On Thursday, April 22 @ 7pm EDT, Wharton Arts will hold its first virtual gala, “Messengers of Hope,” celebrating Wharton’s thriving and life-changing performing arts education programs.

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ, April 14, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — On Thursday, April 22 @ 7pm EDT, the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts will honor Academy Award-nominated composer John C. Debney with the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. This award distinguishes individuals who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the performing arts and represent a beacon of inspiration to Wharton Arts’ students. Wharton Arts has also established an annual Education Award that recognizes significant and important contributions to arts education in its communities as well as those who have shown exceptional commitment to the advancement of music education in general over their lifetimes. This inaugural award will honor Robert B. Morrison and Arts Ed NJ for their tireless advocacy of arts education in the Garden State of New Jersey.

“On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I am so honored to announce that the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts will be honoring John Debney, one of Hollywood’s most prolific composers, with its 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Executive Director Peter H. Gistelinck. “It has been great to see the enthusiasm of our students in preparing to perform selections of his work and we can’t wait to hear and see the result at our Annual Gala.”

John C. Debney is considered one of the most successful composers in Hollywood. His unique ability to create memorable work across a variety of genres, as well as his reputation for being remarkably collaborative, have made him the first choice of top level producers and directors. Debney combines his classical training and a strong knowledge of contemporary sounds to easily adapt to any assignment. Debney’s work includes Hocus Pocus, Liar Liar, The Princess Diaries, Iron Man 2, Chicken Little, Bruce Almighty, Sin City, Elf, Passion of the Christ, and most recently, Jingle Jangle and Come Away amongst many others. More information about John Debney can be found at JohnDebney.com.

Said Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Helen H. Cha-Pyo, “Under the leadership of Bob Morrison, Arts Ed NJ has played an important role in making New Jersey the first state to provide universal access to arts education for all public school students. Throughout the global pandemic, Bob and Arts Ed NJ have shown tremendous leadership in advocating for arts education, and we are honored to present both with the inaugural Wharton Arts Education Award.”

Robert B. Morrison has a long history as a supporter of music and arts education and is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading researchers and advocates for arts education. Morrison is the founder and CEO of Quadrant Research, the nation’s preeminent arts education data analytics and market research firm. Morrison also serves as the Director of Arts Ed NJ, the statewide arts education policy group for the state of New Jersey. Through his amazing work, New Jersey has emerged as the leading state for arts education in the country. For more information about Morrison and Arts Ed NJ, visit artsednj.org.

Entitled “Messengers of Hope,” the Annual Gala, which will be held virtually this year, celebrates Wharton’s thriving, life-changing performing arts education programs featuring performances by the New Jersey Youth Symphony, Paterson Music Project, and Performing Arts School. The theme of the gala recognizes Wharton’s dedicated young musicians who continue to share the gift of music and bring positivity to their communities despite the challenges faced during the global pandemic.

To attend and support the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts by celebrating “Messengers of Hope,” go to WhartonArtsGala.org. Tickets for this event are free!

The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.

Wharton is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving over 1,500 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 15 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, which serve 500 students in grades 3 – 12 by audition. Beginning with Out of the Box Music and Pathways classes for young children, Wharton offers private lessons, group classes, and ensembles for all ages and all abilities at the Performing Arts School. With the belief in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay, Wharton teaches all instruments and voice and has a robust musical theater program. Based in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Music Project is an El Sistema-inspired program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts that uses music as a vehicle for social change by empowering and inspiring children through the community experience of ensemble learning and playing.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 10 counties. All of Wharton’s extraordinary 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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