NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ —91 young musicians in the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s Youth Orchestra (YO) ensemble have raised nearly $14,000 to date for the organization’s annual Playathon, a student-led fundraiser established by the New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) in 1985. The Playathon is the largest free concert of its kind and this Sunday over 450 students from 12 NJYS ensembles will unite as one orchestra to perform the 34th annual Playathon at The Mills at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, NJ.

This year’s Playathon is expected to reach its goal of $100,000, largely due to student efforts that began in September and assisted by the tenacity and hard work of the members of one of its full, advanced orchestras—Youth Orchestra. With nearly 100 members from 46 towns, YO has pulled together to raise more than any other NJYS ensemble through both individual fundraising and as a team, fostering unity and camaraderie—two important fundamental principles at NJYS. The fundraising efforts of all of its ensembles have reached over $55,000 towards the Playathon goal.

Says flutist Brooke Walden, “My favorite part of Playathon is the excitement, awe and smiles the spectators have while watching all the ensembles perform in unity. Sharing our love of music is the greatest reward for me.”

Sign Up for E-News

“Playathon is not only incredibly fun for the students, but it is done for an important cause—fundraising for NJYS. It is an important reminder that we all need to work together to sustain this program for as long as possible,” says violinist Uma Padmanabhan. “I always tell everyone this: my favorite part of YO is, by far, the musical selections. I love how fun and upbeat some of the pieces are, whilst others are graceful and beautiful.”

It is sentiments like these that inspire NJYS students in performance and in fundraising. Recently YO launched a retail campaign, selling sweatpants with the NJYS logo to other members of the organization as well as their friends, families, and the community. 

Says violinist Clare Hofheinz, “As a member of the YO student committee, we wanted to raise money for Playathon and our ensemble. We had been talking about selling NJYS spirit wear for a while, and then someone came up with the idea to make NJYS sweatpants since other ensembles had already made the usual t-shirts and sweatshirts. Playathon is a really fun time for everyone with all skill levels, and it’s a really great bonding experience for people from different NJYS ensembles.” Adds Clare, “My favorite part of Playathon is being a mentor to the younger students. I love to sit with them during the concert and help them get through the music. When I was younger, I looked up to the people who sat with me at the concert, so I try my best to set an example for them.”

The funds raised through Playathon support scholarship aid, to help with the cost of tuition; musical instruments, rehearsal space, and materials needed by students to develop skills; opportunities to perform in venues such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Drew University, William Paterson University, College of St. Elizabeth and many more; and innovative, life-changing instruction, coaching, conducting, and experiences that nurture love of music and encourage mastery of musical skills.

The entire New Jersey Youth Symphony, including Prep Strings, Junior Strings, Sinfonia, Junior Wind Ensemble, Flute Choir, Flute Forum, Philharmonia, Fortissimo Flutes, Clarinet Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Youth Orchestra and Youth Symphony, takes the stage at Center Court at 3:00 p.m. NJYS will dazzle the audience with popular favorites including the Theme from Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean and musical highlights from Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast.

The New Jersey Youth Symphony is the orchestral and ensemble affiliate of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. New Jersey Youth Symphony features fifteen ensembles, available by audition for students in grades 3 – 12. For more information, visit www.njys.org.

The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, and reaches students from 13 counties. All of WIPA’s extraordinary faculty members and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best.