WESTFIELD, NJ —   Special guest virtuoso Sophia Bacelar joins Westfield’s own New Jersey Festival Orchestra this weekend to perform Tchaikovsky’s demanding cello showpiece “Variations on Rococo Theme.” Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 1 will then bring the 2016-2017 season to its conclusion.

Performances take place Saturday, May 20, at 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield and Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. at Drew University.

“I look forward to it on so many different levels,” Music Director and Conductor David Wroe said. “In no particular order: It is a culmination of one of the more diverse seasons the NJ Festival Orchestra has presented in many years. In the space of five months we jumped from Italian Neapolitan songs (The Three Holiday tenors in December) to the New Year’s Eve Broadway retrospective to Grand Opera  (La Traviata in March) to Big Band (Canal Walk in April) to Symphonic masterpieces such as Mahler in May. We achieved our goal. We were true to our mission. In short, the final concert marks completes the circle of our season.” 

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Wroe described this weekend’s guest performer as a “Jersey girl done good.”

“Sophia Bacelar is an exceptional cellist, born in New Jersey, who is presently making a successful career in Europe as a solo cellist,” Wroe said. “Sophia plays Tchaikovsky’s famed ‘Rococo Variations,’ a piece which is both lyrical and full of fireworks — the perfect vehicle for Sophia to demonstrate her virtuosity that has brought her fame. She comes from an esteemed musical family, her father being a respected violin maker in New Jersey.”

Wroe decided to end the season with one of Mahler’s most “accessible” compositions.

“Mahler's 1st Symphony is full of sounds of nature and his childhood, and firmly rooted in the Romantic musical tradition of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Strauss,” he explained. “It’s a larger-than-life composition  —  expansive, grandiose and speaks to the heart. We thought such a work is well-suited to close a successful season.”

Overall, the program is full of energy and positive spirit, according to Wroe.

“It’s music with a smile on it. I hope the audience will leave energized, motivated and being touched by the joy that permeates much of the music played that evening,” he said. “I would add that those who have never attended a New Jersey Festival Orchestra concert will leave astonished that Westfield houses a huge professional symphony and can provide such professionalism in such an intimate space.”

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

To hear our recent podcast interview with Wroe, click here.