by Kim Burns
WHS is grieving the loss of staff member Mr. Raymond Wojcik, who passed away August 1. Wojcik was an influential educator, composer and conductor who is not only missed by the school community, but also by the scores of people who were touched by his music.
According to nj.com, Wojcik was born in Perth Amboy and graduated from Perth Amboy High School. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Music from Manhattan School of Music and his Master of Fine Arts from Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. With his wife Liza and daughter Celia, Wojcik resided in Califon.
In 1995, Wojcik was hired as an orchestra teacher at WHS and EIS. At WHS, Wojcik taught Writing and Arranging I Music Theory, Writing and Arranging II Music Theory, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Said senior Anastasia Smolenski, “When he was on stage, he would always be smiling, and you could just tell how passionate he was toward the department and his students.”
Wojcik inspired numerous students to become professional performers. Said alum Francis Wong, “Mr. Wojcik is half the reason why I felt confident enough to pursue music in college, and I know whenever I get up on stage to perform, I will always see him sitting in that front row where he sat during my senior solo.”
Outside of school, Wojcik was an active composer. According to his website, his albums Akin to Fire and Pictures and Stories were critically acclaimed. In addition, he had a three-year position as composer-in-residence at the Cape May Music Festival. His commissions include dozens of notable institutions, including the Palisades Virtuosi, Duo Fresco, The Conductors Institute at Bard and many more. Several orchestras have also performed his compositions, including the Grand Rapids Symphony, Bay-Atlantic Symphony, Colonial Symphony and Amadeus Orchestra.
In remembrance of Wojcik, the Palisade Virtuoso released a track, “Love and Joy,” which can be heard at palisadesvirtuoso.org. Donations in Wojcik’s memory can also be made towards Celia’s education. For more information, visit nj.com.