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Students Debut Piece Written for Pine Grove by World Renowned Composer

Sean O'Loughlin conducting
Sean O'Loughlin conducting

With input from Pine Grove Middle School students, world-renowned composer Sean O’Loughlin wrote a piece called “Dawn of the Spartans” as a dedication to mark reopening of their school. The grade 7 and 8 concert bands combined for the premiere of the piece in December during the building’s first middle school concert.

Pine Grove instrumental students worked with Mr. O’Loughlin the past two years through videoconference Skype sessions to learn about the composition process & provide input into the final musical project.

“I enjoy the collaborative element,” Mr. O’Loughlin said. “It benefits both composer and student because you get a more organic quality to the process. The Skype sessions were a great way to collaborate with students in a broad scope. They were really into heavy metal, so we ended up incorporating some really aggressive music—more majestic and movie-like—along the way.”

Pine Grove was closed for two years for a major renovation and addition called the “Greener Greater Grove” project. It reopened in September.

“We thought this would be an excellent way to start in the new building. This piece has great significance to the band and to all of the students at Pine Grove,” said Music Teacher Pam Mastrobattisto.

Named after the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District’s spartan mascot, the published work will also bear Pine Grove’s name. Starting in January, it will be published and available for use worldwide.

The musical project was commissioned through a grant from the East Syracuse Minoa Education Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that is separate from the district and funds innovative project to benefit students not otherwise funded through local, state or other monies.

Students rehearsed with Mr. O’Loughlin on the day of the concert. He conducted and fine-tuned their performance as well as talked about composing the piece. “The music is inspiring and the kids are really into it. The kids were really well prepared,” he said.

About 140 grade 7 and 8 students under the direction of Music Teachers Chuck Penfield and Pam Mastrobattisto performed the piece for a full audience following their individual concerts. See the afternoon rehearsal with Mr. O’Loughlin at

Sean O’Loughlin is a world renowned composer with roots in Central New York as a local high school and Syracuse University graduate. He has collaborated with and toured with artists such as Adele, Kelly Clarkson and Josh Groban. The Californian returns often to CNY as the principal pops conductor for Symphoria. Sean O’Loughlin has composed numerous pieces for concert bands and orchestras and his music is performed around the world.

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