BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Eleven student musicians from Ridge High School, the William Annin Middle School, and other nearby high schools responded to the distressing news of recent hurricanes and the victims left behind by reaching out in the way they know best - with music and generous hearts.
AYLUS Basking Ridge, a student-run volunteering organization, hosted a successful disaster relief benefit concert on at the Somerset Hills Lutheran Church in Basking Ridge, performing a wide repertoire of well-known classical music on the piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, and clarinet. The music ranged from Bach to Brahms to Chopin, and beyond.
Donations offered at the free concert - combined online donations - raised a total of $3,412 through online and in-concert donations and all proceeds will go to the Red Cross, said Albert Gu, a Ridge junior who is cofounder and president of the local AYLUS chapter.
Gu, who said the group often performs for senior citizens at Fellowship Village Senior Living in Basking Ridge, said the special concert was set up by the student musicians because, "A lot of people need help."
Donations can still be made online. On Oct. 6, the online fundraising effort received a $100 donation from Banasiak and Nettune Orthodontic Associates of Basking Ridge and Mendham, Gu said. That donation raised the total from the $3,312 raised at the fundraising concert, Gu said.
Gu said about 70 to 80 people attended the concert, including Basking Ridge Mayor Carolyn Gaziano, whom he said thanked the performers for their efforts.
Gu, who performs on piano, said that the national organization of AYLUS helped inspire the local student musicians to use their talents for the fundraiser.
"Recent hurricane activity has affected millions of Americans, inland and overseas," says the online fundraising site hosted by the Basking Ridge chapter. "Countless survivors live without the homes and towns that they used to know. As fellow citizens, we should support those who have suffered from these hurricanes."
AYLUS Basking Ridge Branch of the Alliance of Youth Leaders in the United States, is a non-profit organization run by high school students across the country. The organization engages in a variety of volunteering activities to give back to the community.
Albert Gu is a junior at Ridge High School. He is currently enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music Precollege, studying piano with Professor Phillip Kawin. In 2017, Albert won I Prize at the II Paderewski International Piano Competition in Farmington, CT. He was also the Alternate for the Manhattan School of Music Concerto Competition in 2016. He recently joined the New Jersey Youth Symphony as a pianist and is looking forward to working with the orchestra. In 2016, Albert established the Basking Ridge Branch of AYLUS (the Alliance of Youth Leadership in the United States) with his friends. He enjoys sharing music with others and hopes to create connections between musicians and the community.
Andrew Gu is a 7th grader at William Annin Middle School. He plays both piano and cello. Andrew has won several piano competitions, including I prize in the 2017 Chopin International Piano Competition Hartford, CT, and III prized in the 2016 Paderewski International Piano Competition Farmington, CT. Andrew was a member of the New Jersey CJMEA intermediate regional orchestra in 2017. He has been an active member of AYLUS Basking Ridge since its inception and enjoys performing for local seniors.
Claire Ho is a sophomore at Ridge High School. She is a member of the award-winning Ridge High school A Capella Choir and was also a member of the William Annin Middle School Select Treble Choir. She studies piano and is a winner of the annual PTSA auditions as well as the PTSA competitions, and has performed in the winner’s recital at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Meghan Jin is a sophomore at Ridge High School. She started studying piano with Ms. Gloria Chu when she was 4. Meghan has competed in a number of auditions and competitions in the past 10 years and has received top prizes at competitions sponsored by the Steinway Society of Princeton, Cecilian Music Club, NJMTA, MEA, and the Piano Teachers Congress of New York. In 2017, she won the Grand Prize at the National Young Musicians Showcase Competition and 1st place (duet) and 3rd place (solo) at the MEA Competition. In 2016, she won 3rd place and was selected as Conference Master Class Winner at the NJMTA Young Musicians Competition, as well as 1st place (concerto) in MEA competition. As winners of some of these events, she has enjoyed the opportunities to perform at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, NJPAC and Riders University. In addition to the piano, Meghan loves to sing, read and teach at the local martial arts school.
Andy Kim is a junior at Ridge High School and plays piano. He is the winner of New York International Music Competition, Crescendo International Music Competition, and East Coast International Music Competition. Andy has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Kaufmann Concert Hall in New York City. Andy is an active member of the Bernards Ensemble.
Austin Lee is a sophomore at Delbarton School in Morristown. He has performed at the Carnegie Hall and made his orchestral solo debut with the Queensboro Symphony in 2015. He was the concertmaster of William Annin Middle School orchestra as well as the Repertory Orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College division. Austin was a recipient of the Best Performer Award at the VIVO International competition. Austin is a founder and a member of Bernards Ensemble, a group of talented student musicians who plays music for children with disabilities in New Jersey area. Austin currently studies violin with Bela Horvath, a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music Pre–College division.
Sean Lee is a junior at North Hunterdon High School in Clinton Township. He is the winner of several competitions including the Concert Festival International Competition and WMC NJYS Young artist Competition. Sean has performed at Kauffman Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He was also invited to play Hungarian Rhapsody by David Popper with Queensboro Symphony Orchestra. Sean is the Principal cellist in the North Hunterdon High School and String Ensemble. As a member of NJYS under conductor Jeffrey Grogan, he won first prize in the Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival and performed in Musikverein, Vienna, Austria in 2017. Sean is a founding member of the Bernards Ensemble.
Stephanie Lu is a 7th grader at William Annin Middle School. When Stephanie listened to classical music for the first time, she instantly loved it and decided that one day, she would also be a musician. A few years later, she heard a beautiful flute piece at a concert and fell in love with the instrument. Stephanie has been playing flute for 4 years now. She is a member of the Wind Ensemble in William Annin Middle School and the New Jersey Youth Symphony flute choir. We hope you enjoy her performance and the concert altogether.
Kevin Tang is a sophomore clarinetist with the Ridge High School Wind Ensemble. He has played clarinet since 4th grade for a total of 6 years. In addition to being an officer in the Ridge Tri-M Music Honor Society, he has performed in the Region and All-State bands for 3 consecutive years. During the summer, he performed at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Basking Ridge Facility for patients.
Daniel Woo is a high school musician who has been playing viola since 3rd grade. Since 9th grade, Daniel has been accepted into the Central Jersey High School Region Orchestra and the New Jersey All-State Orchestra. Daniel has also played in the New Jersey Youth Symphony, a youth orchestra program, for 4 years.
Jimmy Yu is currently a junior violinist at Ridge High School. Starting at the age of 6, he has performed in various locations, including venues such as Carnegie Hall and the renowned Musikverein in Vienna, Austria. He is and has been a part of several orchestras, including the Youth Symphony of NJYS, New Jersey All-state and Regional Orchestra, and the All-National Honor Orchestra, which will be performing in Orlando, Florida this coming Thanksgiving.