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New Jersey Youth Symphony Presents Black History Month Celebration Concert

originally published: 02/12/2024

New Jersey Youth Symphony Presents Black History Month Celebration Concert

(RAHWAY, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), a program of Wharton Arts, will present a Black History Month Celebration Concert on Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway. Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo will lead the NJYS Youth Symphony in Duke Ellington's Three Black Kings featuring tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant, William Grant Still's Afro American Symphony, and the world premiere of Stefania De Kennesey's Microvids for Symphony Orchestra and Piano featuring pianist Donna Weng Friedmann and narrator Diana Solomon-Glover. Showtime is 3:00pm.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Use code FAMILYPACK for five tickets for $50. To purchase tickets, go to

Said Cha-Pyo, “This season holds special significance as we celebrate Duke Ellington's 125th birth year, and the excitement is palpable as NJYS prepares to perform his final composition, Three Black Kings, featuring the incredible Lance Bryant on tenor saxophone. Additionally, marking the 45th season of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, each signature concert features premiere performances of new works by BIPOC and woman composers. I am particularly thrilled about presenting Stefania De Kenessey's Microvids with dynamic pianist Donna Weng Friedmann and eloquent reciter Diana Solomon-Glover. Closing the concert is William Grant Still's beloved Afro American Symphony, paying homage to the Dean of African American Composers. Our dedicated youth musicians and I are passionately committed to delivering a program that celebrates the richness of Black excellence, and we hope you will join us in this musical celebration.”

“I’m so excited to perform as a featured soloist with the New Jersey Youth Symphony,” said Bryant. “It’s a rare experience to play with a full orchestra. In fact, it’s a first for me! And all the more special, since we’re playing Duke Ellington’s last extended composition, written at the end of a long life of composing music of the best quality. Three Black Kings is everything we come to expect from Ellington. It’s rich, elegant, adventurous, and soulful—a final masterpiece from our maestro.”

Wharton Arts celebrates the New Jersey Youth Symphony’s 45th Anniversary Season this year with an exciting Alumni Weekend, May 4-5, 2024, and 45th Anniversary Concert on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00pm at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Throughout the 2023-24 season, NJYS honors its vibrant history and bright future with premieres of new compositions and beloved music from the inaugural season in 1979. Alumni are warmly invited to perform alongside current students at the 2024 Playathon and spring concerts in May. For more information, go to

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Wharton Arts’ mission is to offer accessible, high quality performing arts education that sparks personal growth and builds inclusive communities. Wharton Arts’ vision is for a transformative performing arts education in an inclusive community to be accessible for everyone.

Wharton Arts is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving nearly 2,000 students through a range of classes and ensembles. The 5 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Chorus, an auditioned choral ensemble program for students in grades 3–12, encourage a love and appreciation of choral music while nurturing personal growth and creative development. The 15 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, which serve nearly 600 students in grades 3–12 by audition, inspire young people to achieve musical excellence through high-level ensemble training and performance opportunities. Based in Paterson, the Paterson Music Project is an El Sistema-inspired program of Wharton Arts that uses music education as a vehicle for social action by empowering and inspiring young people to achieve their full potential through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing. From Pathways classes for young children to Lifelong Learning programs for adults, the Wharton Performing Arts School has a robust musical theater and drama program and offers both private and group classes for instruments and voice for all ages and all abilities. With the belief in the positive and unifying influence of music and that performing arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay, Wharton Arts offers need-based scholarships.

Wharton Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence, and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 12 counties. All of Wharton Arts’ extraordinary teaching artists, faculty members, and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best.



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