Members of the New Jersey Music Teachers Association (NJMTA) Children Helping Children Performathon

Members of the New Jersey Music Teachers Association (NJMTA) Children Helping Children Performathon

The concerts are set. The performers are ready. Donations are coming in. Now they only need you, the Rider community, to listen to some wonderful performances on the violin, the cello, the flute and the piano. Westminster Choir College of Rider University is stepping up for the fifth annual New Jersey Music Teachers Association (NJMTA) Children Helping Children Performathon on Saturday and Sunday, February 20 and 21.

An opportunity for students of all ages and abilities to share their involvement in music, the Performathon also allows the children to perform a vital community service: raising money for the three Ronald McDonald Houses in New Jersey, in New Brunswick, Long Branch and Camden. Last year’s Performathon raised more than $9,000, thanks to some 170 performers and 45 teachers involved in that effort.

Seven recitals will be held on Saturday, February 20, from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel, followed by seven more on Sunday, February 21, also from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m., in Williamson Hall. Both venues are on the campus of Westminster Choir College in Princeton. The performances will be organized in one-hour recitals, with 40 to 45 minutes devoted to music and 10 to 15 minutes devoted to awards and photos. Admission is free. For more information about the Performathon, go to www.njmta.com/2010Performathon.php.

Each year the Performathon has raised money for local and national charities such as Ronald McDonald House Charities, which 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, and provide a home away from home for families whose children are undergoing intensive treatment at the hospital.

Betty Stoloff, adjunct associate professor in Piano at Westminster Choir College, is chairing this year’s effort for NJMTA. Her knowledge of and admiration for the Ronald McDonald House (RMDH) was born of personal experience. Ten years ago, Stoloff and her husband spent two months living at a RMDH while their daughter, Becca, was undergoing intensive treatment at the Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

There happened to be a piano in the House and, after a few weeks, Betty Stoloff arranged for a tuner and some repairs on the instrument. She was able to play the piano for herself and for other residents. “It helped me and it helped others,” she recalled. “Music does work miracles.”

Many of Stoloff’s Westminster colleagues remember that on January 14, 2000, she was told that Becca, gravely ill, would not live through the night. Now, 10 years later, Becca is studying human motor control at the University of California at Berkeley in a Bioengineering and Neuroscience Ph.D. Program.

Several members of the Rider community are assisting Stoloff this year, including James Moore and Carren Klenke, director and assistant director of Performance Management, respectively; Steven Hitzel, manager of operations for Facilities Management at Westminster; Terri Renegar, administrative associate in Facilities Management at Westminster; the Westminster Piano faculty; and the Westminster Conservatory faculty and college students.  Patricia Landy of the Westminster Conservatory faculty spearheaded this effort for the first two years of the Children Helping Children Performathon event, and her family continues to be actively involved in all phases of the Performathon.