By Carlotta Mohamed
St. Francis Preparatory School’s Music Department received a plaque honoring the program as the first school ever to have earned re-accreditation specifically for music.
Dr. Henry Cram, president of The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, presented the award to the Fresh Meadows institution Nov. 14, lauding the Music Department as one of the best, and a program that is setting the tone for the entire school community.
The award, which is granted only after a lengthy self-study and the setting of significant long-term goals, is momentous. St. Francis Prep’s Music Department was the first school ever to earn it in 2011.
“Schools attaining the Music Program of Distinction foster within students a deep appreciation for music as an expressive, creative art form. Music education is recognized as an essential component of the social and cultural fiber of society and the school,” said Middle States.
St. Francis Prep’s music department is led by long-time chairperson, Dr. Robert Corbino, considered the architect of the program. During his tenure, he has built a program that rivals any in New York City and beyond.
There are three bands, three orchestras, two percussion ensembles and three choirs. St. Francis Prep also boasts classes in music theory (including an Advanced Placement course), music history (for college credit) and music technology.
The Music program at Prep has multiple entry points for students of all abilities and interests. One of the unique aspects is that there are numerous classes for beginners in all the orchestral instruments. Conversely, advanced students can participate in Prep’s elite ensembles.
The ensembles perform regularly, both within and outside the school community. Over the last four years, students have been able to tour England and Italy, and have appeared on television, both in the city and abroad.
There has been a significant increase in the number of students who participate in Prep’s music program, as well as strengthening the relationship Prep has with local feeder schools as well as a partnership with Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music. Prep students regularly play to full audiences at their major concerts.
Additionally, Prep has strengthened its Music Parent Association, as well as engaged numerous guest artists to work with their students.
Dr. Peter Loel Boonshaft, a professor of music at Hofstra University, recently visited the school proclaiming the students’ “spirit, enthusiasm, excitement, dedication, focus and sincerity of music-making that is palpable for anyone who watches and listens.”
“Thank you for allowing me to once again have the honor and joy of coming to St. Francis Prep and basking in the spirit, enthusiasm, excitement, dedication, focus and sincerity of music-making that is palpable for anyone who watches and listens to those wonderful young people!” said Boonshaft.
St. Francis Prep also welcomed Martha Mooke, pioneering composer and electro-acoustic violist.
“Congratulations on having such a fantastic program for the kids and the school! They were so well behaved, engaged and willing to venture beyond their comfort zones. It was a joy to visit!” said Mooke.
St. Francis Prep’s music department is a Platinum Member of the KHS Academic Alliance, and will formally be recognized in January by Music for All’s Advocacy in Action for their efforts in recruiting.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha