WESTFIELD, NJ — People of all ages packed the Presbyterian Church of Westfield for the New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s sold-out “Home for the Holidays” concert Saturday night.

The annual program is one of the NJFO’s most popular, and most family-friendly, in part because it features uplifting holiday favorites and popular tunes, but also because it includes talented local youth. This year, special guest choruses from Westfield’s Franklin and McKinley elementary schools and young singers from MPAC’s Performing Arts School in Morristown performed in pieces including “For the Winter” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The orchestra is compelled to include area youth, Music Director and Conductor David Wroe explained to the crowd.

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“What would our community be without our children?” he asked.

Plenty of children sat in the audience, too, and the sounds of whips, hooves and neighs during Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” prompted them to look around for horses. After that piece, Wroe and the orchestra explained how instrumentalists accomplished those effects.

Other audience favorites included “Do Re Me” from “The Sound of Music” featuring MPAC’s Performing Arts School students, “Por Una Cabeza” tango featuring solo violinist Anton Miller (popularized by such movies as “Scent of a Woman” and “True Lies”) and “Orpheus in the Underworld,” a.k.a. “The Can Can.”

Tickets are available now for the orchestra’s other often-sold-out holiday show, New Year’s Eve. Held at Westfield High School, “Dancing the Blues Away” is a cabaret-style revue of Broadway classics featuring Jennifer Sheehan and other renowned guest vocalists direct from Manhattan. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.