Performathon syncs with community

A group of children and adults prepare to perform in the 2012 New Jersey Music Teachers Association’s (NJMTA) Children Helping Children Performathon. This event gives participants the opportunity to showcase their musical abilities and share their love of the artform for the sake of charity.

By Melissa Lindley

Westminster Choir College (WCC) and the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) are teaming up to create harmony between music and community service. WCC is hosting the seventh annual New Jersey Music Teachers Association’s (NJMTA) Children Helping Children Performathon on Feb. 23-24.

The Children Helping Children Performathon provides students of all ages and musical backgrounds the opportunity to unite with their peers and share music with the hope that it’ll inspire personal development and community involvement.

The first day’s performances will be held in Bristol Chapel from 12:30-4:30 p.m. and in Williamson Hall from 1:30-9 p.m. The second set will take place in Bristol Chapel from 1-7 p.m. and in Williamson Hall from 12:30-9 p.m.

This year’s performances include vocals, solo and duet piano, flutes, strings and a variety of musical groups. A middle school ensemble and high school flute ensemble, a string quartet and string and piano trios are also among the expected acts for the event.

According to a press release from Westminster External Affairs, last year’s Performathon raised more than $19,000 for RMHC. About 300 performers and 45 teachers took an active role in that effort. However, the Performathon planning committee strives to increase the proceeds for this year’s event.

Betty Stoloff, an associate adjunct professor of piano, is in charge of organizing this event for the NJMTA. All of the proceeds from the event will go to Ronald McDonald Houses around New Jersey, including ones in Long Branch, Camden and New Brunswick.

According to its mission statement, RMHC “creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children.”

The Ronald McDonald Houses are usually connected to a local children’s hospital. They provide a “home away from home” for families whose children are undergoing intensive treatment at the hospital.

Stoloff’s dedication and support for RMHC comes from personal experience. She and her husband spent two months living in one of the houses while their daughter Becca endured aggressive treatments at the Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., 13 years ago.

The house they stayed in happened to have a piano, and several weeks into their stay, Stoloff made arrangements for someone to tune and repair it. She found it extremely therapeutic to have the ability to play for both herself and the other residents.

“It helped me, and it helped others,” she said. “Music does work miracles.”

The story of Becca’s struggle and fight for her life has been incredibly inspiring for Stoloff, who remembered when the doctors said Becca would not make it through the night. Becca is now in the process of completing her doctorate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, researching human motor control and pursuing her Ph.D. in bioengineering and neuroscience.

Each recital will last an hour, with 45 minutes per performance and 15 minutes devoted to award presentations and photo opportunities.

Printed in the 2/22/13 edition

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