News and Press


Winter, 2022


Dear Friends,


We at Music For All Seasons are officially beginning our Fourth Decade with lots of exciting news!

Thank you for being a loyal friend and supporter of Music For All Seasons (MFAS).  We are writing to ask you to partner with us again this year as we bring the joy and healing power of music to an even broader group of recipients.

Last summer, transitioning back to in-person programs, we took a new songwriting program into a homeless shelter, and teens ages 14-19 were able to write and sing about being homeless, and their life experiences. “This is so exciting,” said 17-year old ‘Maya’, as we recorded her voice and her words, cheered on by her fellow residents and two MFAS musician/facilitators who were guiding her in expressing her feelings through music. “I didn’t know I could sing.  This feels so powerful.”

Over and over in the past few months, we have watched people whose lives have been difficult find an emotional outlet through music.  We are proud to help, and heartened to see our programs return in-person after two years of Zoom and video. MFAS programs have been taking place in institutions including shelters for victims of domestic violence, senior centers, hospitals and hospices, nursing homes, and many other locations—an average of twelve programs every month!

As always, we are honored to have your partnership in our work! We are launching our 2022 Year-End campaign on GIVING TUESDAY, November 29, and we hope you will help us continue — and expand — our programs in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and California.  With your partnership, we can reach this year’s goal of $50,000 to match our renewed Voices of Empowerment grant for 2022/2023 from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts’ “Arts Education Special Initiative (AESI),” as well as our National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored programs for children living in shelters for victims of domestic violence.

We are thrilled to welcome Peter Hill, our new Senior Director, who comes from a strong musical and administrative background and joined our administration on November 1st. We also thank Steve Rodner and Helen Paxton for their five years of service as co-chairs. They recently stepped down as co-chairs but will continue to serve as Trustees. Board members Kirsten Thien and Nick Young have just been voted in as the new co-chairs.

Let me tell you a little about some of the good things that have happened during the past few months.  Many of you celebrated our 30th anniversary with us at an amazing and moving event at the Grammy Museum featuring songs of Voices of Valor performed by our professional musicians and veteran participants. This was followed by a hockey game between the New Jersey Devils and the Montreal Canadiens during which we were featured on the jumbotron! (See attached news clipping.)

We have recently established an exciting new partnership with Montclair State University’s Cali Collective Ensemble, mentoring MSU graduate students in MFAS programs.

With generous help from government, corporate, foundation, and individual donors, we have made great strides in serving new populations, while maintaining programs in the broad variety of facilities we have served for many years. We provide programs for children and for teens living in homeless shelters, and launched a season of six sessions of Voices of Empowerment, inspiring and changing the lives of teens in juvenile detention centers.  They sang and rapped their lyrics and recorded their own original music.

Please give generously! This year, all donors of $250 and above will be entered into a drawing for a program in your name by MFAS musicians in the facility or location of your choice (which could be your own home!).

When you use the enclosed reply envelope: fill it out and know you will be helping many people to experience the healing power of music this year. If you are interested in giving a gift of stocks or securities, or in legacy giving, please call us at 908 322-6300.  You can also donate online: simply go to and click on “Make a donation.” Or you can join our Give Butter campaign.  And remember that you can always donate in honor or memory of a loved one. Remember that many corporations for which you may work will match your charitable donations.  Check out Benevity and/or Bright Funds – we are registered with both.

We are grateful that you are a part of our Music For All Seasons family! We wish you and your loved ones a healthy and happy Holiday Season.



Brian Dallow

Executive Director



365 DAYS A YEAR.  CALL 1-800-273-8255 AND PRESS 1. 


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P.S. As you shop online this Holiday Season, use Amazon’s charity site,, and select

Music for All Seasons as your charity. You’ll enjoy the same great shopping experience as the regular Amazon site, while Amazon makes a small contribution from your purchases to MFAS. Every dollar counts!







(SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ, Oct. 11, 2022) — Co-founders Brian Dallow, executive director; and Rena Fruchter, artistic director, of Plainfield, NJ, along with the Board of Trustees of Music For All Seasons (MFAS) are pleased to announce new leadership for the organization, now in its 31st season of service.      

Kirsten Thien of New York City and Nicholas Young of Philadelphia, Pa., have been elected co-chairs of MFAS, succeeding co-chairs Steven Rodner, Esq. of South Orange, NJ and Helen Paxton of Montclair, NJ, both of whom will continue serving as trustees.  In addition, Peter Hill of Fanwood, NJ, has been appointed senior director of MFAS.

Based in New Jersey, MFAS presents numerous and varied programs in its home state, and in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and California. MFAS has a proud mission of fostering human interaction and healing through the art of live musical performance.  Services are delivered to youth at risk, veterans (with its award-winning Voices of Valor program), seniors, and in hospitals and hospices. 

