New Jersey Youth Symphony Jazz Orchestra Among Finalists In Charles Mingus Festival And Competition

By: Jan. 30, 2020
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New Jersey Youth Symphony Jazz Orchestra Among Finalists In Charles Mingus Festival And Competition

The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) announced today that two of its ensembles, the NJYS Jazz Orchestra and Charles Mingus Combo, are among twelve finalist ensembles in the 12th Annual Charles Mingus Festival & High School Competition, February 14-17 at The New School of Jazz and Jazz Standard in New York City.

Organized and presented by Dr. Keller Coker, The New School of Jazz, Sue Mingus, and Let My Children Hear Music/The Charles Mingus Institute, the event showcases dozens of talented high school students from across the United States. This year's finalists, in categories for both big band and combos, will travel to New York City from California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Washington to explore aspects of Mingus's music. On Saturday, February 15, students will participate in instrumental clinics, workshops, lectures, films, and jam sessions at The New School of Jazz's Arnhold Hall at 55 West 13th Street. All events are open to the public. On Sunday, February 16, the public may attend the Mingus Competition: a full day of concert performances in Tishman Auditorium at 63 Fifth Avenue. Outstanding soloists from the Competition will be invited to sit in with the Mingus Big Band, which will perform all weekend at Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street (between Park and Lexington).

"I believe teaching jazz is teaching the history of 20th century American music and culture with all of its complex sociological issues. Its undisputable influence on American popular music and culture of the 20th century is foundational," said Helen H. Cha-Pyo, Music Director of the New Jersey Youth Symphony. "Here at the New Jersey Youth Symphony, we believe in the importance of jazz education and are committed to offering our young musicians exceptional opportunities to learn, experience, and perform jazz at an extremely high level. NJYS wouldn't be complete without a jazz program," said Peter H. Gistelinck, Executive Director of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts.

"This is quite an accomplishment and an honor for our program, especially for the second year of the NJYS Jazz Orchestra," said NJYS Director of Jazz Julius Tolentino. "This festival consistently has the top jazz bands in the country, and I'm excited for our students to be recognized at the national level."

For more information about the New Jersey Youth Symphony jazz program, visit

The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), founded in 1979, is a tiered orchestral program offering ensemble education for students in grades 3-12 across New Jersey. NJYS has grown from one orchestra of 65 students to over 500 students in 15 different orchestras and ensembles, including the internationally recognized Youth Symphony. NJYS ensembles have performed in venues including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Hall, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. NJYS has received numerous prestigious awards for its adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and has had six European tours, including participation in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival and Competition (Vienna), winning First Prizes in July 2014 and 2017.

Now in its 41st season, NJYS continues to achieve musical excellence through intensive instruction and high-level performance. Under the guidance of a talented artistic team of conductors, coaches, and teaching artists, students are immersed in challenging repertoire, learning the art of ensemble playing, and exploring their potential in a supportive and inclusive environment. NJYS remains committed to programming works by diverse composers and will feature 20th century African-American and women composers such as Duke Ellington, George Walker, Yvonne Desportes, Emma Lou Diemer, Julia Perry, and Florence Price this season. Youth Symphony embarks on a concert tour to Italy in the summer of 2020 that includes a world premiere by emerging composer and Jersey City resident Aferdian Stephens.

The New Jersey Youth Symphony is a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. Wharton is New Jersey's largest non-profit performing arts education organization serving over 1,500 students of all ages and abilities through a range of classes and ensembles. In addition to the New Jersey Youth Symphony, programs include the Paterson Music Project, 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 in its hometown of Paterson. Beginning with early childhood music classes for toddlers, the Performing Arts School offers 500 private lessons and group classes each week, ensuring there is something for everyone of all ages and abilities.


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