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Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University’s 2015 Pre-College Concerto winner Samuel Wallach will perform a piano solo at the concert. Photo from Susan Deaver

By Rita J. Egan

The University Orchestra at Stony Brook University is busy rehearsing a fun night of music for family members of all ages. On Tuesday, March 1, they will present their Annual Family Concert, this year titled Musical Humor, on the Staller Center for the Arts Main Stage at 7:30 p.m.

Susan Deaver, conductor of the university orchestra and faculty member at Stony Brook, said the annual concert was already taking place when she began working at the university in 2000; however, up until 2013, it was called the Annual Children’s Concert. 

“We just discovered that the students and parents and grandparents and friends that they came with, everyone had a really good time, so we decided to rename it,” Deaver said.

The conductor said every year there’s a different theme such as magic, outer space, movies, and masquerade. “Every year I try to think of something that we can tie in some classical musical,” she said.

This year Deaver said the 70-member, all-student ensemble will celebrate musical humor, explaining that orchestral music isn’t as stuffy or complicated as many think and often is used in cartoons.

The conductor said attendees can expect to hear pieces such as the “William Tell Overture,” which was used as the “Lone Ranger” theme song, and excerpts from Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of Animals,” where instruments imitate the sounds of creatures such as chickens or kangaroos jumping. The show will also include music from American composer LeRoy Anderson who has written short tongue-in-cheek pieces. Deaver said they are performing one of his pieces titled “Typewriter Concerto,” which replicates the sounds of an old typewriter.

A tradition during the concert is a solo by the winner of the Stony Brook University Pre-College Concerto Competition. “It’s a really great way to feature young talent. We’ve had really good soloists,” Deaver said.

The 2015 winner Samuel Wallach will perform a solo on the piano, the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12. Deaver said each student participating in the competition had a 10-minute slot to perform a movement from a concerto, and a committee of judges decided who was best. She said, “Sam played great. He was wonderful.”

Wallach, a sophomore at Ward Melville High School, said in the month of February, he’s been practicing every Tuesday with the university orchestra and at home with his piano teacher. The young pianist said he’s happy that he won the competition.

Wallach became interested in piano when he started playing with an electric keyboard as a small child. His parents signed him up for piano lessons around the third grade. While he’s performed solo and with a chamber group of four musicians, this is the first time Wallach will be playing with an orchestra. “I don’t know quite how to picture it; I’m excited,” Wallach said.

Deaver said every year the concert includes surprises for the audience, too. Last year at the end of the show, while the orchestra played the theme from “Frozen,” “Let It Go,” someone came on stage dressed as Elsa. The surprise was a big hit with the children who were singing along.

The orchestra also interacts with the audience and gives short demonstrations of the different instruments. Deaver said she asks audience members things like: Who plays string instruments? Who plays wood wind instruments? The conductor said the orchestra members always enjoy the interaction with the audience.

The show keeps children engaged not only by talking directly to them but also by keeping the show to an hour. Deaver said the concert is a great opportunity for kids to hear all the instruments together, and it’s more approachable, because when it comes to orchestral music, “sometimes people think it’s too sophisticated or untouchable.”

“I really hope they are inspired to listen to more orchestral music and music in general. And, for the youngest ones who are not playing an instrument yet, I hope it inspires them to consider studying an instrument. For those who are already studying an instrument, I hope it inspires them to want to achieve even more,” said Deaver. “If nothing else, it exposes them to new and great music, because it’s a very different experience hearing it live, as opposed to a recording or YouTube, because all your senses are really activated, ears, eyes, everything, and there’s perspective,” she added.

Tickets for the concert are $5 and are available at the Staller Center Box Office or by calling 631-632-2787. For further information about the University Orchestra, contact the Stony Brook Department of Music at 631-632-7330 or visit its website at www.stonybrook.edu/music.

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No Suffolk County team averaged more than Kings Park’s 69.5 points per game this season.

That offensive success paid off in dividends as the No. 3-seeded Kingsmen finished the regular season 16-2 overall and took a 12-game winning streak into the postseason, where the undefeated League IV champions took down No. 14 Hauppauge and No. 6 Huntington, making their way to the Suffolk County Class AA semifinals at Stony Brook University Sunday afternoon.

Although challenger Commack, the No. 2 seed, was also 18-2 heading into the game, the usual onslaught that had been expected with Kings Park was non-existent on the Seawolves’ home court.

This was because the Cougars valued defense above all else — something that Kings Park head coach Tom Edmundson said was lacking from his team’s game Sunday.

“Our help defense was not what it needed to be and we talked about that all year, really,” he said. “We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the season, and it’s been something we’ve focused on and we’ve focused on, and today we just didn’t put it all together on the defensive side of the ball.”

