James Bushong, founder and director of the Patriots Arts Coalition, is to be congratulated for creating a performance series in the historic and beautiful War Memorial theater in Trenton (U.S. 1, January 16). The concept of a festival of youth orchestras is wonderful as well. As co-founder and administrative director of the Trenton Children’s Chorus in the 1990s, I staged several festivals of youth choirs at the Trenton State Museum and was able to witness how eagerly the participants learned from each other.
However, it is apparent that Mr. Bushong is not aware of the youth orchestras that have existed in Trenton for many years. I invite him to discover the Trenton Youth Orchestra, the Stretto Chamber Orchestra, the Trenton Music Makers and the school orchestras of Foundation Academy Charter School, where the curriculum requires string instrument instruction and orchestra for every student as a foundation for academic success.
Having also worked as an administrator with the Princeton Youth Orchestra, I know that the level of expertise is higher in an auditioned youth orchestra made up of children whose parents can afford private lessons, can purchase a good instrument, and so on. Nevertheless, the Trenton-based groups are thriving and growing. I know Mr. Bushong would be surprised at the performance level he will find.
Trenton youth do not “need to attend this festival so that they can see other children making amazing music on stage . . . so that they feel included in the community . . . so that they feel that orchestral music is for them.” They need the resources that other children have, and they will make their own amazing music.
And we never call them disadvantaged.
— Marcia Wood
The writer is founder and director emerita of the Trenton Community Music School.