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B i o g r a p h y

Helen H. Cha-Pyo is currently in her sixth season as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, New Jersey’s largest independent performing arts education organization, comprising four programs. Under her leadership, Wharton Arts serves close to 2,000 students from 12 different New Jersey counties through a range of private lessons and group classes at the Wharton Performing Arts School, 15 performing ensembles at the New Jersey Youth Symphony, 5 performing ensembles at the New Jersey Youth Chorus, and the Paterson Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired program that provides free after-school instrumental music instruction to over 450 children in Paterson, NJ.

 

For 16 years as Music Director and Conductor of the Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO), Cha-Pyo inspired hundreds of young musicians to perform at the highest levels, resulting in ESYO being recognized as one of the nation’s premier music organizations for youth musicians. She led the orchestra on three international tours: Europe in 2008, China and South Korea in 2012, and Portugal in 2016, and won the ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Awards for championing music by American composers. Cha-Pyo’s vision was instrumental in the founding of ESYO CHIME in 2015, a music education program dedicated to serving underprivileged youth of Schenectady and Troy, NY. In 2018, ESYO established the Helen Cha-Pyo Golden Baton Award and Scholarships for students who embody her passionate commitment to music as a means to uplift and enrich communities.

 

For her stature as an accomplished musician who inspires young people around the world, Cha-Pyo received The Dove Leadership Award from the David & Dovetta Wilson Scholarship Fund in 2019. She is also the recipient of the 2022 Angelos Artist Award from the Angelos Mission Ensemble, where she was honored for her passionate leadership and commitment to using music as a vehicle for social change. In 2022, Cha-Pyo also received the Eastman Centennial Award from Eastman School of Music, which is given to those who exemplify the school’s mission and legacy through their commitment to artistry, scholarship, leadership, community engagement, and/or philanthropy.

 

From 1996 to 2002, Cha-Pyo served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, as well as Associate Director of Music at The Riverside Church in New York City. She released three recordings with the Riverside Choir. (JAV Recordings)

 

Born in Seoul, Cha-Pyo immigrated to the US when she was 12. She studied piano and organ at the Pre-College Program at The Juilliard School. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music in Conducting and Organ Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Cha-Pyo is a frequent guest conductor and clinician for All-State and Regional Festival Orchestras throughout the country. She served as Visiting Associate Professor of Conducting at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University (NJ) and Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (NJ). She currently serves as a board member for the Youth Orchestra Division and is also a committee member of the Conductors Constituency Leadership of the League of American Orchestras. Cha-Pyo is the life partner of Dr. Daniel J. Pyo and a proud parent of their two sons. Read more at helenchapyo.com.

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Photo: © Kimberly M. Wang | @eardogfoto | eardog.com

Short Biography

Helen H. Cha-Pyo is currently in her sixth season as the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. Under her leadership, Wharton Arts has flourished into an organization serving nearly 2,000 students from 13 New Jersey counties. She oversees four cornerstone programs: the Wharton Performing Arts School, New Jersey Youth Symphony, New Jersey Youth Chorus, and the Paterson Music Project. As the driving force behind the New Jersey Youth Symphony, she has orchestrated international tours to Italy and France, expanded the jazz program, and dedicated herself to amplifying the voices of underrepresented composers through innovative concert programming and new commissions, supported by prestigious grants from organizations like New Music USA and Chorus America. Cha-Pyo and NJYS Chamber Orchestra will return to Carnegie Hall next month to perform at the 2024 Juneteenth Celebration concert.

 

Previously, Cha-Pyo held the position of Music Director and Conductor of the Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) for 16 years. She led ESYO on three international tours and founded ESYO’s CHIME program, providing music education for underprivileged youth in Schenectady, NY. ESYO established the Helen Cha-Pyo Golden Baton Award and Scholarships for students who embody her passionate commitment to music as a means to uplift and enrich communities.

 

Cha-Pyo is a sought-after guest conductor and clinician for All-State and Regional Festival Orchestras throughout the country. This summer, she will conduct at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (TN). She served as a Visiting Associate Professor of Conducting at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University (NJ), and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (NJ).

 

For her stature as an arts leader who inspires young people around the world, Cha-Pyo received The Dove Leadership Award, the Angelos Artist Award, and the Eastman Centennial Award for her commitment to creating access and equity in music education for young people.

 

She currently serves as a board member for the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras and contributes as a mentor at Girls Who Conduct. For more about Helen Cha-Pyo, visit helenchapyo.com.

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