(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra (GPYO) has announced the appointment of Jessica Morel as the Orchestra’s Music Director, effective immediately. Dr. Morel hails most recently from the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras where she served as the primary conductor for the Charlotte Symphony Youth Philharmonic.
A passionate music educator, Jessica Morel served as the Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program, which saw significant growth under her leadership. A native of Los Angeles, Jessica Morel received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Indiana University and her master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She recently completed her doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of North Texas, where she studied with David Itkin and Clay Couturiaux.
“It is an absolute honor and privilege to be named the new Music Director for the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra," said Dr. Morel. "I am looking forward to meeting the students in September! I think that there is going to be a lot of excitement for the start of the 2021 season, especially since the pandemic was tough on student musicians who missed out on getting to play as an ensemble for over a year. Everyone is eager for things to return to normal, to play music and harmonize with others again, and I'm thrilled to lead these talented students during this period of revitalization."
Past GPYO music directors include Mark Laycock and Fernando Raucci, as well founder Matteo Giammario, who led the group for the first 25 years of its 60-year history.
In a newly-formed partnership, the GPYO and Westminster Conservatory (WC) will join forces effective July 31, 2021, to increase opportunities for their students to learn and perform music. Effectively, GPYO will become the Orchestra for students of the Westminster Conservatory. GPYO students are encouraged to increase their music literacy and proficiency through enrollment in WC programs, and will be offered a 10% discount on tuition. While the GPYO provides financial support for promising young musicians with demonstrated financial need, participants in the joint program will be eligible to apply to WC for financial aid and scholarships which will be awarded at the discretion of a special WC committee.
"The pandemic has challenged so many performing arts organizations, especially smaller ones. It is crucial for groups like ours to work together, particularly when the education of the next generation of artists and audiences is at stake," said GPYO Board member and interim Executive Director Wendy Norris. “Working together, we know we can serve our students so much more effectively than we could before, and we are excited to explore joint projects. This is a striking step forward given the challenges we all faced this past year and a half.”
Scott Hoerl, Executive Director of the WC adds, “Because the pandemic has almost erased ‘normal’ for the music education community, we will proceed incrementally to shape our relationship in a way that allows for evaluation of best steps along the way. I find it so exciting that we are ready to launch with bringing our students together in a larger, more diverse community than before.”
The GPYO ensembles include the flagship Symphonic Orchestra, the Concert Orchestra for intermediate level musicians and the Preparatory String Ensemble and Preparatory Wind Ensemble for younger students. In-person rehearsals resume on Monday, September 13.
Video auditions for new members age 8 to 18 are welcome until August 30. Please visit www.gpyo.org for complete details.
Founded in 1960 as the Mercer County Symphonic Orchestra, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra has been delighting audiences and training young musicians for more than 60 years.
The Orchestra’s mission is to provide high level music education and performance opportunities to the students of the region and to cultivate a lifelong appreciation of the arts. GPYO ensembles have toured Europe and the United States, and have collaborated with a number of New Jersey’s finest performing groups over the years. In the recent past, they have performed at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Its artistic vision has been led by a number of fine educators and conductors, including founder Dr. Matteo Giammario, Mark Laycock, and Fernando Raucci.
The GPYO draws its membership from Central New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. Through their involvement with the orchestra, gifted young musicians learn to work with others in pursuing common goals, and enrich all our lives through public performances of classical music. Instrumentalists from elementary through high school may join by competitive audition.
Deadlines to remember for GPYO Participation:
Audition Deadline for New Members: August 30 | Registration for returning members begins July 26
Established in 1970, Westminster Conservatory is the community music school of Westminster College of the Arts of Rider University. Welcoming young musicians of all ages, skill levels, instrument preferences, and economic backgrounds, Westminster Conservatory provides focused one-on-one lessons in a musical environment close to you. In addition, the Conservatory offers a wide range of classes and performing ensembles to engage every student, from the beginner to young maestros, regardless of age. Some classes are intended as an introduction to music and require no previous experience while others are designed to complement private instruction.
Particularly gifted students have the opportunity to join the Conservatory's Honors Music Program, which offers a comprehensive curriculum designed toward mastering total musicianship. Westminster Conservatory of Music is a nationally recognized institution, maintaining active membership in the National Guild for Community Arts Education.