MFAS recently entered into a new partnership with the Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. This fall experienced MFAS professional musicians began training and coaching graduate students in alternative services designed for healing through music.                                                                          

Kirsten Thien, a resident of New York City, has been associated with MFAS as a musician facilitator since 2014, leading sessions with MFAS’ Voices of Valor and Voices of Empowerment initiatives, and presenting programs at a Women and Children’s safe haven shelter.  She joined the MFAS board in 2021 and has been actively engaged in planning and fundraising. A graduate of Georgetown University Business School, she serves as a senior manager in IT at Columbia University, where she supports the research and grant-funded community through software application management, process improvement through technology, systems integration, and support for operational and strategic reporting systems. In addition, Kirsten maintains a busy schedule as a singer and songwriter. Her five albums on Screen Door Records have received wide acclaim, and she has toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe extensively as a musician. Her most recent release, “Two Sides,” took #13 in the Roots Music Report “Best of 2020” contemporary blues charts. “I’ve seen first-hand the transformative power of MFAS programs,” Kirsten noted, “– the joy on the veterans’ faces, as they perform or listen back to their own song-creations; and the vibrance and camaraderie of teens in detention as they come together to write a song about their experiences and plans for a better life.  I look forward to working with an even deeper commitment to MFAS on the growth of our mission and reach.”

Nicholas Young, a resident of Philadelphia, Pa., serves full-time as a Chief Public Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer, US Army. He brings years of experience in media creation, media relations and music industry connections to his work with MFAS, where he has been a board trustee since 2015. In addition to his military service, Nick also has a burgeoning career in the recording industry with his band Epoch Failure, which is signed to North Star Media in Detroit, Michigan. The band’s music has been heard in commercials, television shows, movies, sports broadcasts, and for online promotional spots with notable uses by ESPN, NFL Network, Swisse Australia, MTV, VH1, Oxygen, NASCAR, and NBC. Nick joined the team of musician facilitators in 2022 for MFAS’ Voices of Empowerment program, working with at-risk youth in juvenile detention centers. He is pleased with the chance to take on a bigger role in the future success of MFAS, as co-chair. “Music For All Seasons is an organization built on principles that I hold dear,” Nick says, “I believe in the power of music and the therapeutic effects for all who listen and create it.”

Newly appointed (as of Nov. 1) Senior Director Peter Hill, a resident of Fanwood, NJ, will bring a wealth of musical and organizational experience to MFAS.  Peter has served as director of music in Methodist, Presbyterian, and RCA churches.                                                                                         

Peter served as director of choirs for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, CA, and has teaching and administrative experience with the All-Saints Episcopal Day School, Hoboken, NJ., the Cleveland Music School Settlement, the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, NJ; and with the Suburban Music Study Club in Middlesex County, NJ, where he serves as president. He has also directed the Carter Burden Singers, a community chorus of the Carter Burden Network in East Harlem. Peter holds a master of music degree in piano performance and a professional studies diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music; a master of education in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a bachelor’s degree in music from Bucknell University. Commenting on the next phase of his career, Peter said: “Throughout my career, I’ve dedicated my skills to serving others through music, so I am thrilled to join the team of MFAS and to support the mission of bringing music to where it is needed most.” 


Music For All Seasons’ programs are made possible with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and with additional support from numerous foundation, corporate, and individual donors.   More information can be found at





30th Anniversary and Grammy Museum Event

Mind, body and soul: Music For All Seasons helps NJ veterans, kids, seniors and more

Chris Jordan

Asbury Park Press

The group celebrated its 30th anniversary on March 27 with a concert by participants of its Voices of Valor program at the Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark.

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Voices of Valor featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer

The song began coming to life on Zoom, and later, in the parking lot of the Red Lion Diner in Southampton.

Masked and seated apart at safe distances, eight singers — all of them veterans, seniors, and women of color — linked lyrics into lines and threaded strands of melody into verses.

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Jewish Women’s Foundation

Voices of Valor, an award-winning, innovative, song-writing initiative for veterans, was founded eight years ago by Music For All Seasons co-directors Brian Dallow and Rena Fruchter and is based in Scotch Plains. It is the first of three programs supported this year by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey (JWFNJ), a donor-advised fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

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Music For All Seasons’ Voices of Valor Program Receives New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award

In a ceremony in Trenton, New Jersey on May 19, 2019, MFAS’ Voices of Valor program was recognized for its extraordinary service to the community with the 2019 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service. In its 2018/19 New Jersey program, Voices of Valor has been offering programs to the veterans at Lyons Hospital, Lyons, NJ; Veteran’s Haven North, Glen Gardner, NJ; Veteran’s Haven South in Hammonton, NJ; and several other locations for the past eight years. The program pairs military veterans with professional musicians and psychology mentors in a nine-week session that helps veterans reintegrate into civilian life through group songwriting and recording. During this period the veterans share their experiences and work with the musicians to create the songs enabling the process of healing.  In week eight, the songs are recorded in a studio, followed by a CD release party in week nine.