Commack scored the first six points of the semifinal game before sophomore guard Sam Schultz swished a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. The Cougars countered with a field goal and two free-throw points to re-extend the lead. Despite a free-throw point by junior guard and forward Taylor Slicklein, Commack grabbed an offensive rebound to pull ahead 12-4, forcing Edmundson to use one of his timeouts to try and regroup.

The pep-talk proved successful, as Schultz scored a layup and a field goal, Slicklein tacked on a 3-pointer and junior guard Selena Ubriaco tallied a trifecta of her own with 3.6 left in the first quarter to help her team pull within five, 19-14, heading into the second stanza.

“I think we definitely didn’t start as strong as we needed to today, and Commack made the most of it — they started as strong as they could and that allowed them to take the lead in the end,” Schultz said. “We fought back, but it wasn’t enough.”

The deficit only grew from there, with Commack taking a 35-23 advantage into the locker room.

“You’ve gotta take your hat off to Commack they played great defense,” Edmundson said. “Jackie DelliSanti dominated. She’s a phenomenal player. We knew we needed to try and slow her down and we were unable to do that, and that was the big difference.”

DelliSanti was the difference-maker, scoring a game-high 22 points.

In the second half, though, Kings Park mounted a strong comeback effort, outscoring its opponent 15-9 in the third quarter, with help from Schultz, Ubriaco, senior guard Kiera Ahern and Taylor Slicklein’s twin sister Tiffany.

Tiffany Slicklein, who averaged 17 points per game, was held to 13, which helped open the lane for Schultz, who finished with a team-high 17 points herself. Still, the sophomore said the team’s junior co-captain is such a dominant player that despite the heavy guarding, Slicklein was able to excel.

“They have to key on her,” Schultz said of Slicklein. “That allowed me to be more open to the point where it’s hard for them to key on two girls, so I think that helped open up some lanes for everybody. But she definitely made really smart choices and passes and never forced any shots, which helped.”

Despite Kings Park’s strong season coming to a close, the head coach said he’s proud of his girls’ accomplishments.

“They battled all year and they came together as a team,” he said. “We have some freshmen and some seniors and the dynamics don’t always work out well, and with this group, it did. They all came together.”

Schultz said she thinks the outcome may have been different had the team learned from its mistakes early on in the game, but is excited about the future of her team, although the loss of senior starter Kiera Ahern will prove difficult.
“If a couple of shots would’ve fell or if we made that extra pass one or two extra times, I think the outcome could’ve been a little different,” Schultz said. “Now that this season is over all you can worry about is next year, so I’m excited. We’ll have probably a little freshman come up and be a starter, and I think only good things for us next year.”

2016 Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame inductees Tom Combs, Chuck Downey and Rich Cimini pose for a photo at the induction announcement press conference. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday that they will be inducting eight new members in 2016. The class includes Setauket resident Rich Cimini, the New York Jets beat reporter for ESPN; Commack resident Chuck Downey, the first Stony Brook University athlete to sign a professional sports contract; and Setauket resident Tom Combs, the athletic director at Patchogue-Medford High School and a standout football star for Smithtown, among others.

Television and radio host David Weiss introduced the inductees at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge during the press conference.

“It’s an honor to be associated with such great inductees, great athletes and coaches,” Cimini said during the press conference after he was introduced. “I’m just a guy who got cut from his varsity baseball team by Bill Batewell. At least he’s a Hall of Famer, so I can say that I got cut by a Hall of Fame coach.”

Cimini graduated from Sachem High School in 1981. He has covered the Jets for Newsday, the Daily News and now ESPN during his long career as a reporter.

“It has been such a great ride that I have a fear that I’m going to wake up one day and realize it’s just been a dream, and that I actually have to go out and get a real job,” Cimini said.

Downey, who is currently a Battalion Chief for the FDNY, credited his parents for instilling values of hard work that led him to be successful in life. His father Raymond, who was also an FDNY firefighter, was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Suffolk is very special, and to be here today with these other inductees — thank you very much,” Downey said during the press conference. He was a three-sport athlete at Deer Park High School, before playing football at Stony Brook University, and ultimately signing an NFL contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988.

Combs has played, coached and been an athletic director in Suffolk County dating back to the 1970s. He is also a member of the Hall’s board of trustees.

“This is quite a talented class,” Combs said. “I’ve been involved with the Hall of Fame for the last five years and I can honestly say this is a very intimidating group with some amazing accomplishments.”

