The Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra (GPYO) announced the appointment of Jessica Morel as the orchestra’s music director, effective immediately.
Morel hails most recently from the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras where she served as the primary conductor for the Charlotte Symphony Youth Philharmonic, according to information provided by GPYO. She served as the music director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program.
A native of Los Angeles, Morel received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Indiana University and her master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
She recently completed her doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of North Texas, where she studied with David Itkin and Clay Couturiaux.
“It is an absolute honor and privilege to be named the new music director for the GPYO. I am looking forward to meeting the students in September,” Morel said in the statement. “I think that there is going to be a lot of excitement for the start of the 2021 season, especially since the pandemic was tough on student musicians who missed out on getting to play as an ensemble for over a year. Everyone is eager for things to return to normal, to play music and harmonize with others again, and I’m thrilled to lead these talented students during this period of revitalization.”
Furthermore, in a newly-formed partnership, the GPYO and Westminster Conservatory (WC) will join forces effective July 3, to increase opportunities for their students to learn and perform music. Effectively, GPYO will become the orchestra for students of the WC, according to the statement.
GPYO students are encouraged to increase their music literacy and proficiency through enrollment in WC programs, and will be offered a 10% discount on tuition, according to the statement. While the GPYO provides financial support for promising young musicians with demonstrated financial need, participants in the joint program will be eligible to apply to WC for financial aid and scholarships which will be awarded at the discretion of a special WC committee.
“The pandemic has challenged so many performing arts organizations, especially smaller ones. It is crucial for groups like ours to work together, particularly when the education of the next generation of artists and audiences is at stake,” GPYO board member and interim Executive Director Wendy Norris said in the statement. “Working together, we know we can serve our students so much more effectively than we could before, and we are excited to explore joint projects. This is a striking step forward given the challenges we all faced this past year-and-a-half.”
Scott Hoerl, executive director of the WC, added in the statement, “Because the pandemic has almost erased ‘normal’ for the music education community, we will proceed incrementally to shape our relationship in a way that allows for evaluation of best steps along the way. I find it so exciting that we are ready to launch with bringing our students together in a larger, more diverse community than before.”
The GPYO ensembles include the flagship Symphonic Orchestra, the Concert Orchestra for intermediate level musicians, and the Preparatory String Ensemble and Preparatory Wind Ensemble for younger students.
In-person rehearsals resume Sept. 13.
Video auditions for new members ages 8-18 are welcome until Aug. 30. Visit www.gpyo.org for complete details.