Monday, December 27, 2021


New Jersey Youth Symphony member Ryoma Takenaga of New Providence, NJ, from the Academy for Information Technology, has received a 2022 YoungArts Award in Jazz

Recognized at the Honorable Mention level, the organization’s second highest honor, Takenaga has been recognized for his caliber of achievement and joins 720 of the most accomplished young visual, literary and preforming artists from throughout the county. 

Selected through the organization’s prestigious competition, YoungArts award winners, all 15–18 years old or in grades 10–12, are chosen for their artistic achievement by esteemed discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States, in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative and professional development support throughout their entire careers. A complete list of the 2022 winners is available online at

“We are thrilled to announce this year’s YoungArts award winners—an extraordinary group of promising, accomplished young artists—and congratulate each of them on this exciting milestone in their artistic careers,” said Executive Director Jewel Malone. “YoungArts empowers artists to pursue a life in the arts beginning at the critical time when many are faced with decisions about life after high school. We are proud to support these young artists at the beginning of their journeys and look forward to becoming a resource for them at all stages of their careers.”

YoungArts award winners become eligible for exclusive creative and professional development support including a wide range of fellowships, residencies and awards; microgrants and financial awards; virtual and in-person presentation opportunities in collaboration with major venues and cultural partners nationwide; and access to YoungArts Post, a free, private online platform for YoungArts artists to connect, collaborate and discover new opportunities.

Said Takenaga, “I enjoy the sense of community that I have found in the jazz world. Early on, I realized that the bassist holds a big responsibility in the band. We are responsible for listening to all the voices of the band while interacting with bandmates to maintain the harmonic and rhythmic structure. While being the driving force of the music, as bassist I must simultaneously put the voices of others forward. This has allowed me to grow as a jazz musician. I truly enjoy performing with others and also enjoy my role as a Teaching Assistant for the New Jersey Youth Symphony Big Band.”

Takenaga, who has been playing the upright bass for eight years and a member of the NJYS Jazz Orchestra since 2018, has received numerous accolades including Regional Essentially Ellington Outstanding Soloist & Outstanding Rhythm Section Award (2018); National Charles Mingus Competition Outstanding Soloist & Mingus Spirit Award (2019); National Young Arts Award Honorable Mention (2022 and 2021); New Jersey All-State Jazz Band (2021); and was selected for the National Youth Orchestra Jazz (2021), where he performed on the album We're Still Here featuring the great Melissa Aldana and Sean Jones. He has appeared at the ShapeShifter Lab with Ravi Coltrane, Marcus Gilmore, Matt Garrison + Emilio Modeste Quintet; at the Friars Club with the Antoine Roney Trio; and at the Kumamoto Japan Jazz Festival. He currently plays with his jazz band, the Baker Street Trio, with Ben Schwartz and Ben Collins-Siegel. The trio recently opened for the Bernie Williams-Gil Parris Quartet and the Montclair Jazz Festival. Takenaga was featured in Jersey Jazz Magazine as "The Bright Future of Jazz."

As a YoungArts award winner, Takenaga joins a distinguished group of accomplished arts such as Daniel Arsham, Terence Blanchard, Camille A. Brown, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Amanda Gorman, Judith Hill, Jennifer Koh, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Andrew Rannells, Desmond Richardson and Hunter Schafer

The YoungArts competition is open to artists 15-18 years old (or in grades 10 – 12). For more information about becoming a YoungArts award winner click here.

Thank you to the generous donors who have contributed $40,000 or more to YoungArts programming as we celebrate YoungArts’ 40th anniversary, including Aon; Micky & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation; Sarah Arison & Thomas Wilhelm; Jill Baufman & Daniel Nir; Tracey Corwin; Jeffrey Davis & Michael Miller; Natalie Diggins & Oren Michels; Givenchy; Agnes Gund; Hearst Foundations; Michi & Charles Jigarjian / 7G Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Richard & Amy Kohan; Leslie & Jason Kraus; Steven & Oxana Marks; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; Northern Trust Bank; Prada; PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Sidney and Florence Stern Family Foundation; Sandra & Tony Tamer; Bruce & Ellie Taub; and Truist Wealth.

About YoungArts

YoungArts was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts and provide them with creative and professional development opportunities throughout their careers. Entrance into this prestigious organization starts with a highly competitive application process for talented artists ages 15–18, or grades 10–12 in the United States.

For more information, visit, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS), founded in 1979, is a tiered orchestral program offering ensemble education for students in grades 3-12 across New Jersey. NJYS has grown from one orchestra of 65 students to over 500 students in 15 different orchestras and ensembles, including the internationally recognized NJYS Youth Symphony. NJYS ensembles have performed in venues including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Carnegie Hall, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. NJYS has received numerous prestigious awards for its adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and has had six European tours, including participation in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival and Competition (Vienna), winning First Prizes in July 2014 and 2017.

Now in its 43rd season, NJYS continues to achieve musical excellence through intensive instruction and high-level performance. Under the guidance of a talented team of conductors, coaches, and teaching artists, students are immersed in challenging repertoire, learning the art of ensemble playing, and exploring their potential in a supportive and inclusive environment. NJYS remains committed to programming works by diverse composers and regularly features 20th century African American and women composers such as Duke Ellington, George Walker, Yvonne Desportes, Emma Lou Diemer, Julia Perry, and Florence Price.

The New Jersey Youth Symphony is a program of the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts. Wharton is New Jersey’s largest non-profit performing arts education organization serving over 1,500 students of all ages and abilities through a range of classes and ensembles. In addition to the New Jersey Youth Symphony, programs include the Paterson Music Project and Performing Arts School. For more information, visit