Foundation Collegiate Academy Scholar-Musicians Perform at Historic Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University 

Foundation Collegiate Academy performs at Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University

On December 19, our Foundation Collegiate Academy (FCA) students performed their Winter Orchestra Concert at the historic Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall, Princeton University. 

Opened in 1894, Richardson Auditorium has hosted a wide range of events over its long history, including lectures, meetings, commencement ceremonies, religious services, as well as pep and political rallies. In 1985, it was extensively renovated to become the 891-seat concert hall it is today. According to Princeton University, Buddy Graham, a six-time Grammy Award winner and one of the most highly-regarded engineers for symphonic recording in the late 20th century listed Richardson Auditorium as one of the world’s acoustically “great” concert halls. With 128 of Foundation Collegiate Academy’s scholar-musicians participating, Richardson Auditorium was an incredible opportunity for our scholars to play their hearts out after months of intense preparation. 

“Performing at Richardson Auditorium was an inspiring experience for our students,” said Ryan Kiple, Strings Program Director. “I not only detect a feeling of healthy pride when I reminisce with them, but I also observe a revitalized sense of motivation. I can see that they want to continue to work hard and improve so that they can share their power of music-making at the highest level possible.”

We were also delighted to welcome FCA alum Justin Polanco (‘19) as the master of ceremonies for the concert, as well as several other Class of 2019 members in the audience, there to support their former classmates. Featuring performances from the FCA Duo, the FCA Sophomore Quartet, the 9th Grade Orchestra, and the FCA Youth Orchestra, the evening was a beautiful culmination of all the hard work put in by our scholar-musicians. 

FCA Class of 2019 Alum Justin Polanco jokes with Strings Program Director Ryan Kiple during the concert
FCA Class of 2019 Alum Justin Polanco (right) jokes with Strings Program Director Ryan Kiple (left) as part of his duties as Master of Ceremonies.

The best surprise was saved for last, as Foundation Academies CEO Graig Weiss took to the stage to announce that the Janice B. and Milford D. Gerton/Arts & Letters Foundation had generously awarded Foundation Academies a $180,000 grant to expand the Strings Program. The grant funds will allow strings education to begin in Grade 3 (a full year earlier than the current program), as well as to equip every student with their own take-home instrument. 

CEO Graig Weiss announces the Arts & Letters grant award
CEO Graig Weiss announces the Arts & Letters grant award that will help Foundation Academies expand the Strings Program.

“Our students understand that performing music is a power, and that they essentially hold that power when they hold an instrument in their hands,” said Mr. Kiple. “This grant ensures that every student in our music program will be able to hold that power. Every student will be able to take an instrument home for practice, thereby empowering them to learn and grow without any limitations. As a teacher, I am extremely grateful to the Arts & Letters Foundation.”

Memorable milestone performance experiences like this are made possible for our students thanks to the generous support of a wide range of organizations and individuals. Special thanks go to The Friends of Foundation Academy, Inc. Board of Directors’ member Tony Klockenbrink and the Princeton University Office of Regional and Community Affairs to reserve this world-class stage, the Nassau Presbyterian Church for providing space for our students to prepare and practice, and for Mr. Alexander Zbinden for assisting with instrument maintenance throughout the school year. Thanks go to our concert sponsors: the Jonathan Krist Foundation, RBC Wealth Management, Jacqui Griffith, and Holberg Financial, as well as to our Foundation Collegiate Academy teachers and staff for supporting our scholars as they prepared for this momentous occasion. Last and certainly not least, our deepest gratitude to the Janice B. and Milford D. Gerton/Arts & Letters Foundation for their generosity, and for believing in the power of music and the promise of our students. 

Foundation Collegiate Academy performing at Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University,
Students smile on stage after hearing the cheers of families and peers in the audience.

Congratulations, scholars, on your excellent performance!

Click below to watch a video of a performance by the FCA Youth Orchestra.

There is also a concert photo gallery posted just below the video.

Video not working? Click here to view at an alternate link.

Photo Gallery

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Michelle Lawlor

Michelle Lawlor, Marketing and Communications Associate, spearheads Foundation Academies’ marketing and communication efforts. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Multimedia Communications from Rider University.