Purchase at Port Chester

Guest conductors share knowledge with music students

Members of the Port Chester High School band, choir and orchestra were treated to the expertise of several musicians recently when members of the SUNY Purchase music faculty visited their classrooms. 

SUNY Purchase Chorus Director David Recca, Purchase College School of Arts Director Jenny Undercofler, Visiting Assistant Professor and Orchestra Director Mina Kim and Lecturer of Music and trombonist Jack Schatz spent the day with high school students discussing music, serving as guest conductors and offering insights into the history of music. 

Coming off of their award-winning season, the PCHS band learned about music by the Beatles from Mr. Schatz. This year the band’s performance was an homage to the boys from Liverpool.

“I am so glad to be here today,” Mr. Schatz said. “I was thrilled to see you were doing Beatles music. They were four genius musicians. The beauty of their music is that every song had a story.” 

He shared details about different songs, including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” and how Sir Paul McCartney came up with its title. He also shared details about who Eleanor Rigby was and how that song was created. 

The choir practiced next door. Conducted by Mr. Recca, they rehearsed “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” With an older song, Mr. Recca said, the key is to make it fresh for a new audience who may be hearing it for the first time. 

The students also practiced the song “TaReKiTa” by Reena Esmail, an Indian American composer. Mr. Recca, who knows Ms. Esmail, told the singers that she wished them luck. 

Ms. Kim spent time in the auditorium, speaking with orchestra students. 

“I am so proud of you guys,” Katherine Sinsabaugh, supervisor of fine and performing arts, told the students. “We are so honored that Purchase is here spending this time.” 

In the afternoon, students had an opportunity to learn from Dr. Undercofler about why they should study music in college and what they can do with a music degree. 

“We are fortunate to have such a prominent SUNY school in our backyard,” said Ms. Sinsabaugh. “Our work with Purchase gave our students a window into the art world – in particular, a lens where they can see what college expectations are and how they might participate. All students need to be exposed to college and career opportunities.”