The other inductees include Jillian Byers, a thre-sport standout from Northport who went on to become a four-time All-American in lacrosse; Frank Romeo, who was a longtime boys’ basketball coach at Comsewogue High School who was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame last year; and Laura Gentile, Maria Michta-Coffey and Isaac Ramaswamy, all of whom went to Sachem.

Richie LoNigro, owner of Port Jefferson Sporting Goods, will also receive a Special Recognition Award for his dedication to the athletes of Suffolk County. He is one of only six people in the country to receive the Rawlings Sporting Goods Silver Glove Award, which has been given to some of the most respected people in the sporting good industry

The ceremony for the 2016 inductees will take place on May 6, also at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge. Tickets are $95. For more information visit http://www.suffolksportshof.com.

George Hoffman, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Jane Taylor stand in front of Stony Brook train station on Route 25A. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Brookhaven Town is calling on those residents who know the area best to help herald in a new era for Route 25A, just weeks after passing a resolution to explore a land use plan and study for the area.

On Feb. 4, the town board created a Citizens Advisory Committee for the Route 25A study and plan, and appointed Three Village’s own George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force and Jane Taylor, assistant head of The Stony Brook School, to lead the committee.

The efforts could tie in with similar ones in Port Jefferson Station, where residents, with the help of the town planning department, have already finalized their land use plan for the main drag between the Long Island Rail Road tracks at the northern tip of the hamlet and Route 347 at its center. That main road starts as Route 25A and becomes Route 112.

Brookhaven officials are starting up this year on rezoning parcels in that study area to fit the finalized plan.

In Three Village, the new citizens group will also include members from 12 offices or organizations, including the newly renamed Three Village Civic Association, the office of the president of Stony Brook University, members of the Setauket and Stony Brook fire departments, among others, the town said.

For Hoffman, traffic and pedestrian safety is an area for concern for him and other community members and officials alike. About one-and-a-half years ago Hoffman helped establish a kiosk for an Eagle Scout project near Route 25A and the Stony Brook train station. A car destroyed it nearly a month later, he said.

Hoffman said, “It’s a tricky area and there’s a lot of pedestrians” that walk along Route 25A.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said a Stony Brook University student died several years ago when walking along Route 25A. Many others walk along this road throughout the school year.

“When you have the largest state university in the state of New York, it should have sidewalks,” Romaine said.

Hoffman started working to revitalize the area when he joined the civic association board four years ago. His co-chair, Taylor, has lived in the Stony Brook area since 1973 and said that she was pleased with the news of her position on the committee.

“One of the important values that I have … is to be able to give back to our community in some way,” Taylor said.

Taylor added that it’s exciting to see a variety of local organizations unite for this issue. She also said community input is something the supervisor and town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) wanted from this land use study.

Cartright has worked with the supervisor to address the Route 25A issues.

Last June, Cartright teamed up with the Three Village Community Trust and organized a meeting with residents to get their input on how they’d like to see the street revitalized. According to Cartright, around 100 community members attended the meeting at The Stony Brook School. While there were some differences in opinion, the majority of residents wanted to “keep the small-town feel” and maintain as much open space as possible.

“I think it is part of the planning process. I think we need to always make sure to have the community [as] involved as possible,” Cartright said.

Cynthia Barnes, president of the Three Village Community Trust, said the corridor study was an opportunity for residents to make sure any past successes were not wiped out by future indifference.

“The community has worked hard to prevent Route 25A from turning into an endless corridor of strip malls like so many other places in Brookhaven and elsewhere,” she said in a statement. “Over the past 20 years, civic leaders have actively engaged in community-based planning, advocating land and historic preservation, scrutinizing development proposals and conducting two planning studies, in 1997 and in 2010. As a result, land has been preserved along 25A and throughout the area and the first of 15 historic districts now in Brookhaven were established here in Setauket and Stony Brook.”

Barnes also said the study is an opportunity for the entire community to “influence policymakers and deciders in how they direct future development and redevelopment along our ‘Main Street.’”

Looking ahead, she said the trust urges everyone to participate in this planning process by seeking out information and watching for meetings and workshops — including the trust’s spring “Join the Conversation” series.

The town will conduct the study in phases starting from the Smithtown line to Nicolls Road while the second phase will focus on the remainder of Route 25A to the Poquott Village line. Although Romaine said there’s “tremendous opportunities for redevelopment” of the street, it will take time to revitalize the area. The supervisor agreed with Cartright that community members are key to a successful study and plan.

Cartright is also involved in revitalizing the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville area to meet the needs of residents. The Citizens Advisory Committee there has presented the town with a vision for the area, which the town previously accepted and then voted on Jan. 14 to start rezoning the area to fit that vision.

