Arts & Entertainment

New Jersey Youth Symphony 30th Anniversary Playathon: Using Social Media to Fill Air with Music

ELIZABETH, NJ - Over 400 young musicians, all members of New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), will perform as one orchestra at The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth on Sunday, March 23 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Celebrating thirty years of coming together for this remarkable performance to celebrate and support NJYS, students ranging in age from 8 to 18 and from eleven different ensembles will participate in the annual 2014 NJYS Playathon under the direction of Artistic Director Jeffrey Grogan. Not to be missed, the Playathon is free and open to the public.

The Playathon, NJYS’s largest fundraising event, expects to reach its 2014 goal of $100,000 largely due to student efforts that began nearly six months ago, leading up to the big event at Jersey Gardens on March 23. All 425 NJYS students participate in the Playathon, fostering teamwork and camaraderie which are both fundamental principles of NJYS. This year’s Playathon fundraising efforts focus on the impact of social media and its unparalleled ability to get people to rally around a cause. NJYS Administrative Coordinator Stacy Beltran brainstormed with students and parents to create #NJYSPlayathon2014, capitalizing on the recent popularity of hashtags to further awareness and spread the word throughout various social media platforms.

Says Ms. Beltran, “#NJYSPlayathon2014 is a hit! Our families are anxiously awaiting the concert on March 23, and in the meantime the donations are rolling in! I am delighted to be a part of a thriving music organization with such a building crescendo of excitement--and I have a front row seat!”  

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Students raise money individually by soliciting family, friends, and area businesses; as ensemble teams using Razoo, a popular online resource for crowdfunding for social causes; and through a grassroots movement of selling baked goods, jewelry, and note cards at rehearsals and in their communities. NJYS’s most elite ensemble, Youth Symphony, is using ShopwithScrip to raise funds. An online ordering system that gathers scrips, or money substitutes like gift certificates and prepaid cards, ShopwithScrip allows participants to earn money for their nonprofit by applying an enrollment code supporting their organization with each of their purchases from hundreds of available retail brands. Meanwhile, NJYS uses social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote their fundraising efforts.

Artistic Director Jeffrey Grogan says, “Playathon is the one moment each year when the whole NJYS family performs together.  It is a thrilling event for all of our students and inspiring for everyone who witnesses this wonderful musical exchange between over four hundred students of all ages.”

NJYS will perform crowd-pleasing favorites from “Harry Potter,” “Les Miserables,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Empire Strikes Back,” and “Phantom of the Opera” as well as other popular showpieces.

The public is invited to join in the fun and listen to great music while supporting one of New Jersey’s largest youth orchestras. Jersey Gardens is located at 651 Kapkowski Road in Elizabeth, NJ.

New Jersey Youth Symphony is the orchestral and ensemble division of Wharton Music Center, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), which provides music education for grades 3 through 12, is located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has eleven orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premier orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.

Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, provides music, theatre, and dance instruction, educational programs, and performances for children, teens, and adults. In addition to instruction in all instruments and voice, WMC offers classes in musical theatre, dance, drama, vocal music, music theory, audio recording, early childhood music, and music for children with special needs. Offering a range of musical genres including classical, rock, jazz, and blues, WMC is one of New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts centers serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, Middlesex, and surrounding counties.

The mission of Wharton Music Center is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit www.WhartonMusicCenter.org or www.NJYS.org.

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