WESTFIELD, NJ - The New Jersey Festival Orchestra earned several standing ovations Saturday night during its 2015-2016 season finale concert, “Enter the Dragon,” in Westfield. The concert featured solo soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho and a joint Chinese chorus in the patriotic “Yellow River Cantata."

With Ho taking the stage, the performance began with a selection of romantic songs by Richard Strauss and an opera aria from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” Conductor Shuang Guo then led the orchestra and chorus in performance of the “Yellow River Cantata,” an iconic Chinese piece written by Xian Xianhai. Finally, the NJFO closed the night with the “New World Symphony” by Antonín Dvořák.

Music Director and Conductor David Wroe introduced the night’s program, which encompassed themes of romantic love, passion and patriotism.

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“The two songs, ‘Cäcile’ and ‘Morgen!’ were written by Strauss as a gift to his newly wedded wife Pauline de Ahna,” Wroe explained. “The lyrics were based on poems that describe his true love for his wife.”

The aria from “Il Trovatore” similarly describes young love and passion amid a “violent and disturbing opera filled with death,” noted Wroe humorously. “The heroine reminisces on the love of her life and describes how he brings joy and spring to her heart.”

The performance of the “Yellow River Cantata” brought together members of the Chinese-American community in Westfield for a musical celebration of national pride. The piece was performed by a large chorus consisting of members from seven separate Chinese-American choral groups, soloists Ho and baritone Xiaomeng Zhang and the orchestra under Guo’s direction.

Learn more about the NJFO at  www.njfestivalorchestra.org.

Soo Min Chung is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.