West Islip Symphony Orchestra members at Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore in December 2022: back row, from left, Laura Rizzo. Joanna Alterio, Cindy Reyes, Cindy Pacini, Ken Kopolovicz, Sue Rydzeski and Ray Keogh, with Paul Little, conductor, in the foreground. Credit: Cindy Pacini

When I was in the fourth grade, I was given the opportunity to learn an instrument. There wasn’t really any choice for me, though, because my mother handed me a violin and told me that was the instrument I was going to play!

Even at a young age, I enjoyed learning to play the violin. My mother’s instrument was the cello; she played in the Senior Pops Orchestra of Long Island and the Massapequa Philharmonic, and she was part of a quartet, called Forest Lake Strings, that performed all over Long Island. Every concert with the Senior Pops and Massapequa Philharmonic was a family affair. She would be on the stage playing, looking elegant and happy, and my sisters, dad, aunts, uncles and some of her friends would be in the audience. Most of us dozed at different intervals during the concert, but we all enjoyed it.

The best part of the night was the “back to the house” celebration. It was a wonderful time to laugh and socialize — everyone looked forward to my mother’s concerts and the receptions. I remember telling myself that someday, I would play in those groups and host family and friends back at the house.

I played the violin through middle and high school, and my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I also taught hundreds of students to play the violin over the course of my 35 years with the San Francisco Public Schools, where I was a music teacher.

And now — in my retirement — it is finally my turn. I now play in the renamed Symphonic Pops of Long Island and the Massapequa Philharmonic. I feel honored to perform in many venues where my mother played — and I continue to host receptions, inviting family and friends “back to the house,” now my house. The welcome has also, at times, included the entire orchestra.

I don’t have a string quartet but have performed with the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra, the West Islip Symphony Orchestra, the South Shore Symphony, the Northport Symphony, the North Shore Symphony, the Island Symphony, the Rockaway-Five Towns Orchestra and the Sound Symphony Orchestra. I am grateful for these wonderful opportunities, and it is heartwarming to carry on a wonderful family tradition!

In December, I shared the joy of performing with the West Islip Symphony Orchestra at Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore. The performance attracted shoppers from all walks of life — and every corner of the mall. People literally stopped in their tracks to listen to the concert. I spent most of the concert choked up as I watched the appreciative reactions of the shoppers that day.

It gives me great pleasure to spend my retirement playing violin alongside other musicians. Every concert brings back the memories of when I first began my music “career” — the music and the memories live on.

Cindy Pacini,

West Islip

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