From the beginning of his directorship of the Ocean City Pops Orchestra, William Scheible has introduced to concert audiences young, talented performers from across the tri-state area. Perhaps the best known is Stephen Costello, a former student of Scheible’s at Washington High School in Northeast Philadelphia, who was a featured tenor soloist on the Music Pier at the age of 16. Costello continued to perform with the Pops while studying at the University of the Arts and the Academy of Vocal Arts, both in Philadelphia. Audiences and musicians knew Costello had an outstanding future, which took off in the fall of 2007 when Costello made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Costello received the Richard Tucker Award, a prestigious prize given to an opera singer whose talent indicates a promising and major career.
In addition to tenor Stephen Costello, Director Scheible has introduced many other young instrumental and vocal soloists to Pops’ audiences. For example, in 1989, the Kwon sisters, Min and Yoon -- Min in her teens and Yoon age nine – astounded audiences with their musicianship. Since then, the sisters have performed as a duet and as soloists all over the world and have returned to Ocean City some summers – Min on piano and Yoon on violin - astounding the concert goers with their unbelievable talent.
Not to be overlooked is Ailyn Perez, a soprano and graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts, whom Director Scheible introduced to Pops’ audiences and to tenor Stephen Costello. The beautifully matched and pitched pair found time in their demanding career schedules to marry in 2008. They have performed together in Detroit with the Michigan Opera Theatre and in Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Opera Company. Perez was a featured soloist in July when the Pops performs Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana at the Hughes PAC center. Ailyn also received the Richard Tucker Award as she has unbelievable talent and is a rising star.
In 1988, Scheible introduced the highly successful Family Lollipop Concerts, and among the first guest artists for these concerts was Mr. McFeely from the nationally syndicated TV show Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood. These concerts have delighted youngsters (and orchestra members) and have been generously sponsored by Gillian’s Wonderland since their inception.
Responding to a request many years ago to extend the instruction of young musicians and cultivate a younger audience in the South Jersey region, Scheible arranged for a side-by-side instrumental concert experience with Ocean City High School musicians. For the past few years, the Pops Orchestra performed at OCHS and invited young musicians from both Atlantic and Cape May counties. On other occasions, various Pops’ ensembles visit students directly in their schools and conduct mini-workshops and, yes, even, “jam.” These outreach experiences, which vary annually, are funded by the Ruggieri Society and various grants. Music teachers, professional musicians, and the young novices look forward to these co-operative educational experiences each Fall.
Scheible has also established a long-lasting relationship with the International Strings Summer Camp, and the annual competition winner performs in a summer Pops concert at the Music Pier. Approximately 20-30 members of the Philadelphia Orchestra are involved in this exceptional summer music camp.
The Children’s Summer Musical Theater Camps have introduced children to stage performance. Children ages 8-16 train alongside professional actors/singers in planning and rehearsing for a fully staged Broadway musical production. More recently, this opportunity has developed into a separate theater camp underwritten by the City of Ocean City, and is part of the city’s summer recreational offerings for youth. In recent years, Michael Hartman has directed popular shows such as 42nd Street, Bye Bye Birdie, and Beauty and the Beast, and will team up with the Pops orchestra during the 2009 season to present Hello Dolly! in July and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in August.
Outreach endeavors to spotlight young, talented soloists, to extend instruction, and to develop stage presence in youngsters are just a few of the on-going activities of the Ocean City Pops Orchestra. Based on the success of Stephen Costello, Ailyn Perez, and the Kwon sisters, these outreach programs are, as kids say, “Awesome!”
For more information about these and other youth events, please call the Pops office at 609-525-9246, ext. 13.