Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Symphony's "Home for the Holidays" Delights Audience

WSO and Franklin Elementary School Chorus Credits: Marina P. Kennedy
WSO and Franklin Elementary School Chorus Credits: Marina P. Kennedy
Audience members in the balcony Credits: Marina P. Kennedy
The Sturchio family Credits: Marina P. Kennedy

WESTFIELD, NJ—On Saturday evening, The Westfield Symphony Orchestra held its annual holiday performance at the Westfield Presbyterian Church. The popular seasonal concert was sold out. This year’s program, "Home for the Holidays," featured a host of familiar songs, including Joy to the World, Silent Night and selections from The Nutcracker.

WSO performs under the direction of Maestro David Wroe and is one of the most highly acclaimed regional orchestras in New Jersey. Saturday's concert featured the talents WSO's musicians and the signature enthusiasm and style of Maestro Wroe.

"It is the sounds we are here for tonight," said Wroe in his welcome to the audience. The concert was a memorial tribute to James T. Dettre, whose support of the WSO was instrumental to the symphony's success and development. Ave Maria was performed in Mr. Dettre's honor.

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The program included the musical talents of the Franklin Elementary School Chorus under the direction of their music teacher, R. Brent Geyer. Fifty fifth graders performed in the concert in a special community collaboration with the professional orchestra.  The students sang two selections with the WSO, White Christmas and Christmas Wishes. Maestro Wroe introduced the youths, saying "What would the community be without children?" Wroe added, "This season brings out the child in all of us." 

Leon Hyman, music director and conductor of The New Philharmonic of New Jersey, was a guest conductor at "Home for the Holidays," and conducted the movements from The Nutcracker.  Hyman has an impressive background in the areas of ballet, orchestra, chorus, opera and theater.

In addition, the musical talents of Raymond Wojcik, Westfield High School's orchestra director, were showcased by the WSO when they performed his lively overture, Jubilee. Wojcik is well known throughout the country as a composer, conductor and arranger.

Audience members—many of whom were families—were delighted with the musical fare. Susan Wilshaw of Raritan, who grew up in Westfield, said the music was gorgeous and it put her in the mood for the holidays.

Matthew Russell Sturchio, a second grader from Westfield, enjoyed the concert with his parents. "It's great,” he told TAP.

The evening concluded with an opportunity for the audience to sing along with the orchestra with favorites including Frosty the Snowman and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The orchestra received a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.

Elizabeth Mitchell-Ryan, WSO's marketing director, was delighted by the excellent turnout. "It is the right program for the right time. This is a fantastic start to the holiday season,” she said.

The Westfield Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season. The WSO is currently selling tickets for its upcoming performances, including their New Year's Eve Special “Steppin’ Out” to be held at the Westfield High School on December 31 at 7:00. For information about any of WSO’s upcoming concerts, call 908-232-4200 or visit the WSO web site at

In honor of its 30th season, the WSO is hosting several fundraisers. Westfield Symphony Friends are presenting a stunning faux pearl necklace to honor 30 years of magnificent music, available for $30 at Bittersweet Designs in Westfield. The symphony is also asking patrons to save the date for the 30th Anniversary Gala to be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at Plainfield Country Club.

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