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 the 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 on October 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 three 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. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.NJFestivalOrchestra.org