Port Jefferson Station’s land use plan was built on existing studies of the area, and the town’s Citizens Advisory Committee meetings will add on to previous Route 25A discussions.

“We’re just at the beginning of the process,” Hoffman said. “We want to build off Valerie’s successful community meeting in the summer. People have different views of how they want their community to look [and] we want to make the area really beautiful [for residents].”

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Bellone meets students and their mentors at Stony Brook University. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Mentors are making a new mark on Stony Brook University thanks to a county program.

Working alongside Mentor New York, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) rolled out the county’s newest mentoring program at Stony Brook University’s Center for Molecular Medicine on Jan. 29. In the company of students and staff, Bellone said the county kicked off the mentoring program to help area newcomers navigate their way through county politics and education.

While the program is in its early stages, its public announcement came in light of National Mentoring Month in January. Bellone met with six students, mentors, and faculty on Friday to also discuss the importance of mentors for the young adults majoring in science related fields.

“The benefits of [mentoring] are absolutely amazing,” Bellone said during the meeting. “From a better academic performance, better economic prospects, better statistics … the list goes on and on.”

Mentors were key to the success of Michelle Olakkengil, a junior at Stony Brook who said she discovered her passions with a mentor’s help. Olakkengil shifted from conducting research in obstetrics and gynecology to pursuing her passion for public speaking by working hand-in-hand with a more experienced peer.

“Having these mentors can really boost a student’s personal development,” Olakkengil said. “I was able to find out more about myself.”

She is currently applying for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which supports graduates and the development of students like Olakkengil, who are committed to public service leadership through mentoring.

While sophomore Amna Haider is more science-minded, she said her mentors helped her tackle different machinery and tools that helped her to better understand engineering. She said that applying past knowledge was key for her area of study and that lesson was only learned via mentorship.

For 32-year-old Daniel Irizarry, the university’s mentorship program hit home.

Irizarry left his family business in construction to attend Stony Brook University and will pursue his doctorate in genetics after he graduates this summer. But he said the reality of leaving a family-run business made it more stressful to adapt to life as a student.

“If it hadn’t been for the mentorship, I don’t think I’d be able to succeed,” said Irizarry about his mentor Jennie Williams. “It can be pretty difficult navigating these kinds of things, especially when you have a family.”

The mentorship program at the university is an example of what Bellone said he hopes to do in his office in the coming months. According to Maureen Lagarde, special events and donor management specialist at Mentor New York, Bellone’s office contacted her organization with hopes of finding ways to participate in January’s mentoring awareness month.

She added that Bellone’s initiative sets “an example for other government departments and businesses alike.” Currently, Mentor New York is helping around 57,000 youths with its more than 400 programs. Organizations or individuals can contact Mentor New York to either create a mentoring program or to find a program that best suits their needs.

“When you’re growing up, you don’t want to listen to adults,” Bellone said. “[But] to get where you want to be [you have] to talk to people who’ve been down that road before. That’s why this [mentorship program] is so wonderful.”

Campus Dining student employees gather for spring 2016 training. Photo from Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University is putting its students to work both inside and outside the classroom.

The university announced this week that it was turning up the heat at its on-campus dining services, where student payroll wages went up 32 percent thanks to an employment increase of 22 percent over the past year. The school has made on-campus hiring a greater priority over the past year, a spokeswoman said, because of research studies stating that it not only helped them raise money, but become better students as well.

Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed that part-time campus jobs not only raise cash, but also can help raise students’ grade-point averages. Campus dining services student employees collectively earned $663,912 – earning a competitive average wage of $9.40 per hour – and maintained an average 3.27 GPA during the fall 2015 semester, Stony Brook University said in a statement.

“We applaud campus dining for taking this approach as these student employees will develop transferrable skills that can apply in a variety of work environments and position students for career-relevant internships and full time jobs,” said Marianna Savoca, director of the career center at Stony Brook. “The career center works with hundreds of employers from every industry sector — they want candidates with workplace skills and experience — and that’s what our student employment program aspires to create.”

More than 220 students were on campus last week for on-site training for various positions they will occupy over the coming year — and they’re still hiring, the university said.

The university’s campus dining services employed more than 450 students in the fall of 2015, a spokeswoman for the university said. Over the past year, Stony Brook students worked an average of 22 hours each week across various positions that go beyond just the kitchens and dining spots, the spokeswoman said.

“They work in marketing, social media, event planning and Web, and often interact directly with managers, chefs, university personnel and the public,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Working for campus dining has allowed me to improve my communication skills with customers, staff, and teammates, all while giving me the freedom to use my creativity and experience to work towards a common goal,” said David Golden, a CDS marketing intern and business marketing major who plans to graduate in May 2017.

