BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will honor alumna and faculty member Alyssa Mannarino at its 2016 Gala Benefit on Saturday, March 5 at the New Jersey Youth Symphony located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. Mannarino will be the keynote speaker and will perform at the event. To learn more about Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts programs or to purchase tickets to the 2016 Gala, visit www.WhartonArts.org.

Alyssa Mannarino began voice lessons with former Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Musical Theatre Arts Director Michelle Oram at the age of 12 and continued her performing arts education at Wharton with private lessons and cabaret ensemble class. Mannarino appeared in several WIPA musical theatre productions, including starring roles in Thoroughly Modern Mille, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Little Shop of Horrors, and Urinetown. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Muhlenberg College and is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Music Therapy at Montclair State University with a focus on music therapy hospice care. Mannarino has served as senior counselor and Assistant Director of WIPA’s musical theatre arts summer camps and joined the faculty in the Fall of 2015 as an instructor of Explorations in Musical Theatre and Pathways to Musical Theatre classes.

Additional performances at the 2016 Gala include feature performance by Alumna and Broadway artist Ruby Rakos, WIPA faculty members Mesia Austin, Kevin Brown, Rual Huaman, Elizabeth Moulthrop, Joel Perry, and Eric Olsen, as well as student performances by Melissa Amorim, voice; Steven Douches, voice; Andrew Furst, trumpet; Aiden Garrison, viola; Mason Kung, cello; Lilly Liu, percussion, Maggie Liu, flute; Sahana Narayan, viola; Jade Navarro, voice; Clare Nowik, violin; Iris Peng, cello; James Schadt, piano; Peter Shih, violin; Emily Wang, violin; Stacy Wang, violin; and students from the Paterson Music Project.

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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 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.