Musical Celebration and Tribute to Nikhil Held at Liberty Middle School

Ryan Krewer conducts the Stevie Wonder Medley with the faculty band Credits: Cynthia Cumming
(R)  Austin Bartola, George Austin (F): Christian Gilio-Malobe, Massimo McCormick, Matthew Holland Credits: Cynthia Cumming
 (R) Austin Bartola and George Austin, (F) Alyssa Stone, Christian Gilio-Malobe, Massimo McCormick, Paulo Rojas, Zeke Timen, Brendan Fils, Matthew Holland Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Chima Ogoke, Raven Duke-Livingstone, Diana Johnson, Fabrice Gelen, Felicia Ndumele, Joseph Fletcher, RJ D'Aries Credits: Cynthia Cumming
 Ben Clymer, Angely Melendez, Max Minichiello, Madison Ware, Simone Hilliard, Sanuel Douglas, Joel Etinoff, Jennifer Maciejak, TJ Springer Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Anay Badlani Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange music students, faculty and local musicians showcased their talents at the fifth annual Music for Nikhil Music Celebration and Tribute to Nikhil on June 13 at Liberty Middle School.

The event honored the memory and spirit of Nikhil Badlani, an 11-year old musician and student in West Orange who died in 2011 in a car accident. This year’s event was also dedicated to Mackenzie Fitschen, a 16-year-old West Orange High School student and former classmate of Nikhil’s who passed away in March following a battle with a rare form of cancer.
The event featured performances from over 65 students in grades 6-12 participating in the Music for Nikhil program, which provides lessons from professional musicians and music educators on all instruments at a free or reduced cost. Soloists and small group ensembles performed a diverse range of traditional and contemporary music, from classical arrangements and jazz standards to modern pop songs and funk grooves. Stage management, lighting, and sound were handled by high school and college students who were close friends and associates of Nikhil’s.
Nikhil’s cousins Sreya Chhugani and Ntin Jethmalani hosted the event, entertaining the audience with light-hearted banter in between performances and introducing performances alongside the President of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation and mother of Nikhil, Sangeeta Badlani.

Following student performances, a slideshow was presented in Nikhil’s memory, highlighting the successes and importance of the Music for Nikhil program in helping to spread Nikhil’s passion for music.
The finale of the night came with the performance of a Stevie Wonder Medley by an ensemble of faculty and guest performers, under the direction of Liberty Middle School band director Ryan Krewer. Afterwards, all of the Music for Nikhil students joined the musicians on stage for a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”.
“It keeps getting better and better every year,” said Nikhil’s father, Sunil Badlani. “It’s really amazing to see how the kids have developed musically over the past five years of this program.”
In addition to promoting music education, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation provides scholarships to college-bound seniors and actively works to advocate traffic safety awareness. Last year, the Badlani family worked with local state legislatures to pass Nikhil’s Law, which expands the New Jersey state driver's examination to include a question asking whether the driver is aware of the consequences of failing to adhere to traffic laws, and gives them the option to take the Stop for Nikhil Safety Pledge.
The organization’s hallmark event is the Annual Stop for Nikhil 5K Run/3K Walk, which will be held for its sixth year on September 18 at Suriano Stadium at West Orange High School.
For more information on the Nikhil Badlani foundation and its activities, visit
 (Austin Bartola is a rising senior at West Orange High School participating in the newly-formed Woboe News Team. Look for sports and event coverage from our talented students in the fall.)
All photos courtesy of Mary-Lauri Bartola.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, August 15, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness


Sat, August 25, 2:00 PM

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC), West Orange


Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball Teams Wrap Up (Championship Team Photos Included)

The West Orange PAL Spring Travel Baseball season started with a cold front. Practices began indoors in January with teams practicing two nights a week working on conditioning and baseball fundamentals. Once the snow had melted teams began battling the cold and working outdoors, with three or four practices a week in addition to their games. 

And the hard work and dedication paid off! All ...

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ — All Essex County residents, mayors and councils, law enforcement members, school officials, clergy members, civic organizations and more are invited to join in the next Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss how the Essex County communities can join work together to eradicate this epidemic.

The meeting will be held at the ...

Would Shedding

How much wood wouldn’t a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck woodn’t?


Enough already.  


I get it.  It is an easy mistake to make, misusing would and wouldn’t.  It happens to me all the time.


“Honey, when I said I didn’t see any reason why I would go to the ballet, I meant to say I couldn’t see ...