Alumni News

From Ross Chapman ~

I am currently studying music at Columbia University, where I’m taking classes in trombone, piano, music theory, and ethnomusicology, along with my English courses. I play in the marching band and wind ensemble here, and I’ve recently gotten to do some brass chamber work. I’m also working a couple jobs and writing for a campus publication – and I still have time for music!

The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey provides an unparalleled opportunity to participate in advance chamber ensembles from a young age. This is invaluable experience that exposes musicians to new repertoire and techniques, and it can’t be found in other regional or state ensembles. The conductors are all wonderful, amicable, and intelligent; I became a better player every week with them. It also prepares musicians for environments where they are surrounded by other dedicated performers, like at college or auditions. YOCJ prepared me for success in many types of music at every level.

From Tessa Zhang ~

I am currently a freshman in the Rutgers business school double majoring in finance and economics and minoring in criminology. I am part of the Rutgers Women club volleyball team and I presented in front of the CEO of a company that provides athletic scholarships to students.
Being a part of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey has taught to be not only a better musician but also a more motivated one. The audition process prepared me for Region II Band auditions and I actually made it! YOCJ also challenged me with a wide range of pieces and motivated me to practice more. It is a great opportunity to improve upon yourself and meet new people who share your passion.

Best of luck, Tessa Zhang

From Aneesh Jonelagadda ~

Last spring, I got accepted into the prestigious All-National Honors Ensemble. I had to play second chair in band, but the top two basses get to play in band, so I guess I could be called number two in the nation! I also got into the All-Eastern ensemble, and we rehearse for the first time in just a few weeks at Rhode Island. Additionally, my CJMEA regions orchestra score was so high this year that I got invited to play in the band without needing to audition. I had lots of fun playing in these high-level groups.

The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey has really made the transition of going from a school orchestra to a professional-grade youth ensemble less disruptive. Doing YOCJ prepared me for the rigor and expectations these numerous ensembles placed upon me, and I think I had a great advantage going in to the many seating auditions I encountered because we cover and audition with a lot of exciting music in YOCJ. I also liked how Mr. Enz and Mr. Pugh gave the usually underrepresented double-bass relatively challenging parts that weren’t the stereotypical ‘whole notes and rests’.

Thanks, Aneesh Jonelagadda

From Christopher Gittings ~

Hi, I’m Christopher Gittings. I played Trumpet in the Wind Symphony, Pro Arte Orchestra, and Brass Choir as a Freshman and Sophomore in High School, Symphonic Orchestra and Brass Choir as a Junior and Senior.

I’m studying Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University as a Freshman in College. I am the captain of our Quidditch Team. I now play trumpet in the Case Symphonic Winds and Jazz Band. I also live a short walk away from Severance Hall where the Cleveland Orchestra plays and I love going to see them.

Performing with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey exposed me to a whole genre of music that I hadn’t taken seriously before. It changed my musical tastes and the direction of my instrumental journey, providing me many amazing musical and cultural experiences, which I’ll never forget.

Congrats on the new website!

Best, Chris