NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ —The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) kicks off its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Helen Cha-Pyo on Saturday, October 27 at 8:00 p.m. at Alexander Kasser Theater located at 1 Normal Avenue in Montclair. In addition to Shostakovich Festive Overture, works to be performed include Prokofiev Symphony No. 5, Corigliano Phantasmagoria on The Ghosts of Versailles for Orchestra, and Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. Tickets are $15 and available online at or by calling 973-655-5112.

Says Cha-Pyo, “My vision for the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s 40th Anniversary is promoting the already well-developed musical excellence of our students—encouraging them to shine far and wide on varied stages and bring their talents to new audiences.” In addition to Montclair State University’s Kasser Theater, NJYS ensembles will grace stages this season including the Union County Performing Arts Center, the State Theater in New Brunswick, Dolan Hall at the College of St. Elizabeth, Drew University, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

With 105 of the highest level musicians from 40 different high schools in New Jersey, the NJYS Youth Symphony regularly explores adventurous programming, juxtaposing old and new works and making musical connections meant to resonate with both the audience as well as the young musicians. Youth Symphony has appeared at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, the Musikverein in Vienna, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and will perform side-by-side with the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra on October 27. Made up of collegiate and young professional level musicians, performing with the MSU Symphony Orchestra will give the NJYS musicians a taste of the next level in artistic eminence.

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Conductor Helen Cha-Pyo, appointed Artistic Director in July 2018 of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) encompassing all 15 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, is an accomplished conductor and educator and former Music Director of the Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO) in New York’s Capital District. For 16 years, Cha-Pyo inspired hundreds of young musicians to perform at the highest levels, resulting in ESYO being recognized as one of the nation’s premier music organizations for youth. From 1996 to 2002, she served as artistic director and conductor of the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and associate director of music at The Riverside Church in New York City. A committed music educator, she pioneered the Riverside Music Educational Program which served thousands of New York City public school children and is a frequent guest conductor and clinician for All-State and regional festival orchestras throughout the country and is a conductor at the Kinhaven Music School in Weston Vermont in the summer. This season, she will appear as guest conductor and clinician for the Nebraska All-State Festival Orchestra, ASTA National Orchestra Festival, Newport Youth Orchestra Festival (OR) and NJ ASTA String Orchestra Festival. She is currently serving as the Visiting Associate Professor of Orchestral Studies and Conductor of Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra at John J. Cali School of Music (NJ). 

In a nod to the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s ruby anniversary and her first season as WIPA Artistic Director and Conductor of Youth Symphony, Cha-Pyo chose a unique spin on the usual celebrations—in addition to a gala, which will be held at NJPAC on May 19, Cha-Pyo introduced the idea of partnering with social services in the communities where NJYS will perform throughout the season. While brainstorming one day with WIPA Assistant Director of Foundation and Government Relations Elizabeth Piercey, Cha-Pyo tossed around the idea of having students and audience members bring donated items to every performance. Piercey and WIPA Director of Development Pamela Palumbo began researching social service agencies nearby each concert in order to help those communities and reached out to the organizations to see if they’d like to partner with NJYS. As it turns out, every single agency was on board.

For the October 27 season opener at Kasser Theater, NJYS will partner with Montclair’s Toni’s Kitchen, using backpacks to provide food to families in need. Each backpack contains healthy food and snacks and audience members are invited to donate the following items at the concert: peanut butter, pasta, tuna, pasta sauce, oatmeal, healthy cereal, rice, beans, snack bars, and raisins (no glass please). Other social services partners include Elizabeth’s St. Joseph’s Social Service Center, Morris Plain’s Interfaith Food Pantry and Resource Center, Morristown’s Homeless Solutions, Inc., and Morristown’s Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center, Inc. For a full list of the NJYS 2018-2019 season concerts and social services partners, as well as ways to give back at each concert, go to

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 education center serving over 1,500 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 15 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, which serve 500 students in grades 3 – 12 by audition. Beginning with Out of the Box Music and Pathways classes for young children, 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 theater program.

Based in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Music Project (PMP) is an El Sistema-inspired program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. PMP provides intensive, free musical training to students throughout Paterson after school. PMP launched its first site at the Community Charter School (CCSP) of Paterson in January 2013 with 32 second graders and has since added a new class of students each year. Since its inception, PMP has partnered with the Paterson Public Schools to open the Paterson Public School 1 and 26 site as well as the CCSP 21st Century Community Learning Center Program to start a winds and brass middle school program. Last year, PMP partnered with William Paterson University’s Music After School Program to create a central band site at the Norman S. Weir School to serve over 60 students. This year, Paterson Music Project will be partnering with the Rosa Parks Performing Arts High School in Paterson to host the PMP Saturday Program which includes large ensemble rehearsal, Community Choir, Afro-Fusion Percussion Ensemble, and private lessons. There are now over 250 students in the program across the city of Paterson grades 1-8.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 10 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.