The talented Robert Pietrzak has played in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and incongruously, the Donkey Lounge in Farmingdale.
How did Pietrzak get there? “One Note at a Time,” as jazz composer Doug Beach (2001) would say.
Pietrzak just got back from a month away with the New York State Summer School of the Arts - School of Orchestral Studies (NYSSSA). He joined approximately 100 students across the state who were accepted by audition. It is held every summer at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and Skidmore College in conjunction with the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra musicians who are their teachers and mentors. While there, Robert was selected for the prestigious 2011 F. Ludwig Diehn Scholarship for merit.
Before his NYSSSA experience this summer, Pietrzak played first trumpet in the All-National Honors Band in June. The concert was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and was sponsored by the National Association of Music Educators (NAfME). He had an opportunity to play in the band with 83 students from all over the country, under the directorship of Dr. Thomas Duffy, director of bands at Yale University and Yale School of Music.
Pietrzak was accepted into the New York All-State Band, with performances scheduled in early December in Rochester.
“Robert is among the most gifted and versatile musicians I have ever encountered, but what truly sets him apart is how he develops his talents. He never stops learning and is always pushing himself to improve. He is relentless in his pursuit of excellence, but equally modest, reserved and receptive to direction," said Jim McCrann, his Wind Ensemble band teacher at Garden City High School. "As impressive an accomplishment as All-National is, it is only the beginning of what will be a lifetime of remarkable musical and personal achievement.”
The rising senior plays a silver Bach Professional Stradivarius B Flat trumpet in the Marching Band under director Brandon Psenicka. Now he is section leader for the trumpets.
Pietrzak dropped football in order to accommodate the rigorous performance schedule. He has been in Wind Ensemble, Chamber Choir with Robert Ludwig and Jazz Ensemble after school. He is looking forward to taking the new music research class with Ludwig this year.
On top of all his music credentials, Pietrzak somehow has time to study other subjects in school and has a high “A” average.
Pietrzak plays in the Nassau-Suffolk Band and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. He takes private trumpet lessons with Pat Dougherty of Massapequa and voice lessons with Hope Hudson, a soloist at Garden City Community Church.
"Music evolved to become the biggest part of my life. I've been so lucky to have such amazing people to guide me along and to help make me the musician I am today," said Pietrzak.
In addition, Pietrzak formed a rock band with friends called “No Good News.” While he plays trumpet, Matt Boonshaft plays trombone, Chris Regan sings, Kevin Burke is on guitar, Teddy Sahr plays drums, Bobby Sciaca plays guitar and Dan Donovan is on bass. They’ve had paid gigs in the Vibe Lounge in Rockville Centre, the Broadway Bar in Amityville and the aforementioned Crazy Donkey to great reviews.
Robert is the son of Adele and Steve Pietrzak and will be a college music major in September 2012.