NYYS and NJYS Launch Artist Stories Series Featuring Carmen Ruby Floyd, Kelly Hall-Tompkins and More

By: Jul. 02, 2020
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NYYS and NJYS Launch Artist Stories Series Featuring Carmen Ruby Floyd, Kelly Hall-Tompkins and More

The New York Youth Symphony (NYYS), and the New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, announced today that they will co-host an Artist Stories Series, a series of weekly one-hour virtual conversations exploring the importance of equity, inclusion, and representation in the classical music, jazz, and Broadway world.

Featured guest speakers include Toyin Spellman-Diaz, Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Jeff Scott, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Sean C. Jones, and Weston Sprott discussing what it means to navigate a professional music career. In addition to the sharing of personal experiences, the artists will have the opportunity to impart their insights into needed actions to reinforce accountability and pursue responsive outcomes in American orchestras, music education, and the music industry. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for the artists in advance, to be answered during a Q&A portion of each session. The six-week webinar series is free and open to the public.

"New York Youth Symphony is proud to partner with the New Jersey Youth Symphony on the Artist Stories Series," said Shauna Quill, Executive Director of the New York Youth Symphony. "Both of our organizations are committed to diversifying the voices in music, and that begins by listening to the artists currently in the field. Through their stories and continued conversations, our communities will be able to learn and grow."

"When we truly listen to understand, we learn something new. Through the Artist Stories Series, we desire to create a space where young people can listen to and learn from these remarkable artists and their stories," said Helen H. Cha-Pyo, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts.

The first event will take place on Wednesday, July 8 and will feature oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, an original member of Imani Winds and hailed by the Washington Post for her "smooth, controlled tone and excellent technique." Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Kelly Hall-Tompkins will appear on July 15. French horn player and Montclair State University faculty member Jeff Scott will follow on July 22; Broadway and television star Carmen Ruby Floyd on July 29; and Sean C. Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz at John Hopkins University's Peabody Institute in Baltimore, on August 5. The series will conclude on August 12 with Weston Sprott, trombonist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Dean of the Preparatory Division at The Juilliard School where he leads Juilliard Pre-College and the Music Advancement Program.

Each weekly webinar will be hosted on Zoom and livestreamed via YouTube on Wednesday evenings, July 8-August 12, from 7-8pm EST. Zoom login is available at www.NJYS.org and www.nyys.org. Attendees may submit their questions online. For more information, call (908) 771-5544 or email info@njys.org.

"Especially in these challenging times, it is more than essential to open our minds and create a safe space for learning on all levels," said Peter H. Gistelinck, Executive Director of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. "Collaborating with fellow institutions like the New York Youth Symphony for this Artist Stories Series is a vital part of this ongoing endeavor."