Bokyung (Nina) Park | Aadhitya Raam Ashok
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ) -- On February 24, Wharton Arts announced that two local teens have received awards from the Garden State’s leading performing arts education organization. Aadhitya Raam Ashok of Edison is the winner of the inaugural Wharton Arts Annual Choral Composition Competition and Nina Park of Basking Ridge is the winner of the 2023 New Jersey Youth Symphony Concerto Competition.
Part of an annual commissioning project to engage young New Jersey composers and contribute to the cultivation of new repertoire for youth choruses, the Wharton Arts Choral Composition Competition was established in the 2022-23 season for New Jersey-based high school students. Winner Aadhitya Raam Ashok, a senior at John P. Stevens High School in Edison, began his musical studies at the age of three in Bergen’s Yamaha Music School where he has been a recipient of the Jeffery Corolla and Frank Calabrese Scholarship for the last six years. He completed the London College of Music Diploma (DipLCM) exams with distinction and has won numerous composition awards, including being a three-time National Finalist in the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) competition, three-time winner in the Eastern Division of the MTNA competition, and six-time winner in the NJ MTNA Composition competition. He received the Gold Medal in the National Young Maestro Composition Competition across multiple years and was finalist in the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) twice consecutively. He placed first in the Golden Key International and National Piano Composition Competition twice consecutively as well. He won the Grand Prize in the Rising Talents Festival.
Aadhitya plays trombone, tuba, baritone horn, and clarinet at his high school and has also composed pieces for the school band. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Erbhar Sal (Vienna, Austria), Osimo Italy, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Cerritos Performing Arts Theater (Los Angeles), the Sharp Theater, Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch College, Merkin Concert Hall, Central Unitarian Church, Italian Theatre, Ryder University, Newark School of Arts (NSA), S. V. Temple, HATCC Temple, and at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Aadhitya has participated in the John P Stevens marching band as its Synth Lead for the past four years and Front Ensemble Captain in his senior year. He is also affiliated with the John P. Stevens Jazz Ensemble, where he has served as the lead pianist for the past four years. He has been part of the John P. Stevens Wind Ensemble for three years and has regularly composed pieces for the band to perform. Aadhitya was the November Senior of the Month at his high school.
Said Aadhitya, “As an enthusiastic high school musician and composer, it feels wonderful to win my first choral composition competition with the Wharton Arts Annual Choral Composition Competition. I am grateful for the wonderful panel of judges who provided me with useful comments, along with their appreciation for my unique yet powerful music. Having my music featured by a youth choir is a great opportunity for me to gain experience into how young singers might approach my music.”
Aadhitya’s winning composition, A Bright Youthful Future, will premiere under the direction of New Jersey Youth Chorus Founder and Music Director, Trish Joyce on Sunday, May 21, at the NJYS spring concert as part of their 30th anniversary celebration.
Pianist Bokyung (Nina) Park, a junior at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, has been named the winner of the New Jersey Youth Symphony's 2023 Concerto Competition. She studies piano under Dr. Jungwon Shin. Other accolades include winning the New York International Classical Music Competition, the Camerata International Music Competition, and finalist of the American Music Talent Competition. At her high school, Nina plays in the jazz band, wind ensemble, and the Drama Club production of the musical, Newsies. She is also an active member of the Tri-M Music Honors Society where she conducts and manages small ensembles formed amongst her peers. Outside of school, Nina is part of a student-led music organization called the Bernards Ensemble, where she organizes concerts and performs for under-represented populations who have a hard time physically coming to concerts, especially those with cognitive disabilities. Recently, Nina founded a non-profit called the Neurodiversity Ambassadors where she initiates opportunities to teach music to people with cognitive disabilities through the local YMCA in a program called, “Music, Rhythm, and You!”
Said Nina, “Being a pianist my entire life, my performance experiences so far have been limited to solo and chamber music. Winning the New Jersey Youth Symphony Concerto Competition is such a special opportunity for me to perform a completely new style of music with a full orchestra, an opportunity that is exceptionally rare for a growing music student like me.”
Tickets available online to hear Nina perform Liszt’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 with the NJYS Youth Symphony on April 30.
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 over 500 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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