WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield-based New Jersey Festival Orchestra will present its season finale, Rebirth and Renewal, on Saturday, May 31, at 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield and on Sunday, June 1, at 3 p.m. at Ridge Performing Arts Center (Ridge High School), in Basking Ridge.
The performance will feature a rousing presentation of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, the first of the Austrian composer's symphonies to make use of voices and words as well as the orchestra. Performing with the orchestra will be two renowned soloists, soprano Lianne Coble and mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft, as well as the Harmonium Choral Society and special guests Ridge High School A Cappella Honors Chorus.
“This concert is a notable event in every sense of the word,” said Music Director David Wroe. “Firstly, rarely does an orchestra take on such a monumental and large scale work such as Mahler's 2nd Symphony due to the resources involved and the emotional intensity it conveys—it is almost overwhelming.
“Secondly, this concert event manifests a coming-together of multiple communities, and galvanizing the disparate forces of those communities, including youth and students—Basking Ridge High School Chorale—quality volunteer/service oriented institutions—Harmonium Choir—individual soloists of national and international repute and New Jersey's finest professional musical symphonic ensemble, NJ Festival Orchestra.
“Thirdly, the music itself—epic, soaring, covering every conceivable emotional and spiritual high and low. It is a piece, akin to a pilgrimage, that followers of the god of music must visit and experience once in their lifetime in order to receive the keys to musical heaven. The audience and 180 performers on stage make this concert the event of the season.”
Soloists Coble (lauded by the New York Times as having a voice of “melting, devotional sweetness”) and Craft (with a “warm mezzo-soprano [that] flutters so effortlessly”) deliver the story to the audience.
“The poetry is a combination of Mahler's original writing and Friedrich Klopstock's prose—a forerunner of Goethe and Schiller,” said Wroe. “The subject matter is nothing less than life and death. How death is not a 'nulifier' of life, but rather an inevitable journey to salvation.”
Rebirth and Renewal is made possible through the generous support of the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The Westfield Foundation, according to the NJFO.
Tickets range in price from $25 to $75, with a special discount price of $12 for students. All ticket holders are invited to attend a free pre-concert lecture by Dr Barbara Thomson 45 minutes before the performance.