WESTFIELD, NJ — The New Jersey Festival Orchestra kicked off its season Saturday night with “Invitation to the Waltz” at the First United Methodist Church in Westfield. The program featured waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr. and Richard Strauss’ waltz-filled suite from “Der Rosenkavalier.” Chinese superstar cellist Jiapeng Nie performed Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations.”

A second performance is set for Sunday, Oct. 6, at 3 p.m., in Madison.

“The waltz is one of the greatest social transformative dance and music combinations,” said