Sandy Cameron with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- The four most iconic notes in classical music – Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 – will initiate New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s exciting new program for the 2023-2024 season. The new series promises some milestone celebrations and a variety of spectacular concerts, balancing perennial favorite events and familiar giants of the classical music repertoire with some intriguing lesser-known fare sure to enthrall.
The season also features a magnificent roster of internationally-acclaimed guest soloists including Metropolitan Opera star Errin Brooks, Jeremy Brauner and Mackenzie Whitney. Concerts also include dancers from Dance Theatre of Harlem and guest choirs and choruses from throughout New Jersey. And, after playing a part in launching her career, NJFO welcomes back now renowned Cirque de Soleil violin star Sandy Cameron for a long awaited reunion. Presiding over the repertoire is UK-born Maestro David Wroe, who has just celebrated 25 years as NJFO conductor and Music Director.
Commented Wroe, “Our new program looks like the bulging schedule of the pre-Covid days! Without a doubt, we at NJFO are back on a roll, carried forward by what I believe to be an eclectic, refreshing, and boldly-crafted program and an unmatched enthusiasm from our audiences.”
The NJFO season kicks off dramatically with a watershed celebration of NJFO’s 250th concert performance entitled "Two Mighty Fifths." The concert juxtaposes Beethoven's relentless, triumphant and most famous symphony and with a balm to soothe the spirits, Vaughan Williams' contemplative 5th Symphony, completing a 'yin-yang' cycle. There are two weekend performances to choose from: Friday October 6th at 7:00pm at St Helen’s Church in Westfield (new venue) and Sunday, October 8th at 3:00pm at Drew University in Madison.
Audiences are invited to welcome in the holiday season with some of New Jersey’s most popular musical traditions. On December 9 and 10, NJFO presents The Three Holiday Tenors, featuring renowned tenor fare, stratospheric high notes, symphonic pops, and wintertime favorites guaranteed to make the season merry and bright. This year’s celebration welcomes back award-winning Metropolitan Opera tenor Errin Brooks, fresh off Met Opera’s Fire Shut Up in my Bones. Many will remember Mr. Brooks also starred to huge acclaim in NJFO’s 2021 movie New Beginnings.
The holiday festivities continue as NJFO rings in the New Year with a superb song and dance show, The Great American Songbook, featuring Broadway guest vocalists and Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Da’Von Doane and friends who gather to recreate the magic of MGM musicals and more.
Another eagerly awaited annual event is NJFO's special interpretation of staged opera, this time Lucia di Lammermoor. Think Brigadoon meets Macbeth! A cast of internationally-acclaimed guest performers assembled from Maestro Wroe’s extensive contacts in European and American opera houses joins NJFO to present, acted and in costume, Donizetti's haunting tale of love and madness.
Ludwig Van Beethoven bookends NJFO's 2023-2024 series, as the season comes to a glorious conclusion with “Ode to Joy” featuring Beethoven’s heroic 9th symphony, the European Union's symbol of unity and peace. Partnering with multiple choral groups from throughout New Jersey, this season finale celebrates the 200 year performance anniversary of this monumental work and completes the message of resilience and hope in the face of current challenging political environments and in the aftermath of Covid.
Summarized Wroe, “Our season features a deftly synchronized presentation of two of Beethoven's greatest works. It’s a journey from darkness into light, leaving us renewed, refreshed and invigorated. I can’t wait for the new season to begin!”
Pianist Yifei Xu
NJFO operations director and concert pianist Yifei Xu will conduct a pre-concert lecture before some concerts, offering compelling insights and information one hour before performances. Her lectures enrich the live concert experience and are an engaging way to learn about the showcased music and music makers. Lectures are open to all ticket holders, free of charge.
Look out for concerts taking place at a variety of new venues including St. Helen’s Church in Westfield and The Renaissance Church in Springfield. Sunday afternoon concerts continue at the Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison.