(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Dr. Nancy Mezey grew up in the world of classical music. She played oboe in her school orchestra and band in Ardsley, NY, and in the Westchester Youth Orchestra, the New York All-State Band, and the Manhattan School of Music pre-conservatory training program. Her lifelong love of classical music led her to a Garden State Philharmonic concert in 2016, and in 2017, she joined the Board of Directors.
So, when the Garden State Philharmonic’s Board of Directors asked Dr. Mezey, Dean of the Honors School at Monmouth University, to become its new President, leading the organization at this very challenging time, she was, “very excited. The GSP is an amazing organization with a long history of providing professional-level orchestral music to the Jersey Shore. Our professional orchestra, coupled with our Community Chorus and Youth Orchestra creates a comprehensive symphonic music organization with an impressive past and what promises to be a vibrant future.”
Acknowledging the complications posed by the current Covid environment, the Point Pleasant Boro resident points out that the pandemic has challenged the orchestra’s management “to find creative ways to provide professional orchestral concerts and educational opportunities for our youth.
“While the pandemic has prevented us from bringing in-person musical performances and educational events to the community, we have been successful in offering them virtually. In May we produced our first live-streamed orchestral event, followed by our partnership in July with Monmouth University for its first-ever Summer Music and Arts Festival, also delivered virtually. We are now offering an Online Coaching Program for our Youth Orchestra; an Instruments of the Orchestra educational video series is in development; and a spring series of virtual Chamber Music Concerts is also being planned."
Dr. Mezey is enthusiastic about working with an impressive team of talented, creative and highly engaged artistic and administrative staff and board volunteers who are meeting the challenges of this unprecedented time by finding new and innovative ways to serve its constituency and ensure its future.
“Diane Wittry, our Music Director & Conductor, is a creative force, who has helped us build a talented team to meet these challenges,” Dr. Mezey says. “Maestro Wittry, who has conducted orchestras in 11 countries throughout the world, currently resides in Allentown, PA, where she is also Music Director and Conductor of the Allentown Symphony. She was recently named one of the Top 30 Professional Musicians by Musical America Worldwide.
“In an innovative strategy, Maestro Wittry was instrumental in bringing three performing professional musicians onto the GSP staff for administrative projects,” Dr. Mezey points out. “Allison Kiger, principal flutist, serves as Development Director, focusing on fundraising; Karl Kramer, soloist and principal horn player, supervises the Online Youth Coaching Program and Youth Orchestra; and Emily Tsai, principal oboist, manages sound engineering and video editing for our Instruments of the Orchestra video series.
“The pandemic,” she continues, “poses significant challenges for the ability of the Community Chorus to perform which are difficult to overcome at this time. Under the stellar leadership of Steven Russell, GSP Chorus Director, the chorus has grown its membership, repertoire, and the excellence of its performance, positioning it well for a strong return when it is safe to do so.”
Dr. Mezey believes that the Garden State Philharmonic’s future is bright and is thrilled to be working with a team that is committed to creating the best musical and educational programming possible for our audience. She encourages community members to support the GSP during this challenging time by taking advantage of its virtual programming opportunities, and making a donation to help sustain it for the future.
The Garden State Philharmonic is a non-profit 501c(3) arts organization. The orchestra, under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Diane Wittry, is in its 65th season. From its roots in Ocean County, NJ, the organization has grown into a critically acclaimed professional orchestra that is the “Orchestra in Residence” at Ocean County College in Toms River. In addition to the professional orchestra, the GSP sponsors a three-tiered Youth Orchestra program comprised of more than 100 students between the ages of eight and 21, and an auditioned Community Chorus.