Arts & Entertainment

NJ Festival Orchestra Holiday Concert to Feature Central Avenue School Students, 3 Holiday Tenors

The Central Avenue School chorus is an elective group comprised of more than 60 fourth- and fifth-grade students that meets twice a week before school. Credits: Central Avenue School
The Central Avenue School chorus has been under the direction of Kiera Chiarino for the past 10 years.
Critically-acclaimed American tenor Cody Austin returns with friends to kick off the holiday season with NJFO on Dec. 9 and 10.

Choir students from Central Avenue School, as well as three renowned tenors, will perform with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra on Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. for “The Return of the Three Holiday Tenors” at Drew University’s concert hall.

The family-friendly concert is made up of three fundamental elements, said the orchestra’s music director David Wroe, including “seasonal favorites—carols and the like; classic ‘Three Tenor’ repertoire such as Neapolitan songs, classic arias and beloved favorites from the ‘American Song Book;’ and then community involvement with the school choirs and even some audience participation.”

Wroe said he is “thrilled” to have Central Avenue students help welcome in the holiday season with the orchestra this year.
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The Central Avenue School chorus is an elective group, comprised of more than 60 fourth- and fifth-grade students that meets twice a week before school. They have been under the direction of Kiera Chiarino for the past 10 years. 

Central Ave singers will perform John Williams’s “Somewhere in my Memory,” from the movie “Home Alone” and Dimitri Tiomkin’s famed “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“We believe there is something for everyone in this performance,” Wroe said. “Our program is a vessel for children, parents, grandparents and friends—indeed the entire community—to come together through music at this unique time of the year.”

Wroe said he had a hard time choosing his favorite moments from the program.

“Is it the full house clapping to the ‘Can Can’ or swaying to ‘Sleigh Ride?’” he asked. “Or maybe it’s those magnificent tenors hitting top As time after time. Or is it us allowing our hearts to be melted by ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Ave Maria?’ Or is it listening to those angelic children in their rendering of ‘Home for the Holidays?’ The truth is, it’s impossible to identify favorite moments because the joy is the sum total of the whole evening. It’s a seminal event in New Jersey’s holiday season calendar.”

Renowned vocalists Cody Austin, Cameron Schutza and Matthew White make up the Three Holiday Tenors.

Working with local students is one of the highlights of the year, Wroe said.

“The fact that we find such an opportunity to broaden our scope, an opportunity for relevance in our community is something that we celebrate,” he said. “Conversely, rarely do elementary students have the opportunity to interact through rehearsal, then perform in concert with a fully professional symphony orchestra. It is a symbiotic relationship eagerly looked forward to by all parties involved. These students are wide-eyed with expectations and eager to learn. The energy which surrounds the imminent appearance with the NJ Festival Orchestra has the school all a-buzz.”

This experience is one that many students never forget, Wroe said.

“I have met students who are close to graduating high school who come up to me, after the concert, gleefully reminiscing about the time they were in the elementary school choir with the symphony,” he said.

The concert takes place on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at The Concert Hall inside The Dorothy Young Center for the Performing Arts at Drew University. A Saturday performance will also be held on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield.

Ticket prices range from $28 to $76 for adults. A special discount price of $15 is available for K-12 students.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 908-232-9400.

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