Niskayuna Friends of Music is teaming up with local restaurants to shine a spotlight on student musicians and raise money during Music in Our Schools Month.
“We just wanted to mark the month because usually . . . there’s the musical and a lot of live performances go on in March with the community and our school district,” said Sarah Spindler, president of the Niskayuna Friends of Music. “Obviously, that’s not happening. We wanted to make it something special with our musicians and the community.”
From 3:30 – 9 p.m., March 8-14, Mr. Wasabi on Union Street will donate a portion of its sales to the Friends of Music, which supports the school district’s music program. Then, between 4-8 p.m. from March 23-25, City Squire on Keyes Ave. will donate proceeds to the group.
Performances, including from years past and solo performances from graduating seniors, will be streamed each night from March 15-19 on the Niskayuna Friends of Music Facebook page.
“Students miss performing together and for audiences. They want to return to the stage and try to take advantage of virtual opportunities,” said Eric Hughes, the director of music education at Niskayuna.
That’s especially true for Daniel Watson, a senior and vocalist who has taken part in just about every musical he could during his high school career. The last one he performed in was Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” just over a year ago. A recording of it will be streamed on Friday, March 19, as part of the Friends of Music fundraiser.
“Last year, doing ‘Little Mermaid’. . . that was just one of the best feelings,” Watson said.
Since then, he took part in the school’s virtual winter concert, which he said took a lot of work to put together.
“Students sent in [recordings] of themselves singing their part or also playing their instrument’s part. Then our teachers went through each one and put it through softwares, blended [and] adjusted pitch,” Watson said.
Spindler, who watched the concert, said that it showed how resilient these musicians are.
“It was so phenomenal. Normally they play together . . . so these kids were really brave to submit their pieces individually,” Spindler said.
The virtual show that Friends of Music is slated to present on March 18 will also feature videos from students, though with a focus on seniors.
“It’s a stressful thing. It was difficult enough for me to send in my
and get over the nerves and figuring out the right song and I am hopefully going into school for music,” Watson said.
He submitted his college audition video for the senior show, in which he performs “O Del Mio Dolce Ardor.” Other students submitted their own compositions or their college audition recordings.
The performances are free to stream but donations are welcome.
“There’s no pressure to send in any money. . . the main reason for this is to see what we were able to do the last few years and what we’re still able to do in the future and just enjoy and reminisce about what we’re missing,” Watson said.
However, if people can donate, Watson said “the Friends of Music is one of the greatest organizations I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. They do so much for our schools. They go from the smallest thing . . . to big things like buying kids their instruments, buying them uniforms when kids have trouble being able to pay for them.”
For more information visit Niskayuna Friends of Music on Facebook or Niskyfom.org.