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Oyster Bay Music Festival concludes week of performances by talented young singers, musicians

Natalie Jenks, 5, and sister Hannah, 1, both

Natalie Jenks, 5, and sister Hannah, 1, both of Bay Shore, try playing an instrument made from bamboo at the Oyster Bay Music Festival, Saturday, July 11, 2015, at the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay. The weeklong festival holds various performances and activities at Oyster Bay village sites. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Oyster Bay village served as backdrop for a weeklong music festival that wrapped up Sunday, after dozens of students performed at sites including a museum, two churches, a restaurant-tavern, a motorcycle shop and a waterfront warehouse.

The Oyster Bay Music Festival, completing its fourth season, faces organizational changes. One of the event's founders, Sarah Adams Hoover, an adjunct assistant music professor at Hofstra University, recently took an administrative post with the Peabody Conservatory, a music school at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Festival officials said Hoover would be "sorely missed." Officials added, however, that they were planning an expanded performance schedule next year at more Oyster Bay sites.

"All the places in town where we've performed, they've always had us back," said Pippa Borisy, a Great Neck pianist and conservatory manager.

Borisy joined Hoover and Lauren Ausubel, a Huntington flutist, in organizing the festival in 2012.

The festival's principal aims are to provide talented young musicians, ages 9 to 24, with multiple chances to perform classical music, and in ways enjoyable to diverse audiences. Thirty-one students gathered in Oyster Bay this month to train and perform at sites ranging from a senior citizen center to a children's crafts store.

"That has been such a joy, to see what happens when students perform and connect with their audience," Hoover said Sunday.

Saturday, students sang and played music in the central corridor of Raynham Hall, a local museum and Colonial-era home dating to 1738. In the yard outside, visitors ate free ice cream and watched as Dale Stuckenbruck, a school music director, showed how musical notes could be extracted from carrots and other vegetables drilled with a power tool.

Chris Lau, 16, a student vocalist entering his junior year at North Shore High School in Glen Head, said he decided to audition for the festival last year after learning about it via the Internet.

Lau has sung at other Oyster Bay sites including Christ Church, which is Episcopalian; First Presbyterian Church, Jack Halyards Restaurant and the Ida May Project in Building J on the Western Waterfront, a warehouse site devoted to preservation and construction of wooden boats.

Lau said he enjoyed the chance to perform for audiences ranging in size from about 25 to 100. He formerly trained with Hoover, and is now coached by Tammy Hensrud, another Hofstra faculty member and festival staffer.

"I thought, 'Hey, why not?' " he said. "It's a lot more personal than a huge concert hall."

David Elyaho, 18, a senior and violinist at Great Neck North High School, has performed three years running in Oyster Bay and finds it welcoming.

"The town is really open," said Elyaho. "I wish other places were like this."


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