Campus dining services student employees receive thorough training in customer service, time management, food safety, communication, special food needs training and social media, the university said. A total of seven student employees have received AllerTrain food allergy training, and nearly 90 student employees have earned a Suffolk County Food Handler’s Certificate.

Kareema Charles is an example that a student position at Stony Brook can lead to a full-time job. After graduating from Stony Brook University with a degree in journalism, Charles was hired to serve as a management trainee helping to produce The Seawolves Food Show, an online video series developed by the University’s Faculty Student Association in collaboration with journalism students to help the campus community learn more about campus dining programs.

Prior to graduation, Charles worked as a student producer for The Seawolves Food Show.

“I never imagined that my student job would turn into a full time position after graduation,” said Charles. “Stony Brook’s School of Journalism gave me all the skills I needed for my current position, while the University’s Faculty Student Association gave me the opportunity to use those skills in a real world setting. Stony Brook made the transition from college life into every day work life really easy.”

Ethan Agro has always been able to turn tears of sorrow into tears of joy.

Even though he was born with a congenital heart defect, the 12-year-old was always a trooper, and especially so when he needed to lay on an operating table last year and undergo eight hours of open heart surgery to repair his aortic valve.

12-year-old Ethan Agro celebrates after making the Gold Coast Bank three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men's basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU
12-year-old Ethan Agro celebrates after making the Gold Coast Bank three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU

“My husband and I and my family were crying tears of joy,” Ethan’s mother Susan Agro said after the operation went smoothly. “Words cannot describe what a difficult time last year was. It was a really, really hard decision to make and we were really surprised. It was a rough recovery for the first few weeks, but Ethan did great, he had an amazing recovery and we are so grateful.”

Again, on Saturday evening at the men’s home basketball game, Ethan turned the triumph of a successful surgery and recovery into happy tears as he won $500 by banking the Gold Coast Bank three-point halftime shot.

“I was just so grateful that he was able to stand out in front of that crowd and make that shot,” she said. “I was crying tears of joy.”

His mother went to the refreshment stand and while away, a student intern group randomly picked Ethan to attempt the shot. He asked his mother for permission and she said yes without hesitation, although warning her son that no one had made the basket yet this season.

But he did.

Ethan Agro lines up to take his three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men's basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU
Ethan Agro lines up to take his three-point shot during halftime of the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game on Jan. 9. Photo from SBU

“I was surprised to see it go in,” Ethan said. “When I was taking the shot I wasn’t focusing on what the crowd was thinking. I was focusing on making the shot. I was so excited, and shooting in front of the crowd was an honor. I always admired those people — wanting to get picked.”

Stony Brook Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing Chris Murray said Ethan was randomly picked, not knowing that the family, which has lived in Mount Sinai for the last 16 years, had been to all of Stony Brook University’s men’s home games for the last five years. The Agros are season ticket holders and especially enjoyed using the games as an escape while Ethan waited six weeks after scheduling his surgery.

“I myself was on the court with Ethan when he hit the shot and his eyes lit up and he began to run in circles, unsure how to contain his excitement,” Murray said. “I couldn’t have been more happy for him, giving him a big hug as soon as we got off the court. Ethan is the most humble and appreciative middle-schooler I have ever met.”

Ethan has been on the court before, taking part in summer camps at the school but said being on the court at that moment was extra special.

Susan Agro said the whole moment was exciting as the boy was cleared to return to all normal activity just three months ago, and being that they are such big fans of the team.

Ethan Agro poses for a photo with Wolfie after banking his three-point shot during the Stony Brook University men's basketball game, winning $500 from Gold Coast Bank. Photo from SBU
Ethan Agro poses for a photo with Wolfie after banking his three-point shot during the Stony Brook University men’s basketball game, winning $500 from Gold Coast Bank. Photo from SBU

“I told Ethan he could’ve danced a little bit with Wolfie,” his mother said, laughing. “But I was completely shocked for the rest of the day. Everyone was high-fiving Ethan after the game and telling him it was a good shot and what a great story, they were all really excited for Ethan. It was an awesome experience.”

Ethan’s father Nick Agro said he was more excited to see his son be able to go back to playing basketball, as the boy competes in an intermural league.

“This was just a sort of culminating moment — to see him stand up there and make that shot was awesome,” he said. “It just solidified that he’s doing so well.”

Butchers Blind will be one of the last bands performing at the Sunday Street Concert series' old venue. Photo from Charlie Backfish

By Ellen Barcel

The University Cafe at Stony Brook University will be closing early in 2016 due to renovations of the Student Union, but that doesn’t mean that the wonderful series of Sunday Street Concerts, which have been held there for more than a decade, will be ending.

