Summer concert in the park
David Stewart Wiley conducts the Long Island Concert Orchestra at the annual Islip Arts Council summer concert at Heckscher State Park.

SCN/Musetti Carlin

Summer concert in the park


ISLIP TOWN—There is nothing as lovely as friends, neighbors and family getting together on a balmy summer night under the stars here on Long Island.  Add to it, the Islip Arts Council’s annual free concert held in Heckscher State Park in East Islip. The event, entitled “Honoring Our Hometown Heroes,” which was held on July 15, featured music by the Long Island Concert Orchestra conducted by David Stewart Wiley. A fireworks extravaganza by Grucci was included and topped off a perfect evening.

The annual Free Concert in the Park began in 1978, whose mission was to give Long Islanders an opportunity to show their appreciation for our servicemen and women, our police, firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line for us every day.  This particular concert works in partnership with the United Way of Long Island to help military families in need through generous donations that are collected at intermission.  

This event was made possible through the combined efforts of Suffolk County elected officials, including Legis. Tom Cilmi, NYS Sen. Thomas D. Croci, Legis. William J. Lindsay III and Legis. Monica Martinez, as well as the Suffolk County Parks Department. There was also a multitude of volunteers, including president of the Islip Arts Council board, Michael Mastrantonio.

Conductor Wiley began the program with the “Star-Spangled Banner,” featuring soloist and Islip High School senior Morgiana McDevitt, an Islip Arts Council volunteer who sang a moving rendition of our national anthem.  Wiley included in his musical program one of his own pieces, “Celebration Fanfare,” and ended the featured program with selections from “West Side Story” to the delight of the audience as many people sang along.

 Always a very moving portion of the concert is when the orchestra plays its “Armed Forces Salute,” where veterans and current members of the military are asked to stand to be recognized when their branch’s anthem is played. They stand proudly as the entire field of people applauds their service to our great country.  

The grand finale, of course, is the Grucci’s spectacular fireworks presentation that exploded right overhead to the orchestra’s accompaniment of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “El Capitan.”   It was incredibly moving and a must-experience moment!

The Islip Arts Council, under executive director Lynda A. Moran, offers art and music programs throughout the entire year.  This summer, one may also enjoy the free Brown Bag Lunch Summer Concert Series in Bay Shore and the Free Summer Concert Series held at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River.  For more information about all of the wonderful programs offered, visit their website at