Arts & Entertainment

New Jersey Youth Symphony Joins NJ350 Celebration

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NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Jersey Youth Symphony, one of the nation’s foremost youth orchestras, is honoring and celebrating NJ350.

Beginning with a collaborative performance with the New Jersey Ballet on Feb. 23 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown as part of their “New Jersey Ballet Celebrates New Jersey” to the New Jersey Youth Symphony Playathon on March 23 at Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, the New Jersey Youth Symphony continues celebrating the birth of its home state by once again joining the New Jersey Ballet for its Gala Performance on April 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

One of the ballet company’s largest projects ever undertaken, with seven ballets and five choreographers, "New Jersey Ballet Celebrates New Jersey" was the first collaboration between the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the New Jersey Ballet, and the performance proved to be both an exciting and educational experience for the young musicians, from learning how to rehearse with dancers to accompanying the ballet from the pit.

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The Feb. 23 program also included the orchestral work, “Prayer,” written by New Jersey resident Amanda Harberg. Harberg, a graduate of the Juilliard School and Fulbright recipient, resides in Glen Ridge and has garnered international acclaim as a composer of “truly beautiful music” that is “hauntingly moving” as well as “audience-engaging.” Her music continually engages audiences and performers alike on emotional as well as intellectual levels. With commissions from the Albany Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, and University of Nevada Symphony, Harberg’s music can be heard on Albany records, Koch International, Centaur Records, and American Modern Ensemble Records.

Harberg’s piece, “Prayer,” was originally conceived as part of a larger work for solo viola and orchestra. The youth orchestra received a 2012 Performance Grant from Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, a project of The Rebecca Clarke Society and Women’s Studies Research Center in Waltham, Mass. in order to perform the work.

Also appearing on the Feb. 23 program was the piece, “Quintessential Dances,” for orchestra and ballet by yet another New Jersey resident, 14-year-old Graham Cohen. The piece was first performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in June 2013 as a result of Cohen’s winning the New Jersey Symphony Young Composers Competition. 

Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Ave. 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 center serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, and other surrounding counties.

WMC offers orchestral and ensemble music education for grades 3 through 12 through New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) located at 570 Central Ave. in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has 11 orchestras and ensembles for which auditions are held annually. NJYS’s premiere 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 is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization intended to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit www.WhartonMusicCenter.org or www.NJYS.org.

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