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We’ve been privileged to work with the Women’s Association of NJPAC, sponsors of their annual fundraiser, for three years now, creating thematic presentations and awards recognition modules. We’ve also been able to provide a bunch a related production services, and even the “voice of God” announcer one year, too!
But for us, the real treasure is our collaborative production workflow. Executive Director Gail P. Stone briefs us on the intended message… the subtleties and subtexts; and then provides access to hand-picked interviewees and B-roll opportunities. Our contribution is the look and feel… the “texture”… of each individual shoot, followed by a completely independent turn at picking and choosing content to match both the style and substance of the message. Intensive tweaking and polishing is completely collaborative, and Gail boldly asserts the WA’s goals while bending to style and showmanship; and the result is a show-stopping experience which immerses the Gala audience in the true spirit of the evening.
For us, highlights of the 2011 experience included the chance to meet and work with two amazing young artists on a few different occasions. Dancer Roman Cruz told us his amazing story — a months-long seizure-induced coma at the age of 2, followed by years of gains and losses to epilepsy; and a triumphant victory as his years of intense dance training result in a full Julliard scholarship… one of only 24 dancers admitted that year. And Patricio Molina, a Chilean piano prodigy at age three, shared the story of his journey through NJPAC’s Arts Education programs to begin to realize his full potential… a brilliant performing career, now supplemented by a composer credit — a Spanish-language, full-length opera which draws on Chilean stories and folklore.
We also met and interviewed two remarkable adults whose everyday lives are touched by the arts. Michelle Lee is a regional president in the Wells Fargo bank organization, but who might instead have sought out an operatic vocal career if she’d had her way. But her arts training, she argues, stood her in good stead to be recognized as a bright and creative leader in the business world; and in her leisure time, music sustains and nurtures her even today. And Victor Parsonnet, MD, who hosted our interview, along with his wonderful wife, Jane, in their lovely home, told tales of growing up in a house made alive by music. “I challenge you to a sonata!” was his father’s nightly rejoinder; and from those roots sprang New Jersey’s highest-profile heart surgeon, as well as a part-time, very private, classical pianist. Soothed and refreshed by Bach and Brahms, he found time for dozens of arts-related avocations, including a 17-year stint as NJPAC’s Trustee Chair.
A new NJPAC Gala year, new themes, new faces to interview and interface with — but one thing remains the same: The experiences encountered in production have changed us, irrevocably, and for the better.