Paterson Music Project
“I’ve watched and enjoyed some of your Friday Webinars at Wharton Arts–such a wonderful range of topics to inspire students, professionals, and general audiences. Thank you for curating and presenting these talks.” ~ Garrett Fischbach, MET Orchestra
An Interview with New Jersey Youth Symphony Assistant Manager of Orchestras Alyssa Horne
Friday Webinars at Wharton Arts is an hour-long weekly program where artists of different disciplines make authentic connections between art and life through sharing their stories, expertise, and creations. Curated and hosted by Artistic Director Helen H. Cha-Pyo, we sat down with Assistant Manager of Orchestras Alyssa Horne to discuss the new series.
Q: What was the inspiration for this webinar series?
A: Wharton’s 2020-21 season has definitely required creativity! In light of the pandemic, it was our hope that we could offer as many robust musical and educational experiences for our students as possible. Here are some thoughts from Artistic Director Helen H. Cha-Pyo on the inspiration for curating this webinar series:
“When the reality of life under COVID-19 inevitably set in, I began working on creating a hybrid scenario for our programs. The most difficult aspect of engaging students online in a meaningful way is the inability to facilitate large ensemble rehearsals and concerts, which is the main focus of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. This devastating disruption for in-person music-making developed into an opportunity for us to engage with our young musicians in a new and unique way. I wanted to maximize this opportunity and introduce our Wharton Arts students to a wide range of disciplines in the field of music, as well as professional musicians who are currently thriving in their fields—musicians who are role models to our students.
I believe life is art, and art is life. If what we do as musicians and artists has no genuine connection to the life we live, it is meaningless. By the same token, we as musicians should be compelled to find that connection each and every day. With this thought, I wanted to curate a series of webinars that would feature artists of different disciplines making authentic connections between art and life through the sharing of their stories, expertise, and creations.”
“Although I have never studied or played jazz, Julius Tolentino’s 5 steps to learning a tune gave me some ideas on how I might approach solo Bach differently.” ~ Garrett Fischbach, MET Orchestra
Q: How were the guest artists chosen?
A: Maestro Cha-Pyo reached out to various artists to create a unique and meaningful webinar series for our community. Her thoughts on selecting the artists:
“The silver lining throughout this entire situation is the fact that I can invite artists to present a webinar no matter where they are in the world. Our guest artists hail from more than ten states across the U.S., from Hawaii to Massachusetts! Normally, we could not dream of having these artists travel to New Jersey to be with us in-person. As stated before, my hope for this series was to introduce role models to our students, not only from an artistic standpoint but from a human perspective as well. I have been blessed to work with so many fantastic artists who are incredible human beings, and when this opportunity arose, I was thrilled to reach out to many of these colleagues who were happy and enthusiastic to share their expertise and experiences with our students.
Since many of our young people may not fully understand the variety of professions within the world of performing arts and music education, I called on a wide array of professionals in the music world, including performers, composers, educators, conductors, entrepreneurs, performance psychologists, choreographers, opera directors, librettists, arts administrators, and more.”
“It will be interesting to see how your collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs audience–interactive technology unfolds. His Life Lessons To My Younger Self seem valuable for someone at any age.” ~ Webinar Audience Member
Q: How do the webinars fit into the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s curriculum this year? I understand that NJYS students receive credit for attending?
A: The Friday Webinars at Wharton Arts are a part of our online course offerings for the fall semester. NJYS students can receive 1-2 credits for each webinar, depending on the length of the event. In addition to the webinars, we offer master classes and musicianship courses including sight-reading, ear training, music theory, rhythm workshops, and technique classes. All of these courses were designed this season to supplement virtual rehearsals and give our students as many engaging musical opportunities as possible, albeit online.
“When did you both become interested in the type of instruments you’re playing? Why did the director make the specific decision to place the percussion into a small studio instead of, for example, behind the stage or in a bigger room? Also, doesn’t it feel cramped to be in such a small room?” ~ Questions from Dr. Mesia Austin and Grant Braddocks’ webinar on the Broadway show Caroline, or Change
Q: So far, which webinar did you enjoy the most or left a lasting impact?
A: I have enjoyed all of the webinars! Each has been unique and engaging in its own right, and as a lifelong learner myself, I’ve enjoyed all of the various informative talks and presentations from the guest artists. I will say I felt a particular connection to Dr. Mesia Austin and Grant Braddock’s talk about Caroline, or Change, as they discussed the perspectives of a pit musician and percussionist for a Broadway musical. As a performer (pre-pandemic), I often freelance as a keyboard player for theater pit orchestras so I definitely related to the topic, although I don’t have to use as much equipment!
I also have to mention how much I enjoyed This Little Light of Mine: The Story of Fannie Lou Hamer from the Santa Fe Opera Project–this is such a profound artistic piece! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Ms. Hamer’s story, and I am so glad to have experienced this incredibly enlightening talk as well as the inspiring performance of the opera!
“People say engineers “lose” their creativity by being so strictly logical. Do you agree with this? Personally, I enjoy music and handicrafts but also really want to be an engineer. How can people who plan on studying/going into STEM keep this human-centered part and artistic creativity throughout their work and not be so pigeon-holed like you mentioned? In the way that you mentioned that technology has pushed humans further from ‘what makes them human,’ has technology had any negative effects on art by pushing it farther from its roots?” ~ Questions from Domnhaill Hernon’s webinar (Hernon is Director of Experiments in Arts and Technology, Nokia Bell Labs)
Friday Webinars at Wharton Arts take place weekly from 7:00-8:00 p.m. EST through December 11. Viewing for this online series is free at WhartonArts.tv. For more information, call (908) 771-5544 or email email@example.com.
