WESTFIELD, NJ – Holiday tunes, Neapolitan songs and classic arias, including selections from the “Great American Song Book” will be included in upcoming performances by the New Jersey Festival Orchestra.
For David Wroe, the orchestra’s music director, picking a favorite part of the orchestra’s next show is not easy when considering the performances that will include the audience clapping to “Can-Can,” swaying to “Sleigh Ride” and children singing a version 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,” Wroe said. “It’s a seminal event in New Jersey’s Holiday season calendar.”
The show, Return of the Three Tenors, to be held Dec. 15 in Westfield and Dec. 16 in Morristown, will feature John Easterlin, Nelson Ebo and Brian Chaney as the three tenors.
A portion of the show will include a performance with local elementary school students, something the orchestra has long partnered with the Westfield schools for and is this year also doing with the schools in Madison, Wroe said.
“Rarely do elementary students have the opportunity to interact, through rehearsal then perform in concert, with a fully professional symphony orchestra,” Wroe said. “It is a symbiotic relationship eagerly looked forward to.”
Easterlin is looking forward to an upbeat performance, something that comes in a time when the public discourse across the state and nation has become increasingly divisive.
“There’s so much unhappiness out in the world today. There are so many people saying the wrong things, angry things, hurtful things, and what I’m looking forward to about this concert, is that this concert is a time of togetherness and inclusiveness,” he said.
A tenor with the New York Metropolitan Opera, Easterlin performed with NJFO last season in the role of Goro in the New Jersey group’s performance of “Madama Butterfly.”
A holiday concert might not wipe away the woes of the world, Easterlin said, but at least it will put smiles on folks’ faces.
“It just has this feeling of home and good things of the season,” he said. “As soon as the introduction starts, you hear sleigh bells and this rich orchestra sound and the wind blowing and the snow coming down and things that make you smile.”
The holiday shows come as the festival orchestra prepares for its New Year’s Eve performance, Singing and Dancing with the Stars.
The show, to be held at Westfield High School, will include a performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Da’von Doane and friends, who will recreate MGM musicals as part of the show.
“We have shaken up the program quite a bit this year,” Wroe said. “Talk about changing it up.”
If You Go
Return of the Three Tenors
Performances will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield, 140 Mountain Ave.; and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church, 70 Maple Ave., in Morristown. Ticket prices range from $30 - $76 for adults. Students in grades K-12 get in for $15.
Singing and Dancing with the Stars
The performance will be held 7 – 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve at Westfield High School, 550 Dorian Road. Tickets range from $42 – $70. Children under 18 get in for $15. Concert-goers are advised to purchase tickets well in advance, as this concert has sold out in prior years.
Tickets for both concerts may be purchased at www.njfestivalorchestra.org, by calling 908-232-9400 or by visiting the New Jersey Festival Orchestra office at 224 East Broad St., Westfield from 10 a.m. 3 p.m. To avoid fees, concert-goers are advised to purchase tickets online.