The “pistons are firing on all cylinders” in the music machine at 1100 Ransom Road!  Evidence the presentations in both State and National competitions by the performance ensembles of the Veronica Connor Middle School and Grand Island Senior High School.  Here are the results for grades 6 – 12:


6,7,8 Grades            Singcopations vocal ensemble            NYS level 3              Gold

6,7,8 Grades            String Orchestra                                 NYS level 3              Gold

6       Grade            Band                                                    NYS level 2              Gold with Distinction

7,8    Grades             Concert Band                                      NYS level 3              Gold with Distinction

9-12 Grades            Choir                                                    NYS level 3              Gold

10-12 Grades            Concert Choir                                      NYS level 6              Gold with Distinction

9-12 Grades            Orchestra                                             Grand National            Excellent

9-12 Grades            Concert Band                                      Grand National            Superior

9-12 Grades            Wind Ensemble                                  Grand National            Superior 

The New York State School Music Association holds performance-rating festivals each spring at sites throughout the State.  Music is graded according to level of difficulty, with level 1 being the most basic and level 6 the most difficult. Mrs. Sarah Russo’s 6th Grade Band, received the Gold rating in level 2.  The Connor 6th Grade Band’s Gold rating carried the special honor “with Distinction.”  This means that the judges felt the performance was not only extremely well-performed, but that it pressed over into the category of being one of the finest performances  possible at that level.  Mr. Clarke Elliott’s 7th & 8th Grade Concert Band, Mrs. Annalea Masiello’s “Singcopations” choir, and Miss Debra Remson’s Middle School String Orchestra all performed at level 3, and the 7th & 8th Grade Concert Band was also honored “with Distinction.” 

Mrs. Carolyn Lokken took both her High School Choir and Concert Choir to the New York State Competition Festival in Williamsville, and her Choir received a gold rating in level 3 music, while her Concert Choir performed at level 6 – the most difficult level possible, and was honored with the Gold rating “with Distinction.”

Mr. Marty Allen and Miss Debra Remson took their high school instrumental ensembles to the highly prestigious Grand National Invitational Competition in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  This festival is only open to groups who have previously won the overall awards at regional competitions.  This is truly a festival of champions, and our Grand Island ensembles were at the head of the field!  Miss Remson’s High School String Orchestra performed the most difficult level 6 music and received a rating of Excellent.  Mr. Allen conducted both the Concert Band (level 5) and Wind Ensemble (level 6), and both these groups received the highest rating possible of Superior.  In addition, separate awards were presented at this festival for outstanding sections of instruments, as well as for individual solo performances within the performance selections.  Grand Island received these special awards:


Outstanding Percussion Section:            Grand Island H.S.  Concert Band

Outstanding Soloist – piccolo             Shannon O’Brien

Outstanding Soloist – Eb clarinet Emily Pifer

Outstanding Soloist – Soprano sax            Margaret Kiehl

Outstanding Soloist – trumpet Kevin Laurendi

Outstanding Soloist – trombone            Greg Lazelle 

How fortunate we are, as a community, to have a program which produces at such a high level of excellence in all areas of musical performance.  Congratulations to our outstanding Island musicians!!