(Left) MFAS Artistic Director Rena Fruchter and Executive Director Brian Dallow at the ceremony in Trenton, NJ.

Music For All Seasons Receives Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Music For All Seasons (MFAS) is proud to announce they have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for fiscal year 2021. MFAS has been an NEA recipient for the past seventeen years. 

MFAS has received an NEA Arts Works grant of $15,000 to provide live, interactive musical programs in shelters serving children who are victims of domestic violence in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California. The NEA is an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. 

In addition, MFAS was one of a small number of recipients to be awarded a special grant of $50,000 to assist with COVID-19 programming and costs.

Voices of Valor Receives Award from Veteran’s Haven

Scotch Plains, NJ (December 2016) — Voices of Valor®, an award-winning program to help veterans heal through musical expression was honored with a special, first-ever “My Brother’s Keeper Award” by Veteran’s Haven North, a transitional housing program for homeless veterans, located in Glen Gardner, NJ.


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Voices Of Valor' Helps Veterans Heal Through Music

By SAMANTHA HENRY 12/28/12 03:00 AM ET EST

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — During stressful times as a combat medic in Afghanistan, Mason Sullivan found solace in Vivaldi. New Jersey native Nairobi Cruz was comforted by country music, a genre she had never heard before joining the Army. For Jose Mercedes, it was an eclectic iPod mix that helped him cope with losing an arm during a tour of duty in Iraq.

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Spyro Gyra guitarist finds working with Voices of Valor to be a life-changing experience

Written by Julio Fernandez, Voices of Valor facilitator For the NJ Courier

I have been the guitarist with the Grammy-nominated jazz group Spyro Gyra for three decades, recording more than 20 albums and touring all over the world, playing for audiences of thousands. So what has drawn me to the Voices of Valor project, where I get to work in an intimate setting with small groups of veterans, writing songs?

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A Healing Art

By: BYRON JANIS Updated May 7, 2014 6:55 p.m.ET

Can music heal? There’s been a great deal of study by neuroscientists on the different ways music acts upon the brain, affecting our behavior, memory and the like. But there is also growing scientific evidence attesting to its curative powers.

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Helping veterans get back into the beat of civilian life.

By Peggy McGlone/The StarLedger Friday, October 14, 2011

John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger Tom Hankerson of Levittown, PA listens to drum circle instructor Richard Reiter during a program
called “Voices of Valor” that helps returning vets relieve and manage stress through music and songwriting. The program takes place inside the Rutgers student center in New Brunswick.

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Voices of Valor helps vets transition through music

Written by Bob Makin For the NJ Courier News and Home News Tribune/Asbury Park Press

SCOTCH PLAINS — For the 27th time in less than two years, Voices of Valor is about to release a song recording that helped a group of veterans release the emotional wounds of war and other issues related to military service.

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Lorin Maazel interview

On the verge of his final days at the New York Philharmonic, and with a new summer festival up his sleeve, Lorin Maazel chats with Nancy Shear at Steinway Hall.

Lorin Maazel first waved a stick in front of the New York Philharmonic in 1942, at the jaw-dropping age of twelve. His preternatural talent for leading musicians had been noticed and mentored in two of the cities where he lived as a boy, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and the dramatic result was his appearance at Manhattan’s Lewisohn Stadium, then the Philharmonic’s summer venue.

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J&J & SAH Award

WASHINGTON, DC, February 12, 2008 – Today, the Johnson & Johnson/Society for the Arts in Healthcare partnership announced the 2008 award recipients of the annual grant program, designed to bridge the gap between illness and health and promote the use of the arts to enhance the healthcare experience for patients, their families and caregivers.

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NEA funding

An outdoor jazz festival presented by Jazz House Kids in Montclair, a Wagner opera in Princeton and in-school dance residencies in East Orange are among 15 New Jersey projects that will share $284,500 from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Distinguished British Cellist to Head Music For All Seasons Advisory Board

Music For All Seasons is pleased to announce that Steven Isserlis CBE, has been elected President of the Board of Advisors, a position founded and previously held by Dudley Moore.

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Scotch Plains Non-Profit Offers Music As Therapy

By Rachel Gillett (Open Post) Updated August 9, 2012 at 2:40 am

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded more than $450,000 in grants to Union County arts organizations and projects last week.

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First "Respite For Caregivers" musical program given in Union County

Scotch Plains, NJ: On Thursday October 18, Music for all Seasons gave the first performance in its new Respite for Caregivers program at the home of Ethel and Harold Mayland in Union, New Jersey. The Ebbets Field Trio, composed of David Hattner, clarinet, Gill Dejean, bassoon, and Meighan Stoops, clarinet, performed for an hour, in a program bringing live music into the home of a couple who were celebrating the combined occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary and her 84th birthday.

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