Concert by the bay
Conductor Paul Little and members of the West Islip Symphony Orchestra made beautiful music on West Islip Beach.


Concert by the bay



WEST ISLIP—Last Wednesday evening, the West Islip Symphony Orchestra managed to avoid a thunderstorm and performed along the Great South Bay at West Islip Beach.

The orchestra, comprised of about 50 members of all ages, began playing at 7 p.m. and continued for another hour and a half, performing both classic and more contemporary music. Since the concert was free to attend, all a person needed to bring was his or her own chair and an open mind. 

Concert-goers were anywhere from toddlers to senior citizens, but for those young children who may need some extra entertainment, Madeline’s Playground, dedicated to a victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, was an attraction where face painting and ice cream were available.

The orchestra, conducted by Paul Little, opened with a Bugs Bunny-inspired song titled “What’s Up?” The upbeat song often included Little stopping the performance to turn to the audience and shout clever Bugs Bunny lines. Little ended the piece with a stuttering, “That’s all folks!”

Local Boy Scouts of America Troop 95 attended the concert and handed out cookies and water bottles to the crowd. Bulls I BBQ served up some savory food and Nancy’s Ice Cream Truck served ice cream and sodas. Good Samaritan Hospital, Atlantic Hyundai and community groups sponsored the event.

Nancy Donohue, who has been president of the symphony orchestra since 1991, said the evening felt like a success because it was well-attended, people were enthusiastic to be there, and it provided a service some people find tedious to receive. When most people think about seeing a quality orchestra, they imagine traveling to New York City to spend an exorbitant amount on tickets, meals and transportation, and dealing with time constraints, according to Donohue. This orchestra has been offering the community cheap or free entertainment for about 30 years.

“The biggest problem I’ve had is letting people know we have such a fine orchestra here in town,” Donohue said.

The orchestra showcased its ability to play a variety of new and old music, from the themes to “Schindler’s List” and “Indiana Jones,” to Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are.” As the concert progressed, the orchestra performed a salute to cinema, which lasted over five minutes and included many intense crescendos and soft diminuendos. After that, the group performed a song from “Star Wars,” enticing many children to sing along.

Many veterans attended the concert, which made the final songs more meaningful. The orchestra performed a medley of service songs to salute all branches of the Armed Forces and give thanks to all who served. For each specific song performed, veterans in the crowd stood with his or her corresponding branch and received applause and cheers.

Donohue said holding an event such as this one is important for young people to see and hear what quality music is.

“I was overjoyed we have some very young performers,” Donohue said. “One of the reasons I stayed involved is because I feel that young people must hear what fine music is.”

Although there were some difficulties to overcome, such as unpredictable weather or bugs, the concert went smoothly and was well-received by many. To learn about upcoming events, go online to