Celebrating 45 Years – A Note from President & CEO, Michele Russo


45 years ago, a small, dedicated team created Young Audiences New Jersey. In the early years, our primary goal was to ensure that children experienced classical music in school. We have grown so much since then.

During our early years you might have experienced one of our programs in your elementary school. I remember sitting in my school gym in South Brunswick, NJ, seeing a wind ensemble and actor perform Peter and the Wolf . I was transfixed—I never knew such a thing existed!

As an avid reader, I always understood what I read, but this time I felt  the story. The sounds of the instruments and the story of Peter captured my imagination and inspired me to play the flute. To this day, Young Audiences oers Peter and the Wolf , performed by the Phoenix Woodwind Quintet. It honors our beginnings in classical music, and its timeless beauty is just as captivating as ever.

Since our founding, we’ve has grown into the region’s largest and most comprehensive arts education organization, serving New Jersey’s 21 counties and the 7 easternmost counties in Pennsylvania. As part of a national network of 32 YA affilates, we connect with regional and national movements and trends. We embrace all art forms: music, theatre, literary arts, visual arts, and digital & media arts. We offer performances, workshops, residencies, and professional learning for teachers, and partner with school districts, parents, arts organizations, and local businesses extensively to advance the field of arts education. Over the years our programs have affected over 12 million children.

As you leaf through our new program guide, I ask you to think of us as your partner in arts education. We work every day to make your job bringing the arts to students a little easier. Our committed staff are ready to assist you so that your students can be inspired and ignited by arts education—just like I was.


Michele Russo





President & CEO

P.S. If you remember a YA program from when you were in school, we’d love to hear about it!

Email us at artsmatter@yanjep.