First, going out with a really special performance, the Sunday Street Concert series will present its final show at the University Cafe on Saturday, Dec. 12, which will include Butchers Blind, Chris Connolly and Bryan Gallo, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

“For our last hurrah at the cafe, we’re presenting some of Long Island’s finest young musicians in a very special evening to benefit WUSB-FM and the Sunday Street Series as it moves to its new venue,” said Sunday Street Concert series producer Charlie Backfish.

Then, changes will take place. One is that the venue itself will change, effective 2016. Future concerts will be held down the road in the Gillespie Room of the Carriage Museum at the Long Island Museum, in Stony Brook. Wine, beer and cider will be available there.

A second change is that the concerts will be open to all ages. “That’s particularly good news because we have had parents wanting to bring their children to shows but had to say ‘no’ due to the university policy for the cafe,” said Backfish.

The Sunday Street Concert series will welcome Sloan Wainwright on Jan. 17 to its new venue at the Long Island Museum. Photo from Charlie Backfish
The Sunday Street Concert series will welcome Sloan Wainwright on Jan. 17 to its new venue at the Long Island Museum. Photo from Charlie Backfish

A third change is sponsorship. “This new direction for us is an interesting partnership between the Sunday Street Series, WUSB Radio (90.1 FM, the university’s own radio station), the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and the Long Island Museum,” said Backfish. “LIM has been expanding their programming to include music (the North Shore Pro Musica is already holding their concerts there), the GPJAC supports live performances in our area, and the Sunday Street Series of WUSB was seeking a new venue in order to continue. This all was a perfect match.”

Backfish, who is the director of field experience and student teaching in the Department of History at SBU, also hosts the radio station’s Sunday Street morning program, from 9 a.m. to noon. featuring acoustic, folk and singer-songwriter music.

“I’ve had a lot of performers joining me on air during my radio program, Sunday Street, on Sunday mornings on WUSB. Norm Prusslin, the former general manager of WUSB, suggested thinking about having some of these artists follow up a radio appearance with a show at the University Cafe, at that time a new venue,” he said. “It seemed like a very good idea and the result has been this series, which has now had 175 shows during its existence.”

What will not change is the great lineup of musicians who will be performing. The first concert of the new year is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17, at 3 p.m. when Sloan Wainwright, known for a variety of American music styles including pop, folk, jazz and blues, will be performing. Tickets are $22 in advance, $27 at the door (cash only), if available. “Sloan Wainwright is a great singer whose amazing alto voice powers songs of others as well as her own songs. No surprise since she is part of a well-known musical family, with her brother Loudon Wainwright, and her nephew Rufus and nieces Martha and Lucy,” added Backfish.

The second scheduled 2016 performance will be on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. when Willie Nile will be performing. Advance sales are $25, $30 at the door (cash only), if available. “Willie Nile is a legendary figure on the rock music scene who came to prominence with a debut album hailed by critics. He writes powerfully and always delivers high-energy performances … Since his most recent album is a collection of his songs played on a grand piano, we’re looking forward to Willie making use of the grand piano in the Gillespie room at LIM,” said Backfish.

Another thing that won’t change includes the annual Dylan show. “Our annual celebration of Bob Dylan’s birthday in May has always been special since we assemble a group of musicians who are devotees of Dylan’s work … We’ll continue this tradition at the LIM on Saturday, May 21, at 7 p.m.,” said Backfish. “Coincidentally, the museum at the time will be presenting a traveling exhibition from the Rock and Roll Museum and Hall of Fame,” he added.

The future schedule includes the Scottish band, The Paul McKenna Band in March, Ian Matthews and Plainsong in a tribute to Richard Farina in April and John Gorka, also in April. For details and tickets for the 2016 performances go to www.sundaystreet.org or www.gpjac.org.

The museum, which curates a large number of Setauket artist William Sidney Mount’s paintings, is a very appropriate venue for concerts. Mount not only had many musical themes in his paintings but also played the violin himself as well as designing a violin. “You can almost hear echoes of” him at the museum, noted Backfish.

The Sunday Street Concerts received a warm “reception from the folks at the Long Island Museum,” he added. “I’m really happy we were able to do this. The people at the LIM … want to expand their music — it’s very timely.” Backfish noted that the movement to the Long Island Museum really “expands what the museum does since they already are the venue for North Shore Pro Musica’s concerts.”

The move to the LIM “parallels some of the things they will be doing. For example, an exhibit on traveling music festivals … It couldn’t be better timing,” noted Backfish, adding, “We’re delighted that the LIM has been so supportive in enabling us to continue this series in a great new venue.”

