WESTFIELD, NJ — “This season is about people who came here and were changed by all that embodies the American experience,” David Wroe, music director and conductor of fhe New Jersey Festival Orchestra said.

“Lazarus' poem at the foot of the Statue of Liberty cries ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...’” Wroe quoted. “In this spirit, our 2018 to 19 season celebrates composers, artists and themes that found inspiration through their uniquely American experience.”

The 2018 – 2019 season kicks off in Westfield Oct. 13 with “Made in America!” The program will feature George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” narrating the plight of African Americans. “Symphonic Dances” by Serge Rachmaninov, one of America’s most famed immigrants, was written on Long Island, Wroe noted.  For an international touch, Chinese cello star Jaipeng Nie will play Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C.

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“He is a powerhouse of energy, having interpreted much of the cello repertoire across the globe,” Wroe said. “I became familiar with him during my tour of China a number of years ago, and am excited to share his talent on my home turf.”

Other international stars will be featured this season, Wroe said.

“Stefan Milenkovich, who blew everyone away last season will return to interpret Sibelius’ famed Violin Concerto at our final concert in May,” he said. “Another of our audience favorites, John Easterlin — who starred in our 'Madama Butterfly' — will return as one of our 3 Holiday Tenors in December. His voice has been described as ‘majestic,’ and he just finished a two-year run on Broadway in ‘Phantom of the Opera.’”

This year marks the 36th year for New Jersey Festival Orchestra, which started as The Westfield Symphony.

“In this time we have established ourselves as a premier professional musical ensemble with regional presence,” Wroe said. “This coming season we will continue this tradition of excellence in our established markets, but also explore new relationships in venues and cities. Two exciting new collaborations spring to mind  — Steven's Institute of Technology and Bergen Performing Arts Center. Stevens Institute has a wonderful concert hall, Debaum Auditorium, and we debut there in December offering the ‘Three Holiday Tenors’ concert —  proven so successful each year in Morristown and Westfield. A dynamic collaboration with Bergen PAC brings Celtic Women together with the NJ Festival Orchestra in November — a concert highly anticipated.”

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.NJFestivalOrchestra.org