Performing Arts School
On Monday evening, Wharton recognized 15 graduating seniors for Senior Night at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Eight students performed for the event: Katherine Buchan of Summit, who has been studying flute at PAS for 13 years and will attend Carnegie Mellon University; Bridget Lynn of Berkeley Heights, who has been studying voice at PAS for 7 years and will attend New York University Tisch School of the Arts; Andres Marquez of Millington, who has been studying piano at PAS for 5 years and will attend Northeastern University; Megan Pan of New Providence, who has been studying voice at PAS for 5 years and will attend Princeton University; Carter Rosen of Long Hill, who has been studying violin at PAS for 11 years and will attend Stevens Institute of Technology; Shruti Sagar of New Providence, who has been studying piano at PAS for 11 years and will attend Tufts University; Sanjay Subramanian of Warren, who has been studying alto saxophone at PAS for 3 years and will attend the University of Maryland; and Victoria Zhou of Berkeley Heights, who has been studying flute at PAS for 5 years and will attend Princeton University.
Seven seniors were unable to attend the event: Julia Baldacchino, cello, of Summit will attend The College of New Jersey; Sarah Lalevee, guitar, of Berkeley Heights will attend Georgetown University; Annamaria Newmark, violin, of Warren will attend Lithuanian State University for Health Sciences; Michael Raman, piano, of Millington will attend Georgia Tech; Matthew Shih, violin, of Scotch Plains will attend Princeton University; Theo Stephen, clarinet, of Summit will attend George Washington University; and Nika Zaslavsky, violin, of New Providence will attend Carnegie Mellon University.
Says Student Services Manager Kristen Wuest, who organized the event, “As an alumna of the organization, I think it is important to recognize the commitment and dedication the seniors have demonstrated through the years. I can only hope they will come back to visit the Performing Arts School!”
Wharton’s Performing Arts School has a thriving adult division as can be seen in the inaugural concert for the Small Ensembles program. Small Ensembles is a 15-week course for students of all ages, instruments, and abilities. After a placement audition in January, students began rehearsals and coachings with Performing Arts School faculty members Christine Ciuffreda, Joe DeVico, Laura George, Sean Hack, Alice Hamlet, Lyubov Vasilyeva, and Kristen Wuest.
Says adult student Robert Bohrer, “I’ve been taking piano lessons at Wharton for four years—now I’m an old beginner! I signed up for Small Ensembles for the opportunity to play with other musicians. The experience is very different from playing solo. You have to listen to others as well as to your own playing.”
Adds Bohrer, “I have very much enjoyed playing piano with my ensemble partner, Gail Bayse, on cello. And I thank our coaches, Alice Hamlet and Luba Vasilyeva, for their patient and helpful instruction.”
Says Bayse, “I have been studying cello for over five years at Wharton. I was intrigued when I heard students had the opportunity to participate in a small ensembles program with faculty guidance. It has been wonderful to get to know Robert, my ensemble partner, as well as become aware of what playing a piano involves. It’s a great way to broaden my appreciation for the time and effort is required to play our five-minute second movement of a Vivaldi Sonata.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) presents a concert featuring students in its Small Ensembles program on Saturday, May 5 at 3:00 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. Performances by Lily Liu, percussion, Matthew Higgins, piano, and Andrew Furst, trumpet; Maggie Liu, flute, Elizabeth Eck, cello, and Marcello Silva, piano; the adult flute ensemble; and Gail Bayse, cello and Robert Bohrer, piano include works by Miles Davis, Gurlitt, Vivaldi, and original works by the students. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Wharton Performing Arts School in Berkeley Heights presented a day of recitals by students of all ages and instruments on Sunday, February 4 where 35 students performing flute, piano, violin, cello, guitar, saxophone, musical theater, and voice had the chance to delight an audience of close to a hundred enthusiastic listeners in four concerts throughout the day. Plainfield resident Gail Bayse, who has studied cello at the Performing Arts School for five years, performed on three of the four Super Recital Sunday concerts. Bayse was introduced to the cello in grade school and went on to complete an undergraduate degree in vocal music education. She taught K-12 vocal music for two years, but always regrets the day that she gave up the cello. She didn’t realize there was a venue for adult music studies.
Fast forward to almost six years ago when Bayse was awarded a ten-year tenure bonus from the company she worked for at the time, and after having a conversation with a Berkeley Heights resident and friend who suggested she look into adult study at Wharton, she used the bonus to rent a cello and sign up for a year of private lessons at the Performing Arts School. Today, Bayse works at a Japanese bank in New York City as an Internal Information Technology Auditor, assuring the confidentiality, integrity, availability of her company’s systems and data.
Says Bayse, “As you might imagine, the audit profession is fairly routine and does not encourage creativity. Cello is my escape from the mundane. As an adult, it is the one part of my life that I do for me. No one pays me to do it; no one depends on me to do it; I do not get graded on it; no one demands that I get in my practice time. It is literally and figuratively my “play” time. I commute on average four hours a day to get to work. Between my commute, my work life, and my responsibilities at home, I tuck in as much practice time as I can. This is often late night and it is quite relaxing. Saturday and Sunday mornings, before weekly errands, are also “cello-time.” I loved Super Recital Sunday. We do not often get to hear other areas of study that Wharton offers—I can’t remember the last time I heard a saxophone soloist or a budding vocalist accompanying himself. It was very encouraging.”
