Arts & Entertainment

South Orange-Maplewood Middle School Students Accepted at Juilliard

Christina Jones, with Maplewood Middle School music teacher Jennifer Dodge. Credits: Maplewood Middle School
Cosimo Fabrizio, with South Orange Middle School music teachers Bill Cook (left) and Don Tighe.  Credits: Maplewood Middle School

Two South Orange-Maplewood Middle School students have been accepted by Juilliard to participate in its highly prestigious, competitive Music Advancement Program (MAP) for instrumental instruction.

Christina Jones and Cosimo Fabrizio were accepted by the program, now in its 20th year, following auditions held at both middle schools. They are the first students from New Jersey to participate in the program.

Juilliard decided to audition students beyond the New York City area for MAP and contacted South Orange-Maplewood Director of Fine Arts Anthony Mazzocchi.

Sign Up for E-News

Four students were actually accepted into the program. However, the two additional students, Christina Johnson and Matthew Williams, are moving on with other plans.

“We are fortunate in our community to be in such close proximity to the greatest music conservatory in the world,” said Mazzocchi. “Until recently this program has catered exclusively to New York City students. Given the strength of the arts in our community, I find it completely appropriate that our students are the first ever from New Jersey to finally be able to attend.”

According to the letter Mazzocchi received from Juilliard explaining the program, it is a “Saturday instructional program for highly talented children from backgrounds under-represented in American performing arts.” Students must be between the ages of eight and fourteen and have played their instrument for at least two years. Tuition is on a sliding scale based on family income. Students will receive private lessons from members of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra and the Juilliard faculty at Lincoln Center each Saturday from January through May.

Cosimo was thrilled to have been accepted. Although he plays guitar, alto and tenor saxophone and string bass, the sixth grader is attending classes in guitar at Juilliard. “When I auditioned, I really didn’t think I had a shot,” said Cosimo. “This is such a big opportunity for me. I get to advance in something I really love to do.”

“Cosimo is a very natural musician,” said Don Tighe, SOMS orchestra teacher. “He would flourish anywhere but, Julliard is the optimum place for him.”

Bill Cook, SOMS band teacher, agreed with his colleague. “He’s an unassuming, humble young man with a lot of talent. Even though he already played other instruments, Cosimo approached me to ask if he could also learn the string bass. In addition to Juilliard, he was accepted into the New Jersey Region I Elementary Honors Band as a sax player.”

When asked if he had time for anything else in his busy schedule, which includes many hours of practicing, Cosimo said that he finds time to play tennis and be on a traveling soccer team. He also said although he likes all academics, he likes science best because he wants to be a pediatrician.

“I want to thank my parents, Mr. Tighe, Mr. Cook and my private guitar teacher, Mr. Ray West, for all they have done to help me,” said Cosimo. “I couldn’t have gotten this far without them.” 

Maplewood Middle School seventh grader Christina Jones was also so appreciative of the support from her parents and teachers. “I always dreamt about going to Juilliard and now I’m there,” she said.

Jennifer Dodge, Maplewood Middle School instrumental teacher, said she’s known Christina since fifth grade and “she was always an enthusiastic music student, right from the beginning. She always had that spark and I am so proud of her.”

Christina is currently taking private lessons from Ms. Meta Weiss, through the Juilliard program. Previously, her teacher, for many years, was Naomi Shapiro.

“I practice for about one and a half hours each day and more on weekends,” Christina said. “But I find time to do other things I like as well. I’ve been attending classical dance classes for eight years and I sing and play the cello in church.”

Christina went on to explain that singing in her church choir isn’t exactly what one might expect. She sings in Swedish at the Swedish Seaman’s Church in New York City. “I speak fluent Swedish and spend my summers in Sweden where attend school.”

The Youth Orchestra of Essex County is also on Christina’s extracurricular list along with Girl Scouts. “My friend from South Orange Middle School and I are working on a Silver Award Project in Girl Scouts,” Christina said. “We’re organizing a music group from both middle schools to perform for senior citizens. There’s a missing link in the generations and this will help us all get to know each other better.”

When asked about why she is involved in so many things, the seventh-grader responded, “The more you try, the more opportunities you have. I realized that the more I learn about music, the better I am at other things like dance and math.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.



Maplewood Police Blotter - Stolen Vehicle in Maplewood Recovered by South Orange Police

July 18, 2018

July 11 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime during the early morning hours, a vehicle was stolen from a residence on the 400 block of Richmond Ave. The vehicle was recovered by the South Orange Police Department the same morning.

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

Free 'Movies in the Park' on July 18 and August 23 in Maplewood

July 16, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Free "Movies in the Park" are planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, August 23, a program hosted by the Maplewood Police Department in conjunction with the Maplewood Recreation Department, the Maplewood Office of Cultural Affairs, SOMA Film Festival and SOMA Municipal Alliance.

The movie on July 18 will be The Incredibles, shown in Dehart Park, ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16, until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

River Barge Park & Marina, Carlstadt

Meadowlands Discovery Sunset Eco-Cruise

Green Travel

Fri, July 27, 6:30 PM

Calloway's Restaurant & Bar, Staffordville

Family Promise SOC Fundraiser at Calloway's

Food & Drink Giving Back


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018


We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

Those Boarded-Up Homes in the West Ward? Newark Has a Plan for Them.

July 19, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - The city is using the power of eminent domain to reduce the number of condemned homes and vacant lots scattered throughout the West Ward.

The redevelopment plan for the West Ward was introduced in 2016 and encompasses properties from the border of Irvington to South 13th Street between South Orange Avenue and 16th Avenue. One of the main goals of the plan is to support new ...

Lawmakers Denounce SCOTUS Nomination at Essex County Courthouse

NEWARK, NJ - State Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin said it was important to support local women’s health organizations at a state level should President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee be approved.

The assemblywoman joined state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, congressional leaders and women's rights groups yesterday at the steps of the Essex County Courthouse ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

NJ Residents Take Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Woolley Home Solutions Building Has Unique Historical Stained Glass Window

July 21, 2018

Have you ever spotted this Stained Glass Window on our building? It's compliments of the first Methodist Church in town. The repairman saw our 1924 Autocar Truck parked outside and created this beautiful piece and installed it in our front window. The church was knocked down years ago and its location is now Walgreen's parking lot.

The church was originally built in 1836 when Maplewood ...

New Plumber Joins the Woolley Home Solutions Team

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Woolley team! Our new plumber, Oscar Buonafina, is an expert plumber with nearly a decade of industry experience serving New Jersey homeowners. He is also a NJ Master Plumber Since 2007. As a military veteran, Oscar truly understands hard work and commitment, and we’re so happy to bring him on board!

"I believe in service to people ...

Maplewood Brings Local Youth to the Governing Table With the Youth Advisory Committee

The Maplewood Township Committee cordially invites diverse student residents of Maplewood who are enrolled in private or public school in grades 8 through 12 to apply to serve on its new Youth Advisory Committee.  In order to continue empowering local youth whose recent advocacy on - gun safety, safe schools, voting rights, immigration, greater institutional equity and inclusion, to name a ...