Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts
60 Locust Avenue
Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
ContactMs. Karen Deschere
To support the work of the El Sistema New Jersey Alliance in connecting and strengthening El Sistema-inspired programs statewide.
This year we will be launching an umbrella non-profit organization: Wharton Institute for Performing Arts. The Institute is comprised of a School for Performing Arts, New Jersey Youth Symphony, and Paterson Music Project. Our Mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.
The School for Performing Arts (formerly Wharton Music Center), founded in 1985 at the Madison YMCA, provides instrumental and vocal instruction through private and group classes to students of all ages and abilities. In 2008, coinciding with a move to its current location in Berkeley Heights, the School for Performing Arts added camps, musical theatre, and dance. Students may participate in the Achievement Program and the Royal Conservatory of Music's Development Program.
New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), the orchestral and ensemble arm of the Institute, offers ensemble education for grades 3 through 12. In 2012, NJYS, founded in 1979, merged with the School for Performing Arts but remained on its campus in New Providence. NJYS has grown from one orchestra of 65 students to over 440 students in 14 different orchestras and ensembles. NJYS ensembles perform more than 30 concerts annually. Guest musicians are invited to give master classes, and students may participate in a concerto competition and in jazz and chamber music ensembles. In July 2014, the Youth Symphony, our premier ensemble, won first place at the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival and Competition in Vienna, Austria. All NJYS ensembles performed in November 2014 at NJPAC in celebration of the NJYS 35th Anniversary, and the Youth Symphony performed in Carnegie Hall in June 2015.
The Institute's primary community engagement program is Paterson Music Project (PMP). PMP began in January 2013 with 30 students at the Community Charter School of Paterson where it now serves over 150 students. In January 2015, PMP partnered with Paterson Public Schools to open a site at Public School 1. This new site serves first through fifth grade children from P.S. 1 and 26.
Based in Paterson, New Jersey, 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 offers a wide range of classes for elementary age students. Students perform frequently for the school and community and have performed with NJYS at NJPAC. PMP is featured in a 2015 Telly Award winning documentary.
In September 2014 the Board of Directors embarked upon a strategic planning process that will conclude in the fall of 2015. A One Space committee has been formed to unite the School for Performing Arts and NJYS on one campus.
Our rich past and bright future are made possible through the generosity and talents of our teachers, staff, students, volunteers and donors.
Key personnel include Karen Deschere: Executive Director, Jeffrey Grogan: Artistic Director of New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) and PMP, Susan Oldroyd: Director of Development and Marketing, Andrew Nitkin: Director of Student Services, Susan Peterson: Director of Operations, and Elizabeth Moulthrop: Program Director of PMP, Shanna Lin Associate Director of PMP.