Wharton Music Center (WMC) has added a listening lab and extensive vinyl LP (long playing record) collection to its audio recording studio for listeners of all ages. With over 5,000 records of classical music, opera, rock, Broadway shows, and popular music, the listening lab is free and open to the public. Funded in part by a generous grant from the Hyde and Watson Foundation, the innovative WMC Listening Lab is a significant component of the Paul Jabara Audio Recording Studio, named in memory of Mr. Jabara, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, composer, and Grammy and Oscar winner, by a donor in 2009.

A musical gem, the listening lab contains an extensive and eclectic collection of records with a range of music genres from folksongs to musicals and including presidential speeches. Since 2009, educators, performing artists, and avid record collectors have been contributing their collections to make them available to students and faculty of WMC. In the past year, the collection has grown significantly, and has helped to establish WMC as a destination point for both casual listening and scholarly research. Executive Director, Derek Mithaug, explains his vision for the vinyl listening lab as a historically rich educational experience: “The collection is an outstanding asset to the organization. The history of recorded sound can now be experienced directly. For so many young people, the lab will be one of the few places they might experience the sound of an entire century in one room.”

The listening lab features four listening stations complete with headphone amps, turntables, and connecting devices that give students and visitors an opportunity not only to hear rare and vintage vinyl recordings of the 20th century, but also to transfer those recordings (copyright permitting) to a digital device such as a laptop, tablet, or iPod. In addition to the records housed in the listening lab, WMC has another 2,000 in archived storage. The nexus of the collection is classical recordings from the 1930s-1980s with nearly 80% of the collection spanning the history of Western European instrumental and opera music. However, an equally impressive American musical theatre collection includes many original-cast albums dating back to the early 1920s with the first issue of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate. Other interesting features include radio speeches by Winston Churchill, speeches by President John F. Kennedy, and other eclectic works that offer a unique perspective on the 20th century.

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The Paul Jabara Audio Recording Studio and the adjoining performance hall are available for rent and equipped to handle any project from an audition video to a professional cast recording of a full musical. Jazz ensembles, rock groups, chamber musicians, vocalists, and solo instrumentalists regularly schedule their personal audio and video recordings at Wharton Music Center. For musicians and audiophiles, Wharton Music Center will be offering spring classes in recording engineering, film scoring, and music composition. For more information about the listening lab or to schedule a rental, please call 908.790.0700 or visit www.whartonmusiccenter.org.

Besides records, donations include biographies, books on musical theory, history, and myriad topics of musical interest, instrumental music, and scores. Wharton Music Center is grateful for the continued generosity of its many donors and acknowledges the generosity of Dr. Harold Shanet, Barry Zucker, Hope and William Gusmer, Dick Miles, Filippo Valli, Robert Jozefyk, Karl Gruettemann, Loren Huritz, Judy and Sol Jacobson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dr. Howard Fraidkin, Ruth Nitti, and Derek Mithaug. Wharton Music Center wants to acknowledge the Hyde and Watson Foundation and the Hadad family for their continued support of music education and technology.

Wharton Music Center, located at 60 Locust Avenue 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, choral music, 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 centers serving students in Union, Morris, Essex, Somerset, and other surrounding counties.

New Jersey Youth Symphony, the orchestral and ensemble division of Wharton Music Center (WMC), offers music education for grades 3 through 12. NJYS is located at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. NJYS, one of the foremost youth orchestras in the state, has ten 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.

The mission of Wharton Music Center, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is to advance excellence and education in the performing arts. For more information, visit www.NJYS.org or www.WhartonMusicCenter.org