An Interview with New Jersey Youth Symphony Manager of Orchestras Stacy Square
The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, announced in September that it would open the 2020-21 season with new and compelling online education programs, including 15 master classes and 12 webinars with world-renowned guest artists and educators. With a hybrid schedule of both online and socially distant outdoor rehearsals, students also currently participate in over 30 online classes weekly ranging from music theory, composition, and ear training to jazz history, video editing, how to improve sight-reading skills, and fiddling in an unprecedented elevation of both the quantity and breadth of the program’s educational programming.
Following the U.S. Youth Orchestras eFestival on September 20 with fellow programs from Chicago, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Texas, live performances at venues around the state of New Jersey were replaced with a digital format that has opened new doors of artistic collaborations for the New Jersey Youth Symphony, now in its 42nd season.
The Monday Master Class Series imbues the essence of the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s originally scheduled season, including artists, genres, and diversity, and offers its students a rare touchpoint with professional symphony orchestra musicians and leaders in today’s world of performing arts education. The digital series, expanding the limits of what would have been possible to present in person due to the cost and logistics, features a wide variety of acclaimed instrumentalists. The series kicked off on September 14 with newly appointed Oberlin Conservatory faculty member and French hornist Jeffrey Scott and includes Cleveland Orchestra Principal Clarinet Afendi Yusuf, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Principal Bass Ha Young Jung, and Seattle Symphony Principal Flute Demarre McGill, as well as instructors from The Juilliard School, University of Massachusetts, and Jazz at Lincoln Center.
New Jersey Youth Symphony Manager of Orchestras Stacy Square took time out of her busy schedule coordinating educational and concert programming to tell us more about the series.
Q: What was the original inspiration for the Monday Master Class Series?
A: It was clear that the start of this season would require some adjustments after our last season ended fully virtual due to the pandemic. Over a hectic summer of strategic planning, our Artistic Director Helen H. Cha-Pyo assembled a hybrid plan for the NJYS community. The hybrid program included master classes, webinars, online courses, and our #StayHomeandPlay project.
Maestro Cha-Pyo’s vision for the new season has been one of hope and perseverance, and of course her motto, “creative solutions.” Witnessing our summer online programs reaching students and patrons across the nation made it clear that we had discovered an unexpected opportunity to engage a wider community of music lovers. The Monday Master Class Series is meant to be enjoyed not only by our students but also by anyone who loves music and wants to understand a little more about different instruments.
A little on the initiative’s inspiration from Cha-Pyo, “Music is a life-long pursuit because there is no end to learning. You may be able to play a Mozart concerto very well at the age of 16, but when you revisit the piece 5 years later, you realize what you thought you knew back then is only the tip of the iceberg. Music humbles you as you get older but also teaches you so much about life and who you are as a person. These master teachers are experts on their instruments and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Perhaps even more importantly, they have wisdom that can only come from years of experience, and that’s what I hope our young musicians will look forward to gain at these master classes–pearls of wisdom on music and life!”
Q: How were the guest artists chosen?
A: Maestro Cha-Pyo connected with artists far and wide to join us. Here she shares a bit about her selection process: “One of the silver linings during this difficult time is the fact that I can engage master teachers from across America and abroad as everything is online. World-class artists who would normally be unable to travel to New Jersey to teach an hour class are now just a zoom link away. I reached out to top performers who are also dynamic teachers and pedagogues—principal players of major orchestras and conservatory professors spanning from South Korea to Seattle to New York. Our NJYS musicians are extremely lucky!”
Q: How do the master classes fit into the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s curriculum this year? I understand students get credit for attending.
A: The Monday Master Class Series complements our virtual rehearsals. In order to ensure students take advantage of all we are offering, we structured the semester similar to that of a pre-college program. The students must fulfill a number of required credits. We felt the credit system would guarantee that we were doing all we could to give the students a full musical experience during a challenging time.
Q: What has the students’ reactions been to the master classes? Do you have any comments or questions they have asked to share?
A: The Monday Master Class Series has been very well attended, and our viewers seem to thoroughly enjoy them. This is the first time we have been able to offer a series like this, and many families are excited to have us in their homes on Monday evenings over Zoom.
“Where is the link?” is the most frequent question I field. Anyone is welcome to join us by signing up on our website. For NJYS families, we have special links to help us keep track of attendance in our Member Portal.
Q: So far, which master class did you enjoy the most? Has one class stood out as leaving a lasting impact?
A: I have absolutely loved all of them! This is a rare chance to explore so many different instruments in one series. I have learned more about phrasing, understanding what the composer was trying to express through the music, and going back to basics with technique than I thought possible. Along with the students, I’ve also learned about air support and use of air, how tricky oboe reeds can be, and even how close a trumpeter’s lips should be with a close-up camera view! Each master teacher has shared a world of experience with us, and their tips, tricks, and advice applies to all instruments.
Q: Of the remaining master classes, which one are you most looking forward to attending?
A: I am thrilled to continue learning alongside our students! I look forward to all the upcoming classes, from Jazz trombone to flute. I think the one that I am most excited about is the percussion master class on Sunday, November 22. I play the violin, so I have not spent too much time in the percussion section—but I am excited to see what Pablo Rieppi has in store for us.
The percussion master class is the only class airing on a Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., but I hope to see everyone there!
The Monday Master Class Series takes place weekly from 7:00-8:15 p.m. EST through December 14. Viewing for this online series is free via Zoom. For more information, call (908) 771-5544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.