Arts & Entertainment

Westfield’s NJ Festival Orchestra Ends Season with ‘Battle of the Titans’

The NJFO finale in Westfield Saturday night featured cellist Sophia Bacela. Credits: Mike Cohen

WESTFIELD, NJ — The New Jersey Festival Orchestra's final concert of the season, “Battle of the Titans,” featuring cello soloist Sophia Bacelar, took place Saturday night at the Presbyterian Church in Downtown Westfield. A second repeat performance take place Sunday at 3 p.m. at Drew University.

Bacelar, Wroe and the orchestra mesmerized the crowd for the first half of the concert with “Variations on a Rococo Theme” by Tchaikovsky.

“I loved how the cellist played smoothly and with excitement,” said Mark McConnell, a music aficionado and Princeton professor in mathematics in the audience. "Westfield's symphony always gets a good crowd and I love how the town is so supportive."

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The season finale, named “The Battle of the Titans,” marked “the great success, as the title suggests, of the season,” said Shuang Guo Wroe, Maestro Wroe’s wife and a conductor herself. 

David Wroe, addressing the audience after intermission, spoke enthusiastically, thanking his fellow musicians and others who helped throughout the year to make NJFO a financial as well as musical accomplishment.

After intermission came Symphony No.1 in D minor, “Titan,” by Mahler.

"The music just took my breath away,” said audience member Paula Long, a life-long Westfield resident and a member of the Friends of the NJFO.  “I thought David was breathing in the music — his music was his oxygen"

A sweat-drenched Maestro Wroe emerged from back corridors of the church after the show to greet family and friends who were consuming him with hugs and big smiles.  When someone commented that it looked like he just played an intense game of basketball, he responded with a big smile of his own and his trademark enthusiasm.

“It's such a non-stop workout,” said Wroe.  “It’s completely emotionally and physically draining.”

A frequent contributor to TAPinto Westfield, Mike Cohen is the founder/director of Throwback Sports (a sports program for children of all abilities) and the sports editor of Education Update. Email him at


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