Music and Performing Arts


The Riverhead Central School District is proud of its dynamic sequential music program, and the many opportunities the program and all of our performing groups provide for students. The music program is designed to promote the musical development of every student. Students in our performing music program have been recognized by the New York State School Music Association, the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education, the Suffolk County Music Educators Association, the Hampton Music Educators Association, the Music In The Parks festival, and others. Our ensemble groups perform throughout the year at school and in the community.

NYSSMA & Festivals

There are many wonderful opportunities for music students to perform in select ensembles throughout the county and state. School music teachers (ensemble directors) will nominate students to be part of any festivals for which they qualify. Please note that students/parents should not contact these organizations directly. The professional groups that organize these festivals do not communicate directly with students and parents; festival organizers will only speak to school district officials and/or the student’s nominating teacher. This protects the privacy of the students.

NYSSMA Solo Adjudication Festival

The NY State School Music Association sponsors this adjudication festival annually, and it is hosted in locations all over New York. With guidance from their music teachers, students choose a solo piece specifically composed or arranged for their instrument or voice part. Solos are organized in six levels of difficulty, and students are encouraged to return to the festival each year to perform increasingly challenging solos. Students perform their prepared solo – along with a spontaneous site-reading – in front of a judge who scores the performance based on a clear rubric. The judge also provides praise, comments, and suggestions to promote the student’s continued growth as a musician. Students in 10th and 11th grades may choose to perform a level six solo as an audition for the NYSSMA All-State Festival. NYSSMA scores are used in determining nominations for a number of honor ensembles during the following school year.

Students who play piano at home may also register to perform a NYSSMA solo for adjudication, but will need to register through their school music teacher (please note: there is now a separate piano solo festival in Suffolk County, on different dates than the area solo festival). There is no “All-State” for piano, except for students who audition for the All-State Jazz Ensemble.

For more information, please visit the NYSSMA website or speak to your child’s music teacher.

Each of the following honor ensembles requires a NYSSMA score from the previous year. School music teachers for each area will nominate students whose NYSSMA Level and Score is high enough to be considered for each ensemble. These thresholds vary depending on the festival and the instrument. Final ensemble musicians are selected by qualified festival chairpersons from within the professional organizations. A teacher’s nomination is not a sign of acceptance into the festival ensemble. Once selected, students must commit to learning the music prior to the festival, and attending all festival rehearsals and performances.

NYSCAME/SCMEA High School All-County Festival – The NY State Council of Administrators of Music Education and the Suffolk County Music Educators Association organize an All-County festival for November each year. This festival gathers together the finest Suffolk student-musicians in 11th and 12th grade. Four ensembles result: Symphonic Band, Treble Chorus, Mixed Chorus, and Symphony Orchestra.

NYSSMA All-State Festival – The New York State School Music Association organizes this festival annually in conjunction with its Winter Conference in Rochester. Gathering the finest 11th and 12th grade student musicians in the state, NYSSMA creates these ensembles from the approximately 900 students accepted: band, wind ensemble, string orchestra, symphony orchestra, women’s chorus, mixed chorus, instrumental jazz ensemble, and vocal jazz ensemble. Acceptance into NYSSMA All-State is an extremely prestigious honor.

HMEA: Hamptons Music Educators Association – This east end festival typically occurs in January/February each year. HMEA is made up of students from the Amagansett, Bridgehampton, Center Moriches, East Hampton, East Moriches, East Quogue, Eastport-South Manor, Hampton Bays, Montauk, Quogue, Remsenburg-Speonk, Riverhead, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Southold, Springs, Tuckahoe, and Westhampton Beach School Districts. There is a middle school festival and a high school festival, both consisting of a band, a chorus, and an orchestra. Additionally, the HMEA middle school festival offers a “world drumming” ensemble.

LISFA: Long Island String Festival Association – LISFA festivals bring together the finest string musicians from Long Island schools, highlighting the strength of Long Island’s string teachers and talented students. The festival also celebrates the supportive parents and high-quality conductors that join together with teachers and students in creating powerful musical experiences. This festival usually takes place at the end of January each year, and offers string ensembles for both intermediate and secondary students (grades 5-12). Students are selected on a competitive basis, based on their NYSSMA level and scores from the prior year along with teacher recommendations.

NYSBDA (NY State Band Directors Association) Honor Bands – In March of each year, NYSBDA hosts an honors band festival during its annual symposium. The bands assembled reflect the finest middle school and high school band students from across the state.

SCMEA: Suffolk County Music Educators Association – Typically in March each year, SCMEA runs a series of All-County festivals for younger student musicians in grades 5 through 10. SCMEA is broken up into three geographical areas (Riverhead is in the “East”) and three divisions: Division I is for 5th and 6th graders, Division II is for 7th and 8th graders, and Division III is for 9th and 10th graders.

In-District Concerts and Performances

Concerts – There are generally two regular ensemble concerts held each year – a winter concert and a spring concert.

  • 4th grade: Students have two evening music concerts they perform in as a chorus/ensemble.
  • 5th grade: Chorus students have two evening concerts, one in winter and one in spring as mentioned above. However, our new 5th grade band and orchestra students have just one band/orchestra performance, which is held in the spring. During this special performance, we celebrate the musical growth they’ve achieved on their new instrument that year.
  • 6th through 12th grade: All school ensembles (bands, orchestras, choruses) have two evening concerts, one in winter and one in spring.
  • Extracurricular and Chamber ensembles have their own, additional concert evenings and may also perform competitively.
  • Additionally, all ensembles may be invited to perform at other school and community events throughout the school year.

Night of a Thousand Strings – The annual “Night of Strings” concert in June features all of our orchestras from Pulaski, RMS, and RHS (orchestra students from 5th grade through 12th grade) performing songs with their regular building ensembles, and then a grand finale featuring all 400+ string students on stage performing one piece together. This concert conveys the pride and passion of our string students and teachers, and we all get to appreciate how much the students have grown musically over a short period of years in our school orchestra program.