BERKELEY HEIGHTS—It is with great pleasure that the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts welcomes Dr. Mesia Austin as its new Interim Director of Percussion and Conductor of the Percussion Ensemble. Dr. Austin is an adjunct professor of percussion at Rutgers University from which she received her Doctor of Musical Arts in 2016. She holds a Master of Music from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Kennesaw State University.
As an orchestral percussionist, Dr. Austin has performed with the Plainfield Symphony, Garden State Philharmonic, and Princeton Symphony Orchestra. She founded Ozone Percussion Theater, a competitive percussion ensemble that performed in the Winter Guard International competition circuit. Created to offer fundamental marching percussion skills to students in rural Georgia, it grew into an award-winning novice ensemble.
In her new position, Dr. Austin will be working with the three full orchestras of the New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS): Youth Symphony, Youth Orchestra, and Philharmonia, as well as fulfilling the percussion needs for the other NJYS ensembles. She will conduct the Percussion Ensemble, which incorporates student percussionists from the NJYS orchestras as well as other students from the community who seek to learn percussion ensemble repertoire.
In addition to her new duties as Director of Percussion, Dr. Austin is the Site Director and Percussion Teacher for the Paterson Music Project.
As part of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, the New Jersey Youth Symphony has a rich history of fostering musical talent for over 35 years. Each of its 14 ensembles offers participants a different, yet fully rounded experience. The family of orchestras serves students from 3rd to 12th grades. NJYS is committed to providing the finest ensemble musical training led by our staff of experienced and renowned conductors, and is known for its high standard of excellence throughout the United States and internationally.
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 is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving over 1,400 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 14 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony which serve 500 students in grades 3 - 12. Beginning with Early Childhood music classes for infants and toddlers, WIPA offers private lessons, group classes and ensembles for all ages and all abilities. We believe in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and believe that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay. We teach all instruments and voice and have a robust musical theatre program.
The Paterson Music Project is Wharton’s El Sistema-inspired program held at the Community Charter School of Paterson and Paterson Public School 1/26. Students receive 6 hours of intensive music instruction each week with the goal of creating social change through the ambitious pursuit of musical excellence.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ 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.