Xaverian students make heavenly music with harps
There are people who believe that they will hear harps playing when they enter heaven. But that heavenly sound can already be heard at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, where there are three harp ensembles showcasing the talents of students.
In response to a demand from musically inclined students, Xaverian High School, located at 7100 Shore Road, created a harp program within its music department several years ago. The school now has three ensembles for students who play the harp.
At the start of the 2015-2016 school year, there were a total of 20 harp students in grades six through 12. Xaverian is a Catholic high school, but it also has a middle school known as Genesis. The high school is currently an all-boys institution but will be going co-ed starting in September of 2016. Genesis is already co-ed.
The harp students are divided into a high school ensemble, a middle school ensemble (known as the Genesis Harp Ensemble) and a beginner ensemble for both middle and high school students.
The harp program currently boasts two pedal harps and a fleet of lever harps.
The program is becoming increasingly popular, according to Xaverian officials, who said the number of beginner harp students goes up each year.
The current ensemble director Robert Randazzo, who graduated from Xaverian in 2008, began playing the harp when he was a senior at the school.
The harpists perform at winter and spring concerts at the school, as well as concerts at churches, nursing homes and at the end of parade routes. The group also performs at the school’s annual gala dinner and open house events.
This year, the Xaverian Harp Ensemble will perform as an instrumental group at the Diocese of Brooklyn Choral Festival.
Joseph Loposky, director of Xaverian’s music program, said the harp program gives students another avenue on which to express their musical talents.
“Our harp ensemble is extremely unique and is an incredible opportunity for any student interested in learning how to play this beautiful instrument,” he said.
Xaverian boasts one of the largest high school music departments in New York City, according to school officials. The program offers students a selection of performing groups and music theory classes: three symphonic bands, two jazz bands, three string orchestras, two guitar ensembles, two concert choirs, a pop chorus, a liturgical choir, a pipe and drum corps, a pep band, a barbershop quartet, a pit orchestra, a rock band and the harp ensembles.
The Xaverian Concert Band performs at parades and civic events throughout the year in Bay Ridge. The Senior Jazz Band travels to Japan to perform and participate in a cultural exchange.
Xaverian’s young musicians have performed for two sitting presidents and two sitting Popes, including Pope Francis during his recent visit to New York City.
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