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East Orange Performing Arts School Wins Big at Tennessee Music Festival

East Orange

By: Richard L. Smith 

An Essex County performing arts school in East Orange has struck gold -and silver- after their band was victorious in a nationwide competition in The State of Tennessee over the weekend. 


Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School has done it again. The school's talented band won two prestigious awards at the 2023 Heritage Worldstrides Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. 

According to the event's organizers, Cicely Tyson competed against more than a dozen other bands from across the United States, including California, Michigan, Illinois, Virginia Beach, and East Orange, NJ. 

The band's director, Dr. Oscar Petty Jr., has led the talented 9-12 grade students to another successful year at the festival. The band's hard work and dedication have paid off, as they took home high honors in their respective categories.


Organizers said the ensembles are critiqued on Performance, skill ability, repertoire, and interpretation of masterpieces for bands, orchestras, marching bands, and chamber choirs.

The Heritage Worldstrides Music Festival is one of the most prestigious music competitions in the United States. It provides a platform for talented musicians to showcase their skills and compete against other bands nationwide.

Winning a gold or silver award at the festival is a significant accomplishment for any band.

Dr. Petty is a renowned music director who has been leading the Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School's band for several years. Born and raised in Newark, Dr. Petty graduated from Arts High School.

He received his early musical training in the Newark Community School of the Arts, founded in 1968. Dr. Petty received his Master's and Doctorate degrees from Rutger's Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick. 


He has a passion for music and a commitment to helping his students reach their full potential. His leadership has inspired the students to push themselves to achieve excellence in their performances.

The Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School's band is renowned for excellence in music performance. The band has consistently performed high in various competitions and events.

The exceptional program has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in NYC and for The City of Chicago in spring 2024. 

This year's success at the Heritage Worldstrides Music Festival is a testament to the band's hard work and dedication.

Dr. Petty expressed his pride in the band's achievement, stating: 

"the Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School is dedicated to providing our students with the best opportunities to excel in their chosen fields. We are thrilled that our band has been recognized for their exceptional talent and hard work at the Heritage Worldstrides Music Festival."

The Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School's band's success is a source of pride for the entire Essex County community.

A vast supporter of the performing and visual arts, AbdulSaleem Hasan, Ed.S., superintendent for the East Orange School, has made noticeable changes to how the students and instructors experience arts education across the district. 

The district and Cicely Tyson Performing Arts School artists have shown that anything is possible with dedication, hard work, and passion.