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Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Presents Fall Faculty Concert October 23


BERKELEY HEIGHTS—Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) presents a Fall faculty concert featuring some of its talented staff on Sunday, October 23 at 3:00 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. The concert is free and open to the public.

Says pianist Eric Olsen of the selections he will perform on the concert, “Dance of the Old Herdsman by Alberto Ginastera immediately strikes the ear as being odd. The reason is as simple as it is strange: the left hand plays only black notes, while the right plays only white notes.  Despite the seemingly unavoidable cacophony of that arrangement, Ginastera manages to frame a simple and charming melody through the use of rhythm and texture. Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King describes Peer Gynt’s adventure in the underground Kingdom of the Trolls. Listen to the trolls creeping up on Peer! This musical adventure is an updated jazz version from my latest album, “Sea Changes.”

Works to be performed at the Halloween-themed event include Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre, Feuilles mortes (Dead Leaves) by Claude Debussy, Witchcraft for voice and piano by Cy Coleman, Dialogue for Snare Drum and Timpani by Garwood Whaley, Danza del viejo boyero (Dance of the Old Herdsman) by Alberto Ginastera, a jazz arrangement of In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg, selections from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat, K. 477 and Cuban Danzas by Ignacio Cervantes, arranged by Elias Barrerio for flute and guitar.

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Says guitarist Joel Perry of the piece he will perform on the concert, Rainbow Skylight, “This is the title composition of one of my CDs. I composed it while working at New York City’s Rainbow Room, looking out the window at the sunset while performing solo guitar—which I had the privilege to do five nights a week, four hours a night, for four years!”

Percussionist Mesia Austin has performed with the Atlanta Orchestra, Georgia Symphony Orchestra, and Hollywood Concert Orchestra. She has appeared with Bill Hart, the Jaxx Band and has recorded with Royal Flush at Stankonia Studios. She has performed solo marimba as a guest performer for the Tyler Perry Studios and has participated in the Zeltsman Marimba Festival and performed at PASIC. Equally at home performing jazz, Latin, pop, and Afro-Cuban styles as well as classical percussion, Ms. Austin received her Bachelor of Music degree from Kenneshaw State University, Master of Music degree from Georgia State University, and Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rutgers University.

WIPA Musical Theatre Arts Director Timothy Maureen Cole holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Ithaca College, and has been teaching voice, musical theater, and piano since 2007. She holds certification in Early Childhood Music Education from Kindermusik International, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to private and group instruction, Cole has collegiate teaching experience at Horry Georgetown Technical College and James Madison University. A coloratura soprano, Cole has extensive performance experience in classical and music theater repertoire. Recent performances include Aics and Galatea (Damon), Elixir of Love (Adina), Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, and Scarlatti’s La Giuditta. Music Theater performances include: Kiss Me Kate, Anything Goes, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Once Upon A Mattress, and My Favorite Year. Cole has worked backstage in theater for many years building sets, organizing props, costumes, and schedules at Westminster Choir College from 2008-2010, and later as an assistant director at James Madison University Opera. She has also staged and musically directed several youth theater summer productions and programs, most recently, Honk Jr. in 2015.

Kathleen Ditmer began playing horn at an early age in church.  She was awarded a scholarship to the Hartford Conservatory and won the Hartford Conservatory solo competition at age 14.  She joined the musician’s union at 17 to play next to her teacher, Andy Spearman, with the Hartford and New Britain Symphonies. She attended Hartt College of Music and then moved to Nashville where she finished her Bachelor of Music degree while working as a studio musician and performing with the Nashville Symphony and in shows at Opryland, USA. She continued her studies at the Musikhochschule in Berlin. Her Graduate Assistant studies at Florida State University included jazz arranging and assistant horn and trumpet instructor before finishing her Master of Arts degree at Western Illinois University. Ms. Ditmer has performed with the American Ballet Theater, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She can be heard on numerous TV and movie soundtracks, as well as Broadway shows including Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.

