Riley, a violinist, and the other young musicians performed Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” Riley, of Berkeley Heights, and one of the symphony’s longest-tenured members, later spoke at a gala celebrating the symphony’s 40th anniversary on May 19, 2019.
“As I look back at my 10 years with NJYS, I thought about what made my experience so great, what makes NJYS such a great organization, and it is the community: the devoted conductors who choose the best repertoires, the tireless administration, the students – my friends, the volunteers and parents dedicated to creating a supportive culture,” Riley said.
She also said the symphony has provided an environment where “a young person can feel good about who you are, how you play and learn.”
Helen Cha-Pyo, artistic director and conductor of the NJYS Youth Orchestra praised Riley for ability and commitment to the symphony.
“Mary’s journey with the New Jersey Youth Symphony is simply amazing. It’s rare to find a young person who has made a commitment to an organization consistently for 10 years as Mary has done,” Cha-Pyo said. “This is a testament to her wonderful talent, unwavering dedication and strong character of trustworthiness and integrity. We, at NJYS, are grateful to have been a part of her exemplary journey.”
Joan Paster, dean, grades 10 to 12, and Upper School history teacher, similarly lauded Riley, who has performed on multiple occasions at Oak Knoll.
“Her performances at Christmas and Spring Concerts, as well as Mass and other liturgies, will be remembered fondly,” Paster said.
Riley has also served as co-counselor of the Latin Club. In addition, she has been involved with “Aquila,” the school yearbook, the Women with Vision Club and the school’s varsity spring track program.
After graduating from Oak Knoll, Riley will continue her study of music, as well as business, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She will also take chamber music courses at the Cleveland Institute of Music.