BERKELEY HEIGHTS—Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) announces today the appointment of Aurora Mendez to the role of Camp Director for Music Explorers, a summer enrichment program for students entering grades Pre-K through 2nd grade running each week from June 26 – August 25 . Inspired by Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, Music Explorers will celebrate all of the beasts of the Earth through dynamic musical games, fun-filled crafts and lively role-playing. Music Explorers offers both full and half day options and begins on June 26. Each week is different, enabling campers to sign up for one or more weeks. Students who enroll in all 9 weeks of Music Explorers receive a 10% discount on tuition. For more information about Wharton’s Summer Enrichment programs, visit

Born and raised in New York City, Aurora Mendez began her violin studies at the age of four. After relocating to South America, she became an active member of the national youth orchestra movement of Chile and began her formal musical studies at the University of Chile. While in Santiago, Mendez won numerous scholarships and principal orchestral positions including the concertmaster title of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, principal second violin of the Chilean Municipal Theater Chamber Orchestra, and the National Talent Award. Mendez has traveled the world as a performer with prestigious organizations such as the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile. She has performed for audiences in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, the U.S., and most recently, China. A passionate advocate for music education, Mendez is a Youth Orchestra of the Americas Global Leader Fellow. Through this organization, she was mentored by some of the greatest representatives of international music education organizations and prominent instrumental pedagogues including leaders of El Sistema programs from around the world. An avid performer, Mendez frequently performs chamber and solo music in the greater New York City Area.


Mendez will be replacing Education Coordinator Kristine Peters who is stepping down from her role as Education Coordinator at WIPA in order to prepare for a teaching position in the New York City Public Schools beginning in the Fall.

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Says Peters, “I am pleased to hand the Music Explorers baton over to Aurora. We searched carefully to find someone who will love working with our young students and she is the perfect fit. Her background with the El Sistema program and her effusive personality will make the camp a wonderful experience!”


Wharton summer programs are geared for kids ages 5 to 18, and include beginning music and theater explorations, as well as instrument-specific and orchestral experiences. And because so many families travel in the summer, Wharton is offering the flexibility of one-week programs as well as multi-week. Each program offers something exciting and different from the week before, so you can sign up for more than one!


Summer Enrichment at Wharton

Music Explorers
Entering Pre-K – 2nd Grade
Full Day and Morning Sessions

Theater Explorers
Entering 3rd – 8th Grade
Full Day and Morning Sessions

Musical Theater Enrichment
Audition Workshop

Entering 5th – 10th Grade

Curtain Call (Drama Only)
Entering 3rd – 6th Grade

Triple Threat Musical Theater Intensive
Entering 2nd – 5th Grade

Summer Musical Theater Company*
Entering 5th – 10th Grade
*Audition required.

Instrumental Enrichment
String Camp*
Entering 3rd – 8th Grade
*Placement required.

Jam Band Camp
Entering 6th – 12th Grade

New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestral Camp*
Entering 5th – 9th Grade
*Audition required for new students.

New Jersey Youth Symphony Junior Winds Camp*
Entering 4th – 7th Grade
*Audition required for new students.

New Jersey Youth Symphony Flute Camp*
Entering 8th - 12th
*Audition required for new students.

In addition to our summer enrichment programs, Wharton continue to offer private lessons.   Summer is a great time to practice and make huge progress on your instrument, or to learn a new one.  30-, 45-, or 60-minute lessons are available in packages of 4 or 6. Join us this summer and use the time to hone skills, try something new, and discover the artist within!

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.