WESTFIELD, NJ — The New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s 35th anniversary season kicks off next month. The 2017-18 concert program, titled “Voices of Distinction,” will contain five programs centered around words, stories and music.

David Wroe, music director and conductor of the NJFO, said the season is both a celebration and a commemoration: “A celebration in that it is the Emerald Anniversary — 35 years — of the founding of the orchestra,” Wroe said.

It’s also 20th anniversary of the his  appointment as music director. Within this time, the board, Maestro Wroe and the NJ Festival Orchestra team have guided the company to become one of New Jersey’s premier professional regional orchestras, according to Wroe.

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“Rightly so, I think everyone is looking forward to celebrate these milestones,” he said.

This year, many arts organizations are currently commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, he noted, “rather naively labeled at the time ‘the war to end all wars.’ NJ Festival Orchestra performs two iconic, yet lesser known, works influenced by world conflict — firstly Vaughan Williams’ ‘London’ Symphony and written at the dawn of WWI’s conflict, and secondly Richard Strauss’s ‘4 Last Songs,’ written at the close of World War II.”

The human voice, which Wroe called “arguably the most expressive of all musical sounds,” is a central theme throughout the season and each program this season explores how the voice has inspired composers to set words to music in religious (“Serenade to Music”), poetic (“4 Last Songs”), dramatic (“Madama Butterfly”) and theatrical (New Year’s Eve’s Broadway retrospective) contexts.
In addition to playing in Westfield, the NJFO has added a new venue to its regional series in Morristown, Wroe said, visiting for the first time the famed St Peter’s Church in Downtown Morristown.

“For anyone never visiting this gorgeous place before, it’s fabulous,” Wroe said. “Firstly, the acoustics are stunning. Secondly, the ambiance is awe-inspiring, and this combined with an orchestra the size of which St Peter’s has rarely hosted before promises to create the ‘perfect storm’ of a professional concert experience.”

The orchestra will well welcome some outstanding guest soloists, Wroe said, starting on Oct. 13 and 14 with internationally acclaimed virtuoso violinist Stefan Milenkovich.

“He will perform Paganini’s show stopper, ‘Violin Concerto No. 2 La Campanella,’ one of the most famous and most dazzling pieces ever written for violin,” Wroe said. “On New Year’s eve we welcome four guest singers direct from the Broadway stage. And of course we will have a slate of internationally acclaimed classical singers to perform a staged version, complete with costume, of ‘Madama Butterfly’ in March.”

If you’ve never been to an NJFO concert before, Wroe said, “Prepared to be wowed. You can expect a world-class professional orchestral performance to rival anything you can hear in NYC.”

Apart from the season opening concert at Morristown St. Peter’s Church on Friday Oct. 13, at 8 p.m., performances will take place on Saturday evenings at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield and on Sunday afternoons at Drew University in Madison.

Subscriber can save up to 20 percent. Discounted ticket packages, which vary in price according to seating level, are now on sale for the 2017-2018 season. Single tickets for each concert are $28-$76 (K-12 $15)

Single tickets and “mix and match” packages may be purchased directly from the NJFO office (224 E. Broad Street ) or by calling the box office at 908-232-9400.  Avoid all ticket fees and handling charges by purchasing tickets online at njfestivlaorchestra.org.

For more information call 908-232 9400, email info@njfestivalorchestra.org or go to www.njfestivlaorchestra.org.