Plainfield Musical Club 125 Years

Please join us in our 1st Weekend Event of our Queen City October Music Festival !

Plainfield Arts Council at

First Unitarian Society 724 Park Ave, Plainfield, NJ

Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 5:00 PM

In-kind Donations, Many exciting events to come through-out the month of October

This year will mark the 125th birthday of the Plainfield Musical Club, one of the oldest such organizations in the state. The Club was organized in 1882 by a group of Plainfield musicians who wished to have a venue for both performing for one another and an opportunity for socializing. The Club met in members' homes, and in its early days was a highly formal occasion, with men wearing tuxedos and women long dresses.

Plainfield Musical Club meeting, photograph taken by Howard Rowe, circa 1930s

Today's club, in line with the times, is much more informal.and not limited to Classical Music. It does remain a private organization, but has spread out into the community. In addition to its October appearance at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, the Club's February and April meetings will be held at the Plainfield Public Library. These meetings will also display materials such as news stories and pictures which are archived in the library.

Plainfield Musical Club meeting, photograph taken by Howard Rowe, circa 1930s

In the early 1950's the Club began a scholarship program for graduating high school students who wished to pursue a career in music performance or teaching. Thanks to a bequest by Plainfield writer Adele deLeeuw, this year the Club was able to award a total of $1,400 to four talented young musicians from Plainfield and surrounding communities.

The Plainfield Musical Club welcomes new members. For those who do not play an instrument but enjoy listening to music, it has an Associate Membership. Those who wish to perform become Active Members. Anyone who may be interested in joining this organization should contact its President, Robert Paoli, by e-mail

Our Members

Susan Graham, Flute, graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her teachers include Robert Willoughby, Timothy Day, and James Scott. Graham has been performing for the past 25 years, both as soloist, a member of the Monmouth Symphony and the Orchestra of St. Peter’s by-the-sea, and as a founding member of the early music group, Ensemble Leonarda. She maintains an active private teaching studio and frequently gives master classes for high school students.

Beverly Weber, Piano, has served as piano accompanist to both singers and instrumentalists, including the Metropolitan opera tenor Ronald Naldi, among many others. She is an experienced church organist with over 60 years of experience.

Carolle-Ann Mochernuk, Piano,is a native of Canada and graduate of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. She has concertized on CBC radio, performing both solo and with orchestra. She continued studies with the renowned Rosina Lhevinne at Juiiliard School, and with master teacher George Kochevitsky in New York. Her debut took place at Town Hall, plus concerts on WNYC radio and television as well as several recitals at the library at Lincoln Center. She has performed in recitals in Canada, the US and Europe, including London's Wigmore Hall, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and other major music centers.

Robert Romano, Clarinet, graduated magna cum laude from SUNY at Stony Brook, where he studied with David Glazer. He also had the privilege of studying with Leon Russianoff and Charles Neidich of the Juilliard School. He has performed as a chamber soloist with the Rome Festival Orchestra and has played with the Milwaukee Civic Orchestra. He is a long-time member of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra and the Plainfield Musical Club.

Mr. Romano is an active chamber musician, working with vocal soloists, as well as instrumental chamber musicians, including performing with Mr. Neidich at the New York Yacht Club as part of the renowned Model Room Concerts series.

Wendy Romano, Bassoon, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she studied piano with Armand Basile (formerly of the Eastman School of Music) and Jeffry Peterson.

The bassoon captured Ms. Romano’s imagination at an early age. While at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee she studied bassoon with Robert Thompson, and later, post-graduate studies with Bernard Garfield of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Donald MacCourt of the New York City Ballet She has been a member of the Lake Forest Symphony in Illinois, the Milwaukee Civic Orchestra, the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, and the Rome Festival Orchestra. Wendy is a long-time member of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra and the Plainfield Musical Club. She is also active as an active free-lance and chamber musician.

