Walter Engel (1955 - 2007) was a musician, poet, and painter from northern New Jersey. He was a dynamic young conductor with a burgeoning international career when a massive stroke left him paralyzed and unable to pursue that particular passion. Not to be swayed from a life in the arts, however, Walter continued to fill his life with beauty. He wrote poetry, composed, consulted with musicians on the art of performance and continued to inspire young people in their pursuit of musical excellence. For several years he painted using his wheelchair as his paintbrush. His artwork was on display at seven shows, including such venues as Johnson & Johnson Headquarters and the United Nations.
The Festival of Young Performers was created in 1991 to honor Walter, who never forgot the role of music in his own development and who had worked in his early years with musicians young and not-so-young in the New Jersey Philharmonic, The Ridgewood Chamber Orchestra, All-State and Regional youth orchestras.
Although Walter passed away in 2007, his spirit lives on at FYP. Now in its 23rd year, the festival has held more than 60 concerts and has awarded dozens of scholarships to excellent young musicians who share their gifts through musical outreach.
"Life can change, but isn’t it wonderful that music can be a constant companion and teacher." Walter Engel