SOMERVILLE, NJ - The roster of performers who’ve taken the stage at Newark’s Prudential Center numbers several members of the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, including Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.
Waiting to join their fellow New Jersey musicians are the 50 members of the Van Derveer School Fifth Grade Band, scheduled to perform between the 1st and 2nd period of the New Jersey Devils March 14th game against the Winnipeg Jets on the concourse of the 16,000-seat arena.
“There’s not too many people that can say they performed at the Prudential Center,” said Christine Wojewoda, band director.
The Prudential Center, home to the New Jersey Devils National Hockey League franchise, hosts over 200 live events annually, from rock and Gospel concerts to college basketball and professional hockey games.
The Devils also offer community groups – karate clubs, dance groups and school groups - the opportunity to perform throughout the NHL season.
Wojewoda, who describes herself as a “huge” Devils fan, attends games frequently and was immediately hooked on the idea of her young musicians performing at a big-time venue when she first heard of the Devils’ Group Experience opportunity.
“It really hit me, I really need to do something like this with my fifth-grade band,” she said.
“They should have the opportunity to play somewhere special in a non-competitive environment,” she added, “outside of the typical venues like the Van Derveer School or Somerville High School,” she added.
Once she received approval from school administrators it was time to tell the kids.
“I told them at one of our morning rehearsals, and they were so excited,” Wojewoda said. “Everyone was like ‘I can’t believe we’re going,’ ’’ she added. “They’re definitely excited about showcasing their talent.”
The Devils will supply a secure room for the students to store their instrument cases and personal belongings; the band will also warm up in the room prior to their 10-minute performance, according to the band director.
The students have been in rehearsals the past two months, preparing for their big night. The music set includes: "Star Wars (Main Theme)," " "We Will Rock You," "Another One Bites the Dust," a VDV favorite "Let's Go Ville," a Van Derveer favorite, other fun songs from our method book, “Tradition of Excellence,” and a special performance of “Happy Birthday” for one of the band members who will have a birthday to remember.
Parents, family and friends are expected to travel to the Prudential Center, just two blocks from Penn Station for the game and the performance. The Devils offer a reduced-price ticket package for the performers, who will also be in the stands to watch the hockey game when not on stage.
“It’s almost like a family outing,” Wojewoda said.
Further information is available online at https://m.facebook.com/christine.wojewoda?ref=bookmarks
The site includes a video of the 5th Grade Band performing “Good King Wenceslas” at the Somerville High School Dec. 8, 2016 Winter Concert.