New Jersey Symphony and FIDDLE-AND-FA-LA-LA-FEST to Perform 6/7 at NJPAC

New Jersey Symphony and FIDDLE-AND-FA-LA-LA-FEST to Perform 6/7 at NJPAC

Fiddle-and-Fa-La-La-Fest will bring together students from El Sistema-inspired music-instruction programs across New Jersey for a special performance on Saturday, June 7, at 1 pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.

The student musicians of NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project) will perform with young musicians from the Paterson Music Project, Sister Cities Girlchoir, Sonic Expressions and Union City Music Project. The event uniting multiple El Sistema-inspired programs across the state is the first of its kind, and it is a significant moment for music education in New Jersey, El Sistema expert Tricia Tunstall, author of Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema and the Transformative Power of Music, says.

"This performance is tremendously important for [the student musicians]," Tunstall says. "By coming together like this, they'll get to see that not only are they working in ensembles themselves, honing their skills and finding they are capable of playing beautiful music, but that they are also part of something bigger than just their school-that there are kids everywhere who are learning like this and playing together in this way. It gives them a new identity for themselves-they are going to experience themselves in a tremendous, harmonious ensemble, and there is something very powerful about that."

The students in each program will perform a featured piece with their classmates; for the concert's finale, all programs will combine for a special joint piece-a mash-up of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" arranged by David Rimelis specifically for this event. Eric Booth, senior advisor for El Sistema in the United States and a lauded arts educator and author, will host Fiddle-and-Fa-La-La-Fest.

"The El Sistema model from Venezuela uses musical learning and ensembles in the service of social engagement, social change and change in children and families' lives," Tunstall says. "What is distinctive about it is that it's not about a program about creating musicians; it's a program about creating happy, whole people. Across the world, El Sistema is being seen as a new and promising way to think about social change. In New Jersey, we've had five El Sistema programs start in just the last two years, which is really a testimony to how inspiring this idea is."

Fiddle-and-Fa-La-La-Fest precedes the NJSO's "Meet the Orchestra" family concert. NJSO Education & Community Engagement Conductor Jeffrey Grogan conducts Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, which highlights each section of the orchestra. Family series artist-in-residence Ben Steinfeld, a Broadway veteran and longtime NJSO audience favorite, narrates the Britten work and serves as concert host.

Fiddle-and-Fa-La-La-Fest is free to all ticketholders for the NJSO's June 7 family concert. Concert tickets are $10 for children and $20 for adults, available for purchase online at or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476). View a concert video and find additional information at


NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement & Music Project)

NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project) is an intensive education program inspired by the Venezuelan social change and music education program El Sistema. The program seeks to develop students' goal-directed behavior and skills to foster social and academic success. It also seeks to improve students' self-esteem, academic achievement and lifelong character traits like perseverance and leadership as they learn the intricacies of playing a stringed instrument. In the 2013-14 season, more than 40 UHCS students in grades four through seven are receiving after-school instruction in violin, viola or cello for up to two hours per day, three days per week. Students have performed with the NJSO and Greater Newark Youth Orchestras, at concerts in community settings and at school assemblies.

Paterson Music Project

Based in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Music Project (PMP) is an El Sistema-inspired program that uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. PMP provides an intense musical immersion for 50 third-grade students enrolled at the Community Charter School of Paterson. Students study a primary instrument (violin, cello or viola) and participate in six hours of group music instruction, ensemble practice and private lessons weekly. Students also study music theory, music history, aural training and singing in musicianship classes. Students perform frequently for the school and community. The Paterson Music Project began in January 2013 and is run by the Wharton Music Center/New Jersey Youth Symphony.

Sister Cities Girlchoir

Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG) is an El Sistema-inspired, girl-empowerment choral academy in Camden and Philadelphia. SCG builds communities of music makers that empower girls to occupy their unique advantage in transforming our world. The Girlchoir movement launched in 2012 with the support of Rutgers-Camden University, TED, Opera Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Singers, New England Conservatory and the Kimmel Center's education department, receiving funding support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Townsend Press, Union Benevolent Foundation and the Alfred and Mary Douty Foundation.

Sonic Expressions: sharing sounds of Oakwood

Sonic Expressions is an after-school music program at the Oakwood Avenue Community School in Orange, New Jersey. Beginning in the fall of 2013, the program has provided violin instruction and general musicianship classes to students in kindergarten through second grade. Inspired by the Venezuelan El Sistema program, Sonic Expressions aims to provide free music education within a social context for the youth of the Oakwood Avenue Community School. Through building a network of shared resources, values, aspirations and advocacy, this program seeks to inspire youth, increase academic awareness and move the community-at-large towards a more promising future. The Oakwood Avenue Community School seeks to advance both individuals and the community through the transformational power of music.

Union City Music Project

The Union City Music Project (UCMP) is an El Sistema afterschool program that uses music as a vehicle for social change by providing intensive orchestral and vocal instruction and performance opportunities for urban children in Union City, New Jersey. Through a disciplined, cooperative and fun learning environment that integrates parental involvement, this structured grassroots program inspires academic excellence, enhances life skills and builds community. UCMP was launched in 2012 as the first El Sistema program in the Garden State. It currently serves 62 students ranging from 4-12 years of age by providing them with 24 hours of monthly instruction in violin, cello, percussion, flute, clarinet, voice and music immersion.

THE NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra's superb musicians.

Under the bold leadership of Music Director Jacques Lacombe, the NJSO presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra's statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include the three-ensemble Greater Newark Youth Orchestras, school-time Concerts for Young People performances and multiple initiatives that provide and promote in-school instrumental instruction. The NJSO's Resources for Education and Community Harmony (REACH) chamber music program annually brings original programs-designed and performed by NJSO musicians-to a variety of settings, reaching as many as 17,000 people in nearly all of New Jersey's 21 counties.

For more information about the NJSO, visit or email Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra's website.