Arts & Entertainment

NJ Festival Orchestra Dazzles Crowd at Westfield Holiday Concert

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The Washington Elementary School chorus performs with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra. Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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The audience singing along to "Auld Lang Syne" Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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Wroe and tenors Kevin Ray, Cody Austin and Limmie Pulliam Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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The New Jersey Festival Orchestra Credits: Leah Scalzadonna
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WESTFIELD, NJ — People of all ages were mesmerized by the New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s “Home for the Holidays” concert on Saturday night, which featured the Three Holiday Tenors and a special appearance by the Washington Elementary School choir.

The orchestra and vocalists Kevin Ray, Cody Austin and Limmie Pulliam performed an array of wintertime classics, including “Sleigh Ride” and “Bring Him Home,” from the musical Les Miserables.

“This is a tradition in our community,” Maestro David Wroe said in his opening address to the audience. “It’s a focal point, a way to greet those close to us.”

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The concert, which took place in the Westfield Presbyterian Church, was nearly sold out, with about 600 guests in attendance, according to Liz Ryan, director of marketing. The mixed group clapped along with the “Can Can” and some shed tears during Ray’s performance of “O Holy Night” and “O Shenandoah.”

“It’s exciting to have so many families here, so we have an intergenerational celebration,” Ryan said. “It makes the season doubly festive.”

Wroe was especially festive, cracking jokes to entertain the audience and staging frowns and watch-tapping at particularly long notes. Before drawing attention to the elementary school chorus, he jokingly requested for them to spit out their chewing gum, prompting quick head-turning and concern among the students.

“What would the holidays and community be without our children?” Wroe asked the audience. “They are our joy, our hope for the future and the catalyst to draw out from us the values we cherish.”

The school chorus sang “Winter Canon” and joined in the performance of “Auld Lang Syne,” which closed out the evening in a medley of music from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s a wonderful show with infectious energy,” Ryan said. “Our shows are always fun.”

The NJFO will perform on Sunday will hold a special New Year’s Eve performance in the Westfield High School auditorium. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.njfestivalorchestra.org/index.php.

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