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Wharton Music Center 2013 Spring Gala Honorees

Credits: Dan Eldridge
Credits: Dan Eldridge

At its 2013 Spring Gala on Saturday, April 20 at Union County Performing Arts Center and Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts in Rahway, New Jersey, Wharton Music Center honored community volunteer Libby Corydon-Apicella of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey and music education supporter Jean Burgdorff of Merritt Island, Florida. Wharton Music Center honored Ms. Corydon-Apicella for her extraordinary volunteerism to Wharton Music Center and the Berkeley Heights community and honored Jean Burgdorff for her lifelong devotion to supporting music education.

In accepting her honor, Ms. Corydon-Apicella stressed the importance of the performing arts in people’s lives and the need for community support. Mrs. Burgdorff compared the study of music to English, history, and arithmetic saying, “You cannot cram for music. It is a subject that requires discipline and must be learned with practice over time.” She intoned that parents need to value music as they would other academic subjects. “When children ask if they can quit taking music lessons, parents need to respond as though the child was asking to stop taking math.”    

As a strong supporter of the arts, Libby Corydon-Apicella is a firm believer that the arts are an integral part of a child’s education and life-long learning. Ms. Corydon-Apicella, a Trustee of Wharton Music Center (WMC), serves on the Development Committee and has served as chair of past Gala Silent Auction Committees. In 2010, she organized a performance exchange program for WMC musical theater teens who performed in summer festivals along Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast.

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Ms. Corydon-Apicella continues her passion for the arts as one of the founders and current President of CAST (Creative Arts Support Team), a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and develop opportunities for Berkeley Heights public school students in the visual and performing arts. CAST volunteers assist high school and middle school drama and choral students, Teen Arts, elementary Music Day programs, district workshops and concerts, classroom projects, and performances for senior citizens and raise funds from community businesses.

Jean Burgdorff, co-owner of ERA Showcase Properties & Investments, is an admired and respected expert in the real estate industry. In 1995, she was appointed a member of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission by Governor Christine Todd Whitman. Throughout her career, Mrs. Burgdorff has been honored frequently by local and national organizations and is widely recognized for her professional achievements and philanthropic activities.

Mrs. Burgdorff co-founded Burgdorff Realtors, a large real estate company in New Jersey, with her husband. She served as its President from 1968 to 1991. Under her leadership, the firm rose to become a major force in the New Jersey real estate industry and expanded from one to thirty-two offices across New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. In 1991, Mrs. Burgdorff became Chairman of the company and her son, Peter, became President. In 1996, Burgdorff Realtors was acquired by National Realty Trust as a franchised brokerage firm of ERA Franchise Systems, Inc., of which Peter Burgdorff became President. In the 1990s, New Jersey Monthly named Mrs. Burgdorff “Businesswoman of the Year”.

Her community involvement in Florida includes Brevard Literacy project and four years’ service as mentor to Cocoa High School students through Junior Achievement. In New Jersey, she was past chairman of Summit Interfaith Clergy Council and supported the Burgdorff Cultural Center, which she donated to the town of Maplewood. In 1997, the Arts Council of Maplewood awarded her the “Patron of the Arts Award”.

Mrs. Burgdorff graduated from Columbia University with the degree of Bachelor of Education and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. She was a member of the piano faculty at Rutgers University.

A woman of far-ranging interests, Mrs. Burgdorff balances professional pursuits with a vigorous and exciting life of music, travel, and active church participation. Her recent book, It’s Not the Money, is available at and chronicles a professional life built on the Golden Rule. Mrs. Burgdorff is the mother of two sons, Peter and Charles, grateful grandmother of seven, and a great grandmother as well.

Wharton Music Center (WMC), located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, provides music, theater, 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 theater, dance, drama, choral 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 music centers serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, and other surrounding counties. WMC is a founding school of The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program.

New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), the orchestral and ensemble division of Wharton Music Center, offers music education for grades 3 through 12. NJYS is located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence, New Jersey. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has eleven orchestras and ensembles including Flute Forum, Percussion Ensemble, and New Jersey Youth Jazz Orchestra for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere orchestra, Youth Symphony, has performed in internationally-renowned concert halls such as Carnegie all in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.

Throughout the summer, WMC and NJYS offer full-day and half-day camps for children and teens ages 5 through 18. WMC’s multi-faceted “Who’s Got Talent?” Camp gives campers an opportunity to experience music, dance, and theater and includes swimming at Berkeley Heights Community Pool. FOCUS camps offer intensive workshops in music, dance, and theater. The NJYS Orchestral Camp, a two-week camp, features performance ensembles, music classes in music theory and ear training, and improvisation. “Tune-Up” Camp at NJYS offers students a chance to get in musical shape for the upcoming school year.

The mission of Wharton Music Center, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit or


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