The Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra
The Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra (RSO) is one of Northern New Jersey's premiere cultural institutions. The orchestra has performed continuously for well over seven decades. In 2016-2017, we will celebrate 77 years of service. This is one of the longest uninterrupted tenures for a full-sized community symphony orchestra in the country.With nearly 100 members, the RSO is the largest community symphony orchestra in our area consisting entirely of unpaid Participant musicians.
Our Involvement in, and Contributions to, the Region's Music Education
While other communities provide various cultural offerings, few have a full-sized symphony orchestra. Most important of all, of the several community orchestras in our area, not one offers the spectrum of educational activities that the Ridgewood Symphony provides. The RSO gives our community's children and youth a greater exposure to a wide variety of classical music. This mission is accomplished in the following ways:
- For K-8 elementary and middle school students via special children's concert which is offered free each year. See our Schedule page for dates and times.
- For middle school students via the Ridgewood Symphony's operation of "Festival Strings," internationally recognized as one of the finest orchestras of its kind.
- For high school students via the opportunity to play in the orchestra, and by the thousands of dollars in scholarships the Ridgewood Symphony has given over the years to graduating high school seniors.
- Also for K-5 elementary school students we offer Project Symphony - a program where we bring a 50 piece version of the RSO to the elementary schools in a single school district. In March 2000, we performed at the six elementary school in Ridgewood and in March 2001, we performed at the three elementary schools in Glen Rock, and in March 2002, we performed for five of the elementary schools in Paterson. The RSO's Project Symphony - 2001 was featured on WNJN's Classroom CloseUp program in the Spring of 2001. In 2003 Project Symphony was brought to the elementary schools in River Vale and River Dale, NJ. Project Symphony - 2008 took take place in the elementary school of Oradell, New Jersey.
Clearly, the Ridgewood Symphony is a valuable part of our northern New Jersey community. Below we provide more details on this record of success and our educational mission.
RSO as a Special Opportunity for High School Musicians
Unlike most other musical groups in the area – we are an intergenerational orchestra, with members ranging from talented high school students to experienced senior citizens. In the past season, one out of every nine members of the Symphony, was a high school student. At RSO, these high school students are as much orchestra members as any of the adults. In fact, one of them currently sits as an ex-officio trustee of our Board. This is a reflection of, and contributes to, our community's commitment to outstanding education.
The RSO's strong emphasis on including outstanding student players provides numerous advantages for these students. For them, the orchestra is:
- An excellent preparation for university and professional orchestras.
- A valuable opportunity to learn from older, more experienced musicians.
- The first opportunity for many of them to become involved in an important and rewarding common endeavor with adults of all ages.
- A place where many of them play with their teachers, and in some cases with their parents and other family members.
- An inspiration to work hard every day to do well in a challenging and rewarding educational discipline.
Performing in the Ridgewood Symphony is within the reach of many of our gifted local high school students. It is a goal that many have been proud to achieve.
Finally, for many years the Ridgewood Symphony has been proud to grant scholarships to outstanding graduating high school seniors who have played in the orchestra. Over the past years, we have given tens of thousands of dollars to high school students in the Northern New Jersey region.
RSO performing at Carnegie Hall, New York City, November 1998