The versatile career of flutist Laura George includes performances at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and on Broadway in My Fair Lady. Ms. George was a Young Artist Winner with the St. Louis Symphony, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.  Chamber music performances at Lincoln Center include the International Bach Society, Opera Club of the Met, New York City Ballet Guild, and the Richard Morse Mime Theater. Her ensembles have also performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bargemusic, Channel 13, IBM Concert Series, Sony Plaza, French Embassy and Columbia University. Ms. George has toured nationally for Columbia Artist and with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players. In addition to performing on New York radio stations WQXR, WNCN, WBAI, and WNYC, she has been heard on two National Public Radio series and an intermission film feature on HBO. She has performed with the St. Louis Symphony, St. Louis Municipal Opera Orchestra, New York Virtuosi, St. Lukes Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Broadway Pops Orchestra, Charles Ives Summer Symphony, Julius Grossman Orchestra, Queens Symphony, Queens Opera, Amor Artis, Westfield Symphony, Sacred Heart Cathedral Orchestra, Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey Pops, Wayne Chamber Orchestra, Virtuosi de Camera, Rutgers Summerfest Orchestra, New Philharmonic of New Jersey, Ars Musica Chorale, Oratorio Society of New Jersey and the New Jersey Choral Society. She holds a Master of Music degree in Music from Western Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she graduated magna cum laude. She has been awarded recognition in Outstanding Young Women of America. Ms. George has recorded for Sine Qua Non and along with harpist Beth Robinson released a debut CD, “The Enchantment of Flute and Harp.”

Eric Olsen has crafted a distinguished career in both classical and jazz music as a pianist and organist, composer, and conductor. His recordings include Dyad, a collaborative jazz/classical duet with alto saxophonist Louis Caimano, his most recent release, and Jazz Inspired Classics, featuring works by American composers including Copland, Schuller, Gould, and Nancarrow. As composer and leader of his long-standing jazz group Urban Survival, Mr. Olsen released two CDs, one with acclaimed tenor saxophonist George Garzone. He has performed with guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Cherry, sideman to Dizzy Gillespie, and has accompanied operatic bass Kevin Maynor on three recordings, the Grammy-nominated CD The Black Art Song, Jazz Hymns, and From Another American. As an accompanist, Mr. Olson has worked with the internationally renowned vocal studios of Betty Allen, Klara Barlow, Walter Cassel, Giorgio Tozzi, and Virginia Zeani. Mr. Olsen has performed at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, and the Knitting Factory in New York and in India and New Zealand. Mr. Olsen has been a featured soloist with the Livingston Symphony, the Central Jersey Symphony, and the Orchard Park Symphony and a featured jazz performer at the AT&T, Berk’s, and Asbury Park Jazz Festivals. Currently Director of Music and Organist at the Union Congregational Church in Montclair, he has conducted Fauré’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bush’s Christmas Cantata, Flagello’s The Passion of Martin Luther King, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Part I, and Pärt’s Berlin Mass with members of the New Jersey Symphony. He has performed the first act of Wagner’s Die Walküre on piano and selections from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on organ with his wife, Pamela Olsen, an accomplished soprano. In addition to serving on the faculty of Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, Mr. Olsen is an Adjunct Faculty member at Montclair State University. He holds two Master’s degrees in Piano Performance and Jazz Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor’s with High Distinction in Piano and Organ Performance from Syracuse University.

Timpanist and Percussionist Adrienne Ostrander graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University School of Music. She has studied with George Gaber, Roland Kohloff, and Buster Bailey. As the timpanist and percussionist with Solid Brass, Ms. Ostrander has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico and has made numerous recordings. She has performed on Broadway in Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George. In New Jersey, Ms. Ostrander has performed in several productions at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn. She regularly performs with the Princeton Symphony, Westminster Choir College, Plainfield Symphony, and Sinfonietta Nova. Her festival performances have taken place in Greece, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Yugoslavia, France, and Cuba. Ms. Ostrander has coached the New Jersey Youth Symphony and New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra and is on the faculty of Stokes Music Camp. She performs educational concerts in schools with Young Audiences of New Jersey, Solid Brass, The New Philharmonic of New Jersey, Arts Horizons, Arts Alive, and BRAVO! Ms. Ostrander is a member of the award winning Rampant Lion Bagpipe Band of Basking Ridge, NJ.

Joel Perry, one of the premier guitarists and musicians of our time, has performed in over fifteen countries and in venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Garden State Arts Center, The Rainbow Room, Windows on the World, and the U.S. Department of State tour of West Africa with blues artist Johnny Copeland. Mr. Perry has performed with such legendary artists as Papa John Creach, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Lavern Baker, Joni Mitchel, Herb Ellis, Rosemary Clooney, Leslie Gore, Margaret Whiting, Eddie Fischer, James Cotton, Percy France, Leon Thomas, Jimmy Dawkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Ken Peplowski and Al Hibbler. He has recorded with Johnny Copeland and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and has three of his own CD releases: “Rainbow Skylight”, “Perry Airs”, and “Sonata to the Blues”. Mr. Perry holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, graduating magna cum laude, Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Buffalo, Master of Arts Degree in Guitar Performance from Jersey City State University, and completed a Summer Fellowship at Northwestern University. He is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Association of Jazz Educators, Music Educators National Conference, and American Choral Directors Association.

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. 

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