Adds Bayse, “Super Recital Sunday was also scheduled the week before our winter cello recital. I was able to play multiple times and am hopeful that it tames my performance jitters for the upcoming recital!”
For more information about all of the Performing Arts School’s programs, visit call 908-790-0700.
Meet pianist and Chatham resident, Darren Yen, 17, who has been awarded the Grand Prix prize at the 2018 Rising Talents Festival for the third consecutive year. A junior at Chatham High School, Darren has studied piano for 7 years at the Wharton Performing Arts School, during which time has received numerous tops prizes including the Music Educators Association of New Jersey Competition, Golden Key Festival, Russian Music Festival, Rising Talents Festival, Crescendo International Music Competion, Little Mozarts Competition, and Prima Volta Music Competition.
Although Darren also plays flute and has studied music theory at Wharton’s Performing Arts School, his true passion is the piano. He rarely misses a day of practice, usually putting in between one to two hours at the instrument seven days a week. He recently performed Franz Liszt’s Rigoletto Paraphase, a transcription of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto at the 2018 “Making Music Count” Gala on February 23 which raised nearly $130,000 towards performing arts education for the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts.
Says Darren, “The Liszt piece I performed was not only very technically demanding, like most Liszt pieces, but it was also a fairly emotionally demanding piece as well. Lots of attention had to be paid to the voicing and overall flow of the piece. I truly enjoy how different Rigoletto is from most other Liszt compositions—mainly because this is a paraphrase on a piece by Verdi. This piece effectively captures the composing style of not only Liszt but also Verdi as well.”
Darren’s favorite subject in school in mathematics and he hopes to continue studying math in the future, as well continuing to play the piano.
“I truly enjoy playing the piano because I find it to be my greatest medium of expression. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t return to the piano,” says Darren. “I really enjoy the atmosphere at Wharton. Everyone shares a profound love for music that enriches the musical abilities of the students enrolled in Wharton’s music programs.”
Darren’s piano teacher, Wharton faculty member Anna Vozhik, has been teaching at the Performing Arts School for 15 years. Says Vozhik, “Darren showed a keen interest from his first piano lesson. He has never come to class unprepared in the nearly eight years that he has been my student. Demanding and persistent in the best way possible, he has grown into a mature musician before my eyes with an impressive repertoire, including works by J.S. Bach, Brahms, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Ravel, Poulenc, and of course Liszt.”
Continues Vozhik, “Darren is always focused and a great listener. During our lessons we discuss how to best perform a piece of music, and Darren loves to research works he is playing. I often wonder where he finds the time for all his accomplishments. Exceptionally organized and goal-oriented, he’s held numerous performances in Carnegie and other prestigious concert halls of New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey. Darren is a beautiful soul, and a pleasure to teach.”
Not only Darren but also his two siblings, Preston, 15, and Natalie, 11, study piano with Vozhik at Wharton. Says their mother, Janet Li, “There were two music schools around our area, one of which was Wharton. We felt that Wharton had more teachers, offered more music courses, and a more complete structure than the other music school. We know we made the right choice! The school is wonderful and the teachers are amazing. Anna Vozhik is truly an excellent and amazing teacher. She is strict and patient which works very well with my kids. We love her dearly!”
Over the past few months, students in the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) Musical Theater Company have been writing their own full length musical using stories from the Grimm Brothers to be showcased in two performances on June 9 in Wharton’s black box theatre. With the help of instructors Timothy Maureen Cole and David Seamon, the cast is using fairy tales to create an original story, script, and songs.
The Musical Theater Company is a 27-week course where students ages 10-15 explore storytelling through acting, singing, and movement. This year marks the Company’s third season and first endeavor in writing their own musical from start to finish.
Says Musical Theater Arts Director Timothy Maureen Cole, “It has been very rewarding for everyone involved to go through the creative process of writing a musical. At the beginning of the course, it was obivous that students were a little shy to give input about the story’s plotline or what a melody should sound like for a new song in class. Many weeks later and those same students are excited to share opinions and have them reflected in our story!”
Adds Cole, “Most students are accustomed to being given a role and memorizing a script, but this class is so much more. The students are learning to work together to create something brand new. At the end of the process, they can look at this show and say ‘I made that.’ It’s incredible.”
Timothy Maureen Cole holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Ithaca College, and has been teaching voice, music theater, and piano since 2007. She holds certification in Early Childhood Music Education from Kindermusik International, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to private and group instruction, Cole has collegiate teaching experience at Horry Georgetown Technical College and James Madison University. She has extensive performance experience in classical and musical theater repertoire. Recent productions include La Boheme (Mimi), Le Nozze Di Figaro (Countess), Wilde’s Wild West (Frenchie), Aics and Galatea (Damon), Elixir of Love (Adina), Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, and Scarlatti’s La Giuditta (Giuditta). Favorite Music Theater performances include: Kiss Me Kate (Kate), Anything Goes (Reno), You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Sally), Once Upon A Mattress, and My Favorite Year.
The Company show takes place on Saturday, June 9 at 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights. Tickets are $10, available at the door or by calling 908-790-0700.