BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Orchestra Parents Association was created to support the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Orchestra, and there are already a number of events planned to fundraise for the music program that has been accepted as the first New Jersey orchestra to attend a national festival in Indianapolis.

Events this year kick off with a benefit concert featuring TUSK at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School auditorium from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 22.

TUSK is a Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band, and is playing a two-hour show. Kim Williams, the orchestra director at the middle school, is the violinist, keyboardist and singer.

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“I cover the parts played by Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac’s keyboard player/vocalist/songwriter,” Williams said.

Williams said she had been trying to get AnnaRene Jeremiah, who runs the Orchestra Parents Association, to attend a show.

“So when she did come to see us play, she asked if we would do a fundraiser for the newly formed Bridgewater-Raritan High School Orchestra Parents Association to help offset costs associated with the symphony orchestra’s trip to the Music For All National Festival in Indianapolis,” Williams said. “She was very excited about the fact that I was a teacher in the district and taught most if not all of the students involved in the trip, so it really seemed like a no-brainer.”

Adding to the incentive, Williams said, TUSK drummer Tom Nelson is also a teacher, teaching band and choir in the Southern Tioga School District in Pennsylvania. The other members of the band are bass player Randy Artiglere, Kathy Phillips and Scott McDonald.

“TUSK is very excited for the opportunity to give back by way of supporting these students and their musical endeavors,” Williams said. 

Proceeds from the sale of tickets to the concert will be going toward the students’ travel and accommodation expenses for the Indianapolis trip.

“And to add a special touch to the performance, the Pantera Orchestra, BRHS’s select string ensemble, will be joining us onstage for a couple of songs,” Williams said. “We are so excited for that. I rehearsed with them the other day and they sound fantastic.”

“Personally, being able to share the stage with these students will be one of the highlights of my teaching and performing career,” she added.

Doors for the concert will open at 1:30 p.m. for audience members to visit the vendors and concessions, with auditorium doors opening at 2 p.m. and the show starting at 3 p.m.

Williams said they will be playing two sets, and audience members will hear all the top hits of Fleetwood Mac, plus a few more obscure songs from the band.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for students.

To get tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/concert-by-tusk-the-ultimate-fleetwood-mac-tribute-tickets-30326137293?aff=es2.

In addition to the concert, the association has a Go Fund Me campaign running through the beginning of March for the trip, which is being held from March 9 through March 11.

“The symphony orchestra was selected for the festival based on a recorded audition process last year,” said Rajita Bhavaraju, a member of the Orchestra Parents Association. “The BRHS Wind Ensemble has also been selected and we are happy to be doing this together.”

The campaign, Bhavaraju said, will help to defray the cost of bus transportation, fees and accommodation costs for the three-day trip, which is expected to cost over $27,000.

“Even just $10 per donor can go a long way to funding the arts locally,” she said. “The student musicians will be attending master classes with nationally renowned artists.”

The BRHS orchestra is the first from New Jersey to be invited to perform at this festival. The festival is one of the nation’s top music festivals for students all over the country, and there is a rigorous audition process to be accepted.

As of mid-January, the Go Fund Me page had raised $1,240.

To donate or for more information, visit https://www.gofundme.com/get-brhs-symphony-orchestra-to-indy.

The Orchestra Parents Association will be hosting a number of other events over the next few months, including a Music for All Preview Concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

The tickets for the Music For All Preview concert are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children, with tickets being sold at the door only. The concert will feature songs they will be performing at the festival.

There will be concessions and vendors at the preview concert, all benefiting the students’ trip.

Dan Musacchio, the orchestra director at the high school, said this festival is a wonderful achievement for the students.

“The BRHS orchestra program has been one of the top orchestra programs in the state for decades,” he said. “However, this is the first national festival the symphony orchestra is attending.”

“BRHS is proud to be the first orchestra from New Jersey ever accepted into this festival,” he added. “Students last year worked very hard to put together an application for this festival, including two recording sessions. It is the effort of all of the students, parents and teachers, both past and present, who have led to this great accomplishment.”