“We are very fortunate to be involved in this,” said Neil Watson, executive director of the LIM. “This is our second season of North Shore Pro Musica. The museum is a cultural hub. We are trying to engage as many people as we can, create as many experiences as possible. I was interested in creating a singer/songwriter series after Pro Musica. When Charlie came to us about losing their space, the collaboration with him grew — a great marriage. We have a wonderful space and sound system and Charlie has the experience booking the talent. I’d like to do a jazz series in the future. We are beyond thrilled, so happy about it. People can experience the museum not only through their eyes but their ears.”

Regarding the future LIM music exhibit beginning in May, Watson noted, “It’s an opportunity to look at culture … All festivals were a lightning rod for more than just music.” He added that during the exhibit there will be talks, panel discussions and additional music.

Backfish will welcome Watson and Joshua Ruff, director of collections and interpretation of the museum, as his guests on Sunday morning, Dec. 13, on his show on WUSB (90.1 FM and wusb.fm) to discuss the partnership of the Sunday Street Series with the Long Island Museum.

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. It is a Smithsonian affiliate. For further information on the museum, visit www.longislandmuseum.org or call 631-751-0066.

Dick Solo photo from Naomi Solo

Richard Solo, known as Dick or Doc to those he loved, died on Nov. 27 at age 79, after a four-year struggle with cancer.

Solo was the beloved husband of Nomi for 56 years; father of David, Julie and Michael (Susan); and brother of Marge Seltzer.

Friends remember Solo walking around in nature, Stony Brook University, his beloved Port Jefferson or other parts of the world, camera in hand, ready to photograph, in his special way, the world around him. He loved his family, students, nature, the Red Sox and a good bowl of  chili.

Solo had a joyous and productive and giving life. From his early days in Brookline High in Massachusetts to his years earning a bachelor’s at MIT and his Ph.D in chemistry from Berkeley, he was involved with student life, sports, and music.

When he moved to Port Jefferson in 1970, he became involved in the village and was an integral part in the development and building of the Village Center.

Solo came to the SBU on its opening day in August 1962, after a research stint at Aerospace in Los Angeles. Since that time, he had dedicated his heart and soul to it, beginning as an assistant chemistry professor. He set up a first-rate lab, but his main love was the student body. For 10 years, he taught chemistry classes of 110 to 150 students, including an introductory seminar on science and ethics before it was fashionable. The blend of teaching and research was a source of excitement, fun and satisfaction, and he was a first-rate teacher and communicator.

He became an integral part of student affairs, getting involved in counseling and helping to create an orientation course for incoming freshmen, ultimately developing an orientation program that was lauded throughout the state. He affected the lives of thousands of students, leading to his role as director of new student orientation, one of the first contacts an incoming student had with the university after admission. To the end, students who went through the program visited and corresponded with Solo and have used it as an example of how it made them grow as individuals.

Any student or faculty member who worked with Solo’s orientation program would agree that the spirit of genuine empathy is what made all the difference in the effectiveness of the program. Solo, along with his carefully chosen administrative assistants, molded freshmen and transfer orientations each year to the changing needs of incoming students. The process went beyond just registering for classes — there were social activities and workshops that included food, films, sports and a family-like spirit. His goal was to reach the attendees, to make a difference in their lives by caring about and understanding them.

His service to the SBU community spans half a century, during which Solo served on and chaired numerous committees and boards, including the University Senate, the first Student Affairs Affirmative Action Committee, the presidential search that chose Jack Marburger, the president’s advisory board on the disabled, and the Faculty Student Association. He was the unofficial photographer of Stony Brook history in the making.

Solo cared about every facet of the campus and students, attending many athletic events each season. After he semi-retired, he went back to teaching chemistry and did student advising at both summer and winter orientation programs.

Rabbi Joseph Topek from the university described Solo as a pioneer. He introduced many new ideas that have become university tradition — it was Solo who first thought of the Roth Pond Regatta.

A memorial visitation will be held on Wednesday at Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket, from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Good Shepherd Hospice or to the Staller Center for the Arts via the Stony Brook Foundation.

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By Bill Landon

It wasn’t like the Newfield football team to trail in a game, but like the first and only other time they found themselves behind this season, it didn’t last.

Both times were against the Colts of Half Hollow Hills West. The first time was when the two teams faced off in September, when the Wolverines went on to outscore their opponent, 41-13. But this time, the teams were on a bigger stage — the Suffolk County Division II championship. Continuing its quest for a perfect season, Newfield propelled past a 20-18 deficit late in the second quarter to help the team claim its second county title since 2011, with a 58-34 victory at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium Friday night.

