North Shore High School graduates Angelo Antinori of Glen Head...

North Shore High School graduates Angelo Antinori of Glen Head and Eileen Zhao of Glen Cove played in the New York Youth Symphony album that won a 2023 Grammy Award for best orchestral performance. Credit: Composite: Leonard Antinori; Laura Tillack

Two North Shore High School alumni are among the Long Island musicians on the New York Youth Symphony album that won this year's Grammy Award for best orchestral performance — the first Grammy ever awarded to a youth orchestra.

Percussionist Angelo Antinori, 24, of Glen Head, and violinist Eileen Zhao, 18, of Glen Cove, were among those performing on "Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman," conducted by Michael Repper and featuring four works by those titular African American female composers. Avie Records released the album on April 8, 2022, a day shy of the 115th anniversary of the pioneering Price's birth.

"I was born in Mineola and I grew up till about 4 years old in College Point, Queens, and then we moved to Glen Head specifically because we heard North Shore had a great music program," says Antinori, class of '16, who is now in his senior year at the Cleveland Institute of Music. During high school, he was named to the All-State Jazz Ensemble and to the symphony orchestra division of the National Association for Music Education's All-National Honor Ensembles, among other accolades.

Zhao, class of '22, now a freshman biology major at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, was born in Queens but her family moved to Glen Cove when she was 3 — specifically, she says, for "the great school district at North Shore, where I went from K through 12." She has served as concertmaster for the Manhasset-based Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and Northport's Long Island String Festival, and among other distinctions was named a Long Island Scholar Artist by the Long Island Arts Alliance.

The only child of father Baixiong Zhao, an IT specialist with the NYPD, and mother Jiong Miao, an insurance broker, she was in class when the nominations were announced. "We were doing a group activity and I was on my iPad, and out of nowhere I received the email from Youth Symphony. And I screamed! Some people gave me funny looks," she recalls, chuckling. "But I was ecstatic."

Antinori is the son of artist Leonard, a teacher at Great Neck North High School, and Elizabeth, who teaches Italian at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville. His younger brother Luca, also musically inclined, attends Boston's Berklee College of Music.

He "was surprised but also not surprised" at both the Grammy nomination and the win, he says.

"The album was getting a lot of reviews, a lot of articles written about it, a lot of radio play," he notes, adding that its production was innovative: Because of COVID-19 room-capacity restrictions at the time, only a third of the orchestra recorded per day, rather than the whole, requiring great technical expertise to keep their tempos consistent.

"But there's also a social and a political aspect to the album," he adds. "We deliberately chose to do all African American women because of this moment in history and the Black Lives Matter movement. All that together made it such a forward-thinking and innovative album. And it's fantastic music."

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