(NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, will livestream a free concert from the Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown on Saturday, May 15 at 7:00pm on WhartonArts.tv. Featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony led by Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo and with the support of the League of American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, NJYS will partner with Nokia Bell Labs to experiment with two-way communication at the concert. C4C, a technology that turns audience members’ phones into speakers, will enable concertgoers to become part of the performance.
Said Cha-Pyo, “This has been an invigorating journey, starting with the conception of this experimental project and culminating in the actual performances of new compositions using C4C technology. Working with our tremendously talented team of youth musicians, composers, and creative technologists has confirmed the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations of arts and technology as a way for live concerts to increase their relevance in the 21st century.”
Developed by Nokia’s Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) lab, C4C allows the performers to sense the response of the audience in real time and activate sounds throughout the audience in synchrony with the main performance. The solution presents a new form of sonic immersion that enables deeper connection between the audience and the performers. E.A.T. is a pioneering initiative that brings together the worlds of engineering, science, and the arts to humanize technology.
Said Head of E.A.T. Domhnaill Hernon, “Working with New Jersey Youth Symphony students has been inspirational. In particular, to see our emerging technology used to showcase their creativity and to enable deeper connection between people gives me great hope for the future of humanity.”
A carefully selected team of students has worked directly with E.A.T. Creative Technologists Danielle McPhatter and Ethan Edwards to assist with the implementation of the new technology at rehearsals. Trombonist Jimmy Chen, a senior at Bridgewater-Raritan High School; percussionist Abhinav Datla, a senior at Sayreville War Memorial High School; violinist Samantha Liu, a junior at Ridge High School; jazz bassist Ryoma Takenaga, a junior at The Academy for Information Technology; bassoonist Samhita Tatavarty, a junior at Ridge High School; and violinist Brian Zhang, a senior at The Academy for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, have had the opportunity to combine their passions for technology, innovation, and music in weekly sessions with the researchers.
Said McPhatter, “The students have been working together to traverse uncharted waters at the intersection of music, art, and technology. With their interdisciplinary skillset, they have set out to solve ambitious challenges to create an immersive multi-media performance to connect the performers and audience members in new ways.”
“Working with the Nokia Bell Labs E.A.T. team has been an incredible experience,” said Datla. “As a group we were able to compile our individual skills and creativity to develop truly unique final projects.”
“This project has been so great to work on!” said Tatavarty. “Art and technology are generally viewed as being on opposite sides of the spectrum in daily life, so being able to push those limits by working with the other students on something like a tech-augmented performance, especially with a traditional orchestra on hand, has been an eye-opening and inspirational experience. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this initiative, and it's amazing to see those two worlds meld together to create an enhanced concert experience for everyone involved!”
Said Takenaga, "Participating in the Nokia Bell Labs project was a very rewarding experience for me because I was able to work with composers and researchers in the fields of music and technology, and collaborate with other young musicians who share my passion for the integration of technology and art. The fruit of this project is an innovative and worthwhile event!”
As part of the Futures Fund’s partnership with Nokia Bell Labs, NJYS commissioned two composers, Patricio Molina and Mesia Austin, to write COVID-friendly small ensemble works to be premiered at the May 15 concert.
Said Molina, “I am very inspired and so honored to have such a fantastic group of young musicians perform my music. My thanks to Helen Cha-Pyo, the NJYS students, and the Nokia researchers for giving 150% to make beautiful music during a pandemic. It has been an inspiring experience.”
In addition to Homage to Kahlil Gibran and Homage to Nicarno Parra by Molina and Spiral by Austin, the concert will feature works by Gabrieli, Bach, Beethoven, and Karel Husa. For more information about the livestream concert, visit NJYS.org.
The New Jersey Youth Symphony, 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 42nd season, NJYS continues to achieve musical excellence through intensive instruction and high-level performance. Under the guidance of a talented 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 regularly features 20th century African American and women composers such as Duke Ellington, George Walker, Yvonne Desportes, Emma Lou Diemer, Julia Perry, and Florence Price.
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 1,200 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 and the Performing Arts School.