Performing Arts School
Paterson Music Project Blog: Voices of the Silk City by Elizabeth Moulthrop | November 2019
The Paterson Music Project (PMP) is a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that empowers children to achieve their full potential through the joyful pursuit of musical excellence. Inspired by the global El Sistema movement, PMP uses music education as a vehicle for social change in its home city of Paterson.
This season, chamber music is alive and well at PMP—and growing by leaps and bounds. In addition to choir, orchestra, band, and percussion ensembles, students at the Paterson Music Project have the opportunity to participate in this centuries-old art form of small ensemble music making, and the PMP String Quartet is taking off and headed places. Although Wharton Arts strives to give the gift of music education to these students in Paterson, the true gift is what we all receive when these students come together and play from their hearts. Read on to find out more…
Did you know that the Paterson Music Project has a string quartet that performs at over 20 events per year? Well, sometimes it’s a quartet…sometimes it’s a septet! There are alternates on most of the parts, so if someone can’t attend an event, there is a backup performer. The players meet on a weekly basis to learn new repertoire and practice for performances. They usually walk from school to the PMP office together and practice for 1-2 hours with their coach, Ms. Shanna. They also sometimes practice on Saturdays. Ms. Shanna has been coaching the group for the past three years and volunteers her time to make it happen.
Meet the members: Hector, Akeira, Haley, Geanelly, Rachael, Aleric, and Eddie. They are all in grades 6-9 and have been with PMP for at least 4 years. All the musicians in the quartet take private lessons at PMP through the Honors Program. They are also all members of the Montclair State University Extension Division Saturday Program. There are even two sets of siblings within the group. They have a lot of fun when they get together!
This fall alone, the group has eight concerts! They are performing sometimes as often as once a week. This is in addition to regularly scheduled PMP concerts with the larger PMP Concert Orchestra. Recent events include performing at the Paterson State of the City Address by the Mayor, Habitat for Humanity’s Taste of Paterson event, and the Paterson MLK Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
You can catch the quartet next at the New Jersey Youth Symphony Chamber Music Concert on November 17 at 7pm at the Chatham United Methodist Church.
PMP is an El Sistema-inspired Program. What is El Sistema, anyway?
El Sistema is a visionary global movement that transforms the lives of children through music. Founded in Venezuela in 1975, El Sistema is a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the lives of hundreds of thousands of children throughout the world. The Venezuelan model of using music as a vehicle for social change has been adopted across the world. El Sistema programs create access to high quality music education through local and affordable (usually free) programs. Students learn from specialized Teaching Artists, perform frequently, and the programs are deeply embedded in the greater community. Paterson Music project is a member of El Sistema USA and the El Sistema NJ Alliance.
The Paterson Music Project provides tuition-free musical training to students throughout Paterson after school. Students study a primary instrument and participate in ensemble practice and instrumental sectionals. They receive an average of 6 hours of instruction per week and in addition, may participate in an optional private lesson program. Students perform frequently for the community and perform an average of 30 events annually.
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 programming to students at Paterson Public Schools 1, 24, and 26. PMP has also 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. There are now over 250 students in the program across the city of Paterson grades 2-9. PMP also runs a Saturday program at the Rosa Parks Fine and Performing Arts High School in Paterson.
To attend a Paterson Music Project concert, make a donation, or become a volunteer, contact PMP Director Elizabeth Moulthrop at email@example.com.
Giving Tuesday and three things you didn’t know about Development with Elizabeth Piercey, Director of Development
Wharton Arts has a new Director of Development: Elizabeth Piercey stepped into the position after three years as the organization’s grant writer, managing all grant proposals to foundations, corporations, and government agencies. Under Piercey’s stewardship, Wharton Arts has experienced significant advancement towards garnering support for its programs, including a 115% increase in grant revenue in her first year—highlights include major gifts for the Paterson Music Project’s tuition-free after-school programming from the National Endowment for the Arts and Impact 100 Garden State. This year Wharton Arts also received a Catalyst Fund Grant from the League of American Orchestras to support its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives.
Q: What are the main functions of the Development office?
A: The Development office is responsible for raising contributed income for the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Paterson Music Project, and Performing Arts School. Tuition and fees only covers 70% of the cost of classes, ensembles, concerts, and other programs. Therefore, we fundraise to make our programs possible. This year, our goal is to raise $1.163 million.
Q: Wow! That’s quite an impressive figure. To that end, what are the big events or projects happening in Development this year?
A: Our special events are a particularly important component to reaching our fundraising goal! These include:
- West Side Story in Paterson Gala Friday, March 6 at Westmount Country Club
- Playathon Sunday, March 29 at The Mills at Jersey Gardens
- Mother’s Day 5K Sunday, May 10 at Memorial Field in Berkeley Heights
Q: Is there anything new happening in Development that is a departure from previous years?
A: Our gala is going to be really exciting this year. The theme is “West Side Story in Paterson” in response to Steven Spielberg’s re-release of the classic film, which was filmed in Paterson—the home, of course, of our Paterson Music Project. In addition, the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Jamie Bernstein, the daughter of Leonard Bernstein who composed the music for West Side Story.
Q: And last but not least, Giving Tuesday is just around the corner! What does Wharton Arts hope to accomplish this year? (For those of you who may not know, Giving Tuesday is a global movement of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Celebrated every year on the Tuesday following U.S. Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is fueled by the power of social media and the hashtag #GivingTuesday.)
A: This year for Giving Tuesday we’re raising funds for Wharton Players, Paterson Music Project, and the New Jersey Youth Symphony Playathon. Look for our social media posts—we hope to raise $3,000!
To make a donation to the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and its programs, CLICK HERE.
Elizabeth Piercey has been on the Development team of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts since 2016. She is an arts administrator with over ten years of experience in supporting fund development in non-profit arts and social service organizations. Piercey graduated from Drexel University with a master’s in Arts Administration.