Victoria Griswold, Piano, was characterized by the New York Times as “an elegant pianist with a fluent technique.” She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, and her principal teachers were Jeaneane Dowis, Zenon Fishbein, and William Nelson. She has recorded on the MMC label several new works for piano and orchestra by the American composer William Thomas McKinley with such European orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Warsaw Philharmonic. She also performed at the Assisi (Italy) Performing Arts Festival as both soloist and accompanist.

Ms. Griswold was a private piano teacher for 30 years, during which time she was also on the faculty of the Westminster Choir College Conservatory. She has adjudicated for many state competitions. She is currently the owner of the Plainfield (NJ) Music Store, a retail business specializing in print music.

Fred Fischer, Piano, grew up in Connecticut. While in high school, he attended the Juilliard School and studied with jazz pianist and educator John Mehegan. He took composition classes at the Mannes School in New York, and attended Boston University. In Boston, Fred studied classical piano with Margaret Chaloff (mother of sax player Serge Chaloff, one of the famed Four Brothers of the Woody Herman big band), whose students included jazz pianist George Shearing, and Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein.

Fred has been the Minister of Music at the United Church of Christ-Congregational Church in Plainfield for the past 30 years. For many years he was the Music Director and Conductor for the New Jersey Pro Musica Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, based in Scotch Plains, NJ. He is presently the Vice President and Program Chairman for the Plainfield Musical Club. Fred also teaches piano at his home studio in Scotch Plains, where he lives with his wife, Judy.

Lorne Graham, Trumpet, graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University. His teachers include Steven Hendrickson, Edward Hoffman and Vincent Cichowicz. Graham has performed in various classical and big band ensembles in New Jersey for the past 25 years.He manages the national band and orchestral instrument rental program at NEMC in Mountainside and also maintains a private teaching studio.

Guest Musicians

Ronald Thayer, Piano and Organ, is a pianist, organist, voice teacher and choral conductor. He actively performs in two-piano and piano-duet recitals with pianist Edwin Lopez and also as an organ soloist and accompanist. His recent performances with Mr. Lopez include, notably, a highly acclaimed concert in France, sponsored by La Ligue, the French national cancer society and CSF-France. Mr. Thayer received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in performance from the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey (USA), subsequently pursuing advanced organ studies with Dr. Alexander McCurdy and further vocal studies with Jake Gardner of the Tri-Cities Opera, Binghamton, New York. For seventeen years Ronald Thayer was the Chairman of Crescent Concerts, a monthly concert series in Central New Jersey (USA) while holding the post of Organist and Director of Sacred Music at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in the city of Plainfield. He was instrumental in helping to design and install the French Classique/Romantique 5,124-pipe Gilbert F. Adams organ at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, New Jersey.

Ron Thayer and Edwin Lopez have performed as ensemble pianists and organists for over twenty-three years and, during this period, they have researched and performed many neglected works for piano duo and piano duet as well as made many of their own ensemble arrangements.

Edwin Lopez, Piano, a true renaissance man, has followed a multi-faceted career, successfully reinventing himself at every exciting turn. He began playing the piano at age four and, even at that young age, was strong-minded enough to choose from among fifteen different piano teachers before deciding to study with the pianist/pedagogue Ernelia Gomez, under whose all-encompassing guidance, he would remain for many years.

Mr. Lopez and Mr. Thayer recently performed a highly acclaimed concert in France, under the sponsorship of La Ligue, the French cancer society and CSF-France. Edwin Lopez is currently the Director of Sacred Music and organist at St. John the Evangelist Church in Dunellen, New Jersey (USA).

Sheila Harris Jackson, Soprano, is a native of Franklin, Kentucky. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 1978 where she studied with Ohm Pauli. She subsequently attended the Curtis Institute of Music where she was a student of Todd Duncan, the original Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Dr. Vladamir Sokoloff and Sylvia Olden Lee.

Her career has allowed her to work with conductors Andrew Litton, Leonard Bernstein, Gian-Carlo Menotti and Christopher Keene. Other artists with whom she has collaborated include jazz pianist and educator Barry Harris, noted singer Roberta Flack and tenor George Shirley. She has concertized extensively throughout Europe and the United States, including a twenty-one concert tour of Italy.