“From the beginning of the season you work as hard as you can to get here,” Newfield senior Austin Gubelman said. “It’s a surreal feeling, it really is.”

Gubelman, a tight end, scored first on a short run, and after a failed two-point conversion attempt, Hills West cut the Wolverines’ lead in half with a field goal. Newfield senior Elijah Riley, a wide receiver who has been a one-man wrecking machine this postseason with eight touchdowns in the last three games, scored his first of four touchdowns off a handoff he took more than 50 yards for the 12-3 advantage, after another failed two-point conversion attempt, to end the scoring in the first.

The two teams totaled 952 yards, with 516 coming from Newfield. Riley alone finished the game with 146 yards on 11 carries.

With junior Justin Ottenwalder catching a pass up the middle and carrying it 71 yards for a touchdown run, the halfback, who caught three passes for 154 yards and gained 62 yards on eight carries, helped the Wolverines remain in front. But the Colts responded with another field goal and an interception on a screen pass that was returned for a touchdown. With the extra-point attempt successful, Newfield’s opponent took a 20-18 lead with 1:51 left in the half.

Just like in that September matchup, the Wolverines wouldn’t stay behind for long.

With 20 seconds on the clock, Riley took matters into his own hands. He took a handoff up the middle and found nothing. Bouncing off the wall of defenders, the senior looked for an open hole on his first, second and third attempts before cutting to the outside and finding the corner of the end zone from four yards out to put his team out in front, 24-10. From there, the Wolverines never looked back.

Hills West was on the move to start the second half, but a deep throw to a wide receiver was snatched by Newfield senior safety Denzel Williams. From the 18-yard line, Williams returned the interception up field to the 31-yard line. He finished with 108 yards on nine carries.

Newfield senior Ryan Klemm, the team’s quarterback, dumped a screen pass off to Ottenwalder, who jetted down the left sideline, covering 69 yards for the score. With the extra-point attempt by senior kicker Jacob VanEssendelft successful, the Wolverines extended their lead to 31-20 with 7:22 left in the third.

Klemm said he knew his team had the ability to bounce back, and the Wolverines refocused their efforts after a losing record at the end of last year.

“We knew we had a really talented team and we worked very hard in the offseason,” the quarterback said. “It’s surreal right now. It’s an awesome feeling, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

The Colts fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and Newfield junior Jesse McKeever scooped it up and took off for the end zone. The cornerback was stopped just shy of the goal line, and the Wolverines offensive unit went back to work. Gubelman got the call and plowed his way up the middle for his second touchdown in the game. With a missed point-after attempt, the tight end put his team out front, 37-20.

With just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Half Hollow Hills West quarterback Anthony Lucarelli found the end zone on a keeper and, with the point after, the Colts closed the gap a bit.

On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Newfield called on Williams, the Middle Country sprinter, who dashed 64 yards across the field, leading blockers all the way to the end zone. With the kick from VanEssendelft good, Newfield jumped out to a 44-27 advantage.

And after a Hills West three-and-out, Newfield struck again.

With just over a minute left in the third quarter, Riley eluded three tacklers and covered 46 yards for six points. VanEssendelft’s kick split the uprights to blow the game open, 51-27.

Hills West went to the air the rest of the way, and tried to force long passes to make up for lost time. Lucarelli went deep to his wide receiver, who appeared to make the catch but bobbled the ball. Just as deadly defensively at cornerback as he is on offense as a wide receiver, Riley snatched the ball out of the Colts player’s hands for the interception with just over three minutes left in the contest.

The dominant and forceful senior finished the turnover he created with a short plunge into the end zone for his final touchdown of the game. Along with VanEssendelft’s kick, Riley’s score increased his team’s lead to 58-27.

Newfield head coach Joe Piccininni rested his starters on both sides of the ball the rest of the way, and Hills West made the most of the change by scoring one final touchdown.

“Our mistakes were hurting us and we faced a lot of adversity, but we were able to come back tonight,” Piccininni said. “We faced a great football team tonight — they didn’t fall back and they didn’t falter.”

With that, the team was crowned Suffolk County champions, and Newfield will take its undefeated season to the gridiron of Hofstra University on Friday, for a 4:30 p.m. kick off against MacArthur in the Long Island championship game. Although this year looked uncertain after the Wolverines’ 3-6 season last year, Gubelman said he thought his team could do it all along.

“I’ve known my teammates my whole life — we’ve been playing together since we were 5 years old,” he said. “We practice hard the same way we always do, come out with one vision: [to win the] Long Island Championship.”

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