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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Smithtown High School West’s Winter Concert with Alumni


Orchestra and Choir Directors Joseph Cotignola and Jim Brosnan, respectively, invited former students back to play some of the most iconic songs routinely played during the winter concert series on Thursday, December 22.

“Sleigh Ride” holds a special place with many students and their families. During “Sleigh Ride,” two large snow machines dispatch a quick storm upon the lower levels of the auditorium, and Santa is prone to visiting.

For former orchestra students, this meant performing “Sleigh Ride,” “Radetzky March” and “Hallelujah.” For former choir students, this means a joint performance of Hallelujah with the orchestra.

The endeavor has grown throughout the years with each graduating class. One alum playing was a member of the Class of 2008. A Class of 2011 graduate was also a standout performer. This is the third time the orchestra has invited back former students.

It is estimated that 50 members of the orchestra returned, and a comparable amount from the choir. The stage swelled as dozens of string players emerged with instruments in hand to take their place in the orchestra.

“Each year on the first day of school, I tell the current students that as a member of the Symphonic Orchestra, they share a connection to the musicians of the orchestra who have graduated and are no longer in class,” said Cotignola. “The Alumni performance is the embodiment of this statement and something that I hope to continue doing for many years to come.”

During “Radetzky March,” typically, Cotignola shakes the hands of all of his students on stage. However, this year’s stage was so full that it was impossible to traverse past the several immediate rows of music stands. With many of this year’s seniors looking to return next year, it begs the question of whether the stage will be able to accommodate the legions of alumni planning on attending the winter concert in subsequent years— a desirable problem for the music program to have.

Brian R. Monahan
Brian R. Monahan
News Editor for The Messenger Papers.