Morris Township conductor to lead youth symphony at tribute to Bernstein, ‘West Side Story,’ March 6

Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor. Photo courtesy of Susan Peterson.
Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor. Photo courtesy of Susan Peterson.
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From the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts:

Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo of Morris Township will lead the New Jersey Youth Symphony this Friday at West Side Story in Paterson, a gala inspired by Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic movie, which partially was filmed last summer in Paterson.

The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts also will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Jamie Bernstein, whose father, Leonard Bernstein, composed West Side Story’s groundbreaking score.

Jamie Bernstein

“Jamie’s inspiring documentary Crescendo: The Power of Music was instrumental in fueling the growth of El Sistema-inspired programs throughout the country, including our Paterson Music Project,” said Cha-Pyo, artistic director and principal conductor of the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

“I hope everyone joins us for this special evening and experiences the transformative power of the music shared by our young musicians. What they have accomplished is awe-inspiring,” she said.

The Wharton Institute will celebrate its successful, life-changing music education programs on March 6, 2020, at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park.

Jennifer and David S. Stone serve as Honorary Chairs of the event, which features performances by students from the Paterson Music Project and the Performing Arts School, in addition to the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

Paterson is the home of the Wharton Institute’s Paterson Music Project. The evening also will feature a welcome by Paterson Mayor André Sayegh.

Author, narrator, and filmmaker Jamie Bernstein has transformed a lifetime of loving music into a career of sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Guests will receive a copy of her memoir, Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein.

Published by HarperCollins in 2018, the book gives a captivating perspective on growing up as a child of the world-acclaimed composer and conductor. An award-winning film director, Jamie also writes articles and poetry that have appeared in a variety of publications from Opera News to Town & Country.

Her award-winning film documentary, Crescendo: the Power of Music, follows children in West Philadelphia and Harlem participating in youth orchestras inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, a program that uses music to transform the lives of children in under-served communities.

“I’m honored to be part of this grand celebration of music education with the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts,” Jamie Bernstein said. “I know my father would have been thrilled to see the impact of programs such as the Paterson Music Project and the New Jersey Youth Symphony.”

“The show West Side Story illustrates what happens as a result of the failure to integrate and empower young people in a constructive way,” explained Peter H. Gistelinck, executive director of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts.

“Our mission is to reverse that failure by providing the highest quality performing arts education to students in a very supportive and inclusive environment and we make a huge difference in the communities we serve.”

Located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is New Jersey’s largest independent nonprofit community arts education organization, serving more than 1,500 students.

The 15-ensemble New Jersey Youth Symphony performs throughout Northern New Jersey with a season that offers more than three dozen public concerts.

The Paterson Music Project provides after-school and weekend experiences for youngsters in the state’s second largest school district through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. This remarkable program not only brings respect and pride to Paterson, it is building self-confidence and fostering academic success for participating student musicians.

For more information and to support the Wharton Institute by celebrating West Side Story in Paterson, go to www.whartonartsgala.org. Tickets for this event are $250.

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