Discovery Orchestra


50 Mt. Bethel Road
P.O. Box 4064
Warren, NJ 07059
County: Somerset


Ms. Virginia Johnston

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

To produce live and electronic media programs presented in accessible and entertaining formats to teach music listening skills. We reach a wide range of audience members -- from classical music novices to experienced concert-goers, ages 8 to people in their 90's. Our work includes Discovery Concerts in northern and central New Jersey, outreach programs to underserved NJ youth, national public television shows, instructional online videos, and distribution to the higher-ed and home video markets.

Organization Background

The Discovery Orchestra teaches listening skills that help people emotionally connect with classical music utilizing live performance and electronic media. The orchestra began in 1987 as the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey, professionally presenting symphonic concerts. Beginning with our first Discovery Concert in 1996, and culminating with our name change in 2006, our presentations evolved to primarily feature orchestral and chamber music performances combined with interactive instruction by Artistic Director George Marriner Maull.

The ubiquitous presence of electronically reproduced music in our society continues to train people to merely hear music as a background to activities such as dining, driving and texting. The Discovery Orchestra trains people how to actually listen with their complete attention. By promoting active listening, many participants share that they have 'peak experiences' with music of the type described by psychologist Abraham Maslow.

At Discovery Concerts, Maestro Maull and the musicians perform a short work and then explore it with the audience. It is a carefully planned encounter in noticing the details of the music. These are pointed out in accessible terms using a Listening Guide -- a visual 'map' of the music. Musical examples, questions, stories and humor help the audience as they actively participate by answering questions and physically responding. After the exploration, the entire piece is played again. A large majority of the audience say they are much more connected with the music the second time through.

The orchestra serves individuals of diverse backgrounds from New Jersey and other parts of the tri-state through our live programs. We also reach hundreds of thousands of people annually through our award-winning public television shows: 'Bach to the Future,' 'Discover Beethoven's 5th', and 'Discover Vivaldi's Four Seasons' -- as well as through our Discovery Orchestra Chats on YouTube. Key personnel are: Artistic Director George Marriner Maull, a professional musician, conductor and educator for over 40 years; Executive Director Virginia Johnston, with the orchestra since 1992 and also a professional musician; Events Director Jeanne Maass; and Administrative Director Diane Lester. Participants tell us The Discovery Orchestra experience has transformed their listening and enhanced their lives.

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