George Marriner Maull was stunned when he learned that a group of teenagers had designated the Discovery Orchestra, the musical organization he has led for two decades, as a beneficiary of a special fundraising concert being held on Saturday, March 10, at Westminster Conservatory’s Bristol Chapel.
Teenagers? Raising money for the arts?
“I would say we were sort of flabbergasted and thrilled that there would be a group of teenagers who would want to do such a thing,” says Maull in a phone interview from the orchestra’s headquarters in Warren Township. “It is utterly amazing to me. And apparently they’ve got lots of plans in the works.”
Formerly known as the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey, the Discovery Orchestra changed its name last year to reflect its mission of helping audiences become better listeners.
Camp Quality, a volunteer-driven organization that provides free camping experiences to children with cancer, is another beneficiary of the March 10 concert, which will feature pianist Larissa Korkina, on the master faculty of Westminster, several of Korkina’s advanced students, and guest artists playing music of Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and other composers.
For Korkina, who came to Princeton from Moscow in 1990 and has been on the faculty of Westminster Conservatory since 1993 (she also teaches privately and at the Lawrenceville School) participating in this benefit concert is an opportunity to “give back” for her and her pupils. “Music is basically communication, a great way to bring people together,” she says. “It brings a lot of beauty but it also enriches life.”
The arts are not the only target of Young Event Planners, These youthful do-gooders have also named
“Most of my friends and I used to work for a charity called Sharing Village,” says Lydia McGinniss, a sophomore at Voorhees High School and the president of the Young Event Planners, a club of high-school-aged friends from Tewksbury, Morristown, and other areas of New Jersey. “We decided to form our club last year so we could do events for more than one charity.” Members Andrew Sun and Molly Zhu are both West Windsor residents.
Volunteering comes naturally to Lydia, who credits her mother, Laurie Anderson, with getting her started on the charity track. Lydia was in seventh grade when her mother asked her and her older sister, Heather, to help with a fundraiser for a cancer survivor group. “They decided to help, because I am a cancer survivor myself,” says Anderson. “It was a concert with a high tea, and I got the kids and their friends to help with the tea. It wasn’t very professional — one of the kids decided to decorate the sandwiches with bubble gum, which made some very chewy sandwiches — but we made over $7,000. And the girls said they thought it might be fun to do more things like that.”
Anderson volunteers for several organizations. Her husband is a patent lawyer for Merck. She urged her daughters to form two separate volunteering clubs, one in middle school, and the other in high school. When Heather went off to college, Lydia continued her charity work. She and her colleagues have organized pony rides, concerts, a live Nativity with a singing Mary, and music competitions — all to raise funds for charitable causes. Last November, they ran a concert and high tea that benefited Camp Quality and the Newtown Chamber Orchestra of Newtown, PA.
The club lists 32 “adult supporters,” including Maull of the Discovery Orchestra and Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Whitman (yes, that’s Christie), along with two members of the prestigious Explorers’ Club. Its eclectic “adult advisory board” consists of Russell Hoffman, the artistic director of the Newtown Chamber Orchestra; Mrs. Wendy Kennedy; and Joseph B. Wiley Jr., “Master of Basset Hounds, Tewksbury Foot Bassets.”
The club members got to know Maull when he helped out as a judge for a music competition they held. “He’s given us ideas,” says Lydia. “So we wanted to do something for him to raise money for his orchestra.”
The club meets with its advisory board three times a year. Anderson has helped teach the volunteers organizational business skills, urging them to follow certain rules of etiquette. “After an event they get together to write thank you notes. It’s really important for them to learn these things, because they don’t learn them in school,” she says. “Lydia hand-wrote letters to many people who knew what she and the others had done as the junior board for the cancer survivors’ group, and that’s how she got the list of adult supporters they have today.”
The club members were drawn to Camp Quality as a recipient of their fundraising efforts because of its all-volunteer status. “All the money goes directly to the cancer patients because all of the employees are volunteer,” says Lydia. “And we just wanted a good charity people didn’t normally donate to.”
Anderson encourages Lydia and her fellow club members to follow their charitable path. But she doesn’t have to do much urging — the kids keep coming up with new ideas. “I think it’s the camaraderie that propels them, and the realization that they can make a difference,” she says. “You don’t have to do something that makes millions of dollars to make a difference. If you make a few thousand dollars, especially for something like this camp with no salaried employees that gives children undergoing cancer treatments these weeks of sheer fun, that’s a great thing. And it’s fun to help people. Most of them really feel it can be fun to help people; it’s not a punishment.”
Classical Music for Kids with Cancer, Saturday, March 10, 3 p.m. Young Event Planners, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton. Young musicians present solo and chamber works of Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, and Rachmaninoff. Admission is free but donations for Camp Quality, a camping experience for children with cancer, and the Discovery Orchestra, an educational program, are invited. Reception follows concert. 908-439-2023. For more information on Camp Quality or the Discovery Orchestra visit www.CampQualityNJ.org or www.DiscoveryOrchestra.org.