Future Projects 2021 & Beyond

OVERVIEW – JUNE 6, 2021 (Rescheduled from April 19)
With the support of New Music USA, New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) seeks to commission an original composition by Raul Abbad to create a performance that celebrates the stories of immigrants through music and dance. The dance component will be performed by the Inner City Ensemble, a youth dance group from Paterson, NJ that has received funding from the Taub Foundation to participate in the project.

Peruvian composer Raul Abbad will create a 20 minute multi-movement piece for string orchestra and percussion that honors the journey of migrants and ties together this common human experience, drawing upon his extensive experience performing and composing classical, Latin, jazz, and fusion music. The composition can be performed by a chamber group (string quintet, dancer and percussion) which will allow for it to be presented in various venues and communities.  In fall 2020, Abbad will work closely with Helen H. Cha-Pyo, Artistic Director and Lead Conductor of New Jersey Youth Symphony, to rehearse this piece with youth musicians in NJYS’s Youth Symphony—its premier ensemble of 100 of high school students. Inner City Ensemble Executive Director and Choreographer, Nicholas Rodriguez, will choreograph a dance interpretation to accompany the musical performance.

Raul Abbad will draw upon his own experiences as an immigrant to the United States. In his own words:

“A project like this gives voice to the marginalized in our society. I often compose music that bridges my two worlds of Peru and the United States. By bringing Peruvian, African, and other Latin influences into the classical music space, traditional music is carried forward in new spaces and brought to new audiences. My music is the music of migration, it’s about creating new spaces culturally, musically, spiritually, and physically. My philosophy of composing and sharing music is to create a product that reflects working, regular people and to share their authentic stories and struggles. This project is a perfect opportunity for me to continue sharing people’s stories and voices and to reflect my story as an immigrant, moving from Lima, Peru to Elizabeth, NJ.”

This project will culminate in two concerts featuring the New Jersey Youth Orchestra and Inner City Ensemble performing the new work. The first concert will be at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University in January 2021. The second concert will be for Paterson Public School students at Rosa L Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ.

We are committed to this project because there is great educational value to students and audiences alike. Classically trained youth musicians will expand their musical vocabularies through learning this new classical-Latin fusion composition. Everyone benefits from honoring each other’s journey as migrants in life. The performance will be documented in video and shared online.



Highlights from Inner City Ensemble’s “Where Have You Gone, Trayvon – A Dance Theater Response” (2019). This performance, choreographed by Nicholas Rodriguez, was made possible with support from the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council with funding the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks grant.


This is an original composition by Raul Abbad, composed for the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Band “Bajopontino” – called “Suris,” it’s a cumbia. Please focus on minutes 1:10-2:10.

New Jersey Youth Symphony’s 40th anniversary performance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center featured NJ soloists Mia Pafumi (soprano), Theron Cromer (tenor), and John-Andrew Fernandez (baritone) as well as the combined forces of NJYS, J.P Stevens High School Chorus, Newark Academy Chorus, New Providence High School Chorus, Ridge High School A Cappella Honors Choir, Somerville High School Chorus, and the Newark Boys Chorus. It featured a string orchestra of 100 instrumentalists and was conducted by Helen H. Cha-Pyo.

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Since 2016, the  Inner City Ensemble has offered a Summer Dance Intensive in collaboration with Principal Jalyn Lyde, Dance Director, Erin Pride, School Counselor, Sharon Stephens, as well as other guest teaching-artists, at the Rosa L. Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts. in 2020, the Ensembles seeks partner-venues to help us in our effort to offer summer arts programming for under-served Paterson, NJ youth.

All Photos: “Pasos Aquatico (Water Step)” by Nicholas Rodriguez & Andre Tyson.

(Above, left to right) Imani McCrorey, Nicholas Rodriguez, Tamere Chambers & Damani Van Rensalier. (Below, left to right) Imani McCrorey, Jahwan Williams & D’Mia Fruster in foreground, and Hawing Vasquez, Silver Gonzalez & Damani Van Rensalier in background. Art in the Park Showcase 2016, following the pilot year of Summer Dance Institute.