By Janee Law
Five Cold Spring Harbor High School students have earned New York State honors in music.
Seniors Harrison Cohen and Catherine Khanamirian were selected for All-State Mixed Chorus, while junior Ryan McLaughlin was selected as an All-State alternate for trumpet and junior Alec Israeli was selected as an All-State alternate for jazz piano.
Erwin Li was also selected to the New York State School Music Association Piano Showcase. Although this is not an All-State ensemble Brent Chiarello, K-12 music chairperson, said it is a state honor.
“They pick 12 out of 80 students throughout the state for that,” he said. “As far as the school districts are concerned, that’s basically an All-State ensemble for a piano player because it’s very difficult to be accepted.”
The students were honored by Cold Spring Harbor school board members during their at the Sept. 13 meeting.
Each year, from March to June, students attend the NYSSMA Solo Festival, where they can choose to play a piece at the All-State level. Cold Spring Harbor students performed their All-State pieces in May at Syosset High School.
During the summer, Chiarello said, judges take the top scores from students who participated in All-State solos and then selected the All-State ensembles.
In order to make All-State, a score of 100 on the NYSSMA evaluation is required, which means “you have to be perfect,” Chiarello said.
He added, “It takes hours of practice on the pieces alone, but before you can even get to that point of performing an All-State solo, it takes hours of practice from when you started your instrument.”
On Dec. 2, Cohen and Khanamirian will be performing in the All-State Conference at the Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall in Rochester, while Li will perform at the NYSSMA Piano Showcase at the Lilac Ballroom at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
“These students have been pillars of their ensembles here at Cold Spring Harbor since they were younger and they worked hard to get here,” Chiarello said. “It’s great that they’re able to do this and their peers and the students who are coming after them are able to look up to them as leaders in their specific field.”
Since McLaughlin and Israeli are alternates, they are not expected to perform at the All-State convention but are runners up for their field.
“These students are the top musicians in the state but I would even go as so far to say these are one of the top student musicians around the country,” Chiarello said. “New York is very competitive and the students who make New York All-State end up going on to be some of the best musicians that are out there.”