State Theatre New Jersey


Symphony Scholars introduces young artists to classical music

If you came to see The Bamberg Symphony or the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine at State Theatre New Jersey, you may have noticed a few unusually young VIPs at the performance. These busy up-and-coming musicians don’t often have time to attend the theater, but they made an exception to join us.

Of course, we're talking about the Symphony Scholars from New Brunswick Middle School and Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Symphony Scholars is a free program, presented in partnership with the New Brunswick School District, that provides opportunities for local students in the district’s orchestra program to attend classical performances at The State. To prepare for the event, our docent, conductor Michael Avigliano, meets in-class with the Scholars to teach them about each piece on the program: background on the composer, the musical intricacies of the work, and key elements to listen for. At a post-concert session, Mr. Avagliano leads students in a reflection on what they saw and heard. Each Scholar also receives support materials in the form of the State Theatre’s Keynotes study and performance guide, along with a CD comprising all of the music they will hear at the concert. They are also invited to bring a parent or other family member to the concert.

But our Scholars’ favorite part of the program is getting to meet the soloist and conductor. Students attending the Bamberg Symphony couldn’t wait to take selfies with the soloist, violin superstar Ray Chen. Beyond his fame as a performer, Ray is also known as the creator of “Mozart & Burgers,” a Youtube video comparing one of the most famous composers of all time to one of the best food choices of all time. Before the concert, he took a moment  to speak with the Scholars and talk about his journey in music. Scholars who attended the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine chatted with the fleet-fingered piano soloist Alexei Grynuk and conductor Theodore Kuchar.

If you are interested in receiving the same kind of pre-concert preparation as our Symphony Scholars, make sure to check out our Performance Insights Podcasts. Our lecturer, Anthony LaGruth, Artistic Director of the Garden State Philharmonic, provides perspective on the background of the music and the art form, things to watch and listen for during the performance, and a historical look at the creative process of the composer, conductor, and soloist. 


Photo (Top): Ray Chen (Center), Violin Soloist with the Bamberg Symphony; Laura Baron, President of The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, State Theatre CEO Tom Carto; with State Theatre Symphony Scholars

Photo (Bottom): Theodore Kuchar (Center), Conductor of National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine

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