BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ—Wharton Music Center (WMC) ends its Community Concert Series with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez featuring guitarist Joel Perry on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. Tickets are $5, available by calling 908-790-0700.

Written in 1939 in Paris, the Concierto de Arajuez was the first work Rodrigo wrote for guitar and orchestra and is far and away his best-known work. Its immediate success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the twentieth century. Nearly blind since age three, Rodrigo was a pianist and did not play the guitar but still managed to capture and project the role of the guitar in Spanish music.

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez in the Madrid region of Spain, one of the Royal Estates of the Crown of Spain built by Philip II in the 16th century. The work attempts to take the listener through sounds of nature in and around the gardens during the period of time in which it was written. Rodrigo described the concerto as capturing "the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains" in the gardens of Aranjuez.

One of the premier guitarists of our time, Joel Perry has performed and recorded with a veritable Who’s Who list of the music world, traveling to over fifteen countries and appearing in venues from Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall to The Rainbow Room, The Blue Note, and Sounds of Brazil. Highlights of Mr. Perry’s musical journeys include collaboration with the late blues great Johnny Copeland during a U.S. Department of State tour of West Africa in 1982. Mr. Perry has appeared with Papa John Creach, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Lavern Baker, Joni Mitchel, Herb Ellis, Rosemary Clooney, Leslie Gore, James Cotton, Percy France, Leon Thomas, Jimmy Dawkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Frank Foster, and Al Hibbler among others. Mr. Perry has released three recordings: Rainbow Skylight, Perry Airs, and Sonata to the Blues. He has served on the faculty of Wharton Music Center teaching guitar, music theory, and ukulele since 2009.

Wharton Music Center, where creativity and expression converge with exploration, provides a diverse range of classes and programs as New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts center. Serving nearly 1,200 students with high quality instruction in all instruments and voice, musical theatre, drama, and dance, Wharton and its esteemed faculty of talented professionals offer instruction for beginners of all ages, as well as an in-depth, sequential course of study through its Achievement Program, and orchestral and ensemble training with the New Jersey Youth Symphony, its orchestral and ensemble affiliate. New Jersey Youth Symphony features fourteen ensembles, available by audition for students in grades 3 – 12, and its premiere ensemble has appeared in such internationally renowned concert halls as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Musikverein in Vienna.

Innovative programming and over 500 classes taught weekly, from Early Childhood Music, music theory, and audio recording to Introduction to Instruments, ensures that there is something for all ages and interests.

Part of our mission as a community school for the performing arts is to engage, educate, and enrich our community with a broad spectrum of accessible programming. Dedicated to serving the community, WMC provides instruction at local public, private and charter schools in after-school settings and during the school day. From an assembly program to a full-year residency, our outstanding faculty collaborates with school principals and staff to offer customized curriculum to meet the needs for music, drama, and musical theatre instruction for each school or organization. One of the highlights of our community programs is the Paterson Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired program that provides intensive music instruction to elementary school students attending the Community Charter School of Paterson. In January 2015, Paterson Music Project partnered with Paterson Public Schools to open a site at Public School 1. This new site serves 75 first through fifth graders from P.S. 1 and P.S. 26. Students in the after-school Instrumental String Program learn violin, viola, and cello for six hours weekly. Younger students participate in Pre-Orchestra, a preparatory program which meets for two hours weekly. Pre-Orchestra students sing, participate in paper orchestra, and play the recorder and buckets.

Wharton Music Center builds personal connections in the community through an array of faculty and student performances, many of which are free and allow community members to become more involved with WMC. These often interactive Community Concerts include classical, jazz and family programs and are held at a variety of venues throughout the region. New Jersey Youth Symphony ensembles, both large and small, perform throughout the community.

Located in Berkeley Heights and New Providence, New Jersey, Wharton Music Center and New Jersey Youth Symphony serve students from thirteen counties.

For additional information about our community programs and class offerings visit our website www.WhartonMusicCenter.org or call 908-790-0700.