New Jersey Youth Symphony Celebrates Black History Month with Dance, Oration and Music

The New Jersey Youth Symphony returns to the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton on Saturday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate Black History Month with a dynamic educational program that will explore the vast and vivacious culture of African legacy in America through a captivating blend of music, oration, and dance.

The Discovery Orchestra’s George Marriner Maull and dancers from The Newark School of the Arts will guide the audience through a performance of African American plantation folk dance dating from 19th century African slave communities in “Discovering Juba Dance.” The award-winning NJYS Youth Symphony led by Artistic Director Helen H. Cha-Pyo will perform works by Omar Thomas, Florence Price, and Dvořák’s beloved Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Tickets start at $15 and are available online at WhartonArts.org.

The New Jersey Youth Symphony commissioned Maurice Chestnut to choreograph Price’s Juba Dance specially for this concert and partnered with the Newark School of the Arts (NSA), where five tap dance students are learning the dance from Chestnut, an alumnus of their program. Omar Thomas’ work, Of Our New Day Begun, is dedicated to honor the nine victims and families of the 2015 terrorist attack on the Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, SC. Among those who were killed was the senior pastor and former state senator, Clementa C. Pinckney.

“As we honor Black History Month and celebrate Black Excellence, I am thrilled about our collaboration with Maurice Chestnut and the dancers from the Newark School of the Arts and Maestro George Marriner Maull of The Discovery Orchestra,” said Cha-Pyo. “We will delve into the significance of Florence Price’s Juba Dance and immerse ourselves in the rich tradition of African American music and its influence on classical composers such as Antonin Dvořák. Additionally, we are honored to present Of Our New Day Begun by the award-winning composer, Omar Thomas. This powerful piece not only boasts a fabulous score, but also holds great relevance in the current moment in our history.”

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