Lauren Osnato has conducted flute choirs for decades, but during a concert at Old Westbury Gardens earlier this month her musicians jelled like never before.
“This year I felt was the strongest performing group that we had so far,” said Osnato, a band teacher at Lindell School and East School and a founding member of the Long Island Flute Club. “We had several high school students in the group, but they really worked hard and the group really came together very well."
The Holiday Flute Choir’s performance was the latest sign of success for a flute club that originated with 10 members in a room in 1984 and now boasts up to 150 members performing at venues across Long Island. In part, its expanding programs have helped spawn that growth. Today, there are three choirs: professional, honors student and holiday. And three years ago the club started a college division for the club’s High School and College Competitions.
“We’ve started a lot of things over the years and that’s really what I’m most proud of,” Osnato said.
She was eight when she first picked up a flute. She later earned her degree in education/performance at C.W. Post College, and started to teach music in Long Beach schools in 1978.
Osnato and other teachers founded the club with the aim to bring quality flute performances to Long Island students, and provide them with additional educational and instructional opportunities. Today, Osnato is the director and treasurer of a club that consists predominantly of women but is open to all flutists.
Sandra Vigliotti, a Westbury resident that teaches music at Glen Cove Schools, was a long-time on-and-off member up until about six years ago, when she started to perform more consistently with the club. What she enjoys most is how fellow flutists inspire each other to improve, as well as the friendships that she’s formed with like-minded musicians of all ages.
“Without the Long Island Flute Club, I never would have met or had the opportunity to become friends with them,” she said.
Vigliotti plays in the Holiday Flute Choir, which performs one weekend in December, at both Old Westbury Gardens and the United Methodist Church of Lake Ronkonkoma. The program features everything from Christmas standards, including “Silent Night” and “Frosty the Snowman,” to the lesser known “We Three Kings of Orient Are” and “Fum, Fum, Fum.”
“As the conductor of the Holiday Flute Choir,” Vigliotti said of Osnato, “she selects the arrangements that we play and assigns the parts so that everyone feels their contribution is important.”
The club brings in high-caliber flutists from New York City and around the world to perform at its concerts. These include an all-day flute festival each November, which showcases flutists of all ages and culminates with a performance by a headline flute player. The next club event is the High School and College Competition at Nassau Community College in February, followed by a Winners' Recital at the Half Hollow Hills Public Library in Dix Hills in March.
“The thing that gives me the most satisfaction about the club in general is that we’re able to expose our students to performance and educational experiences that would not be available except for the flute club,” Osnato said. “We provide them with things that are above and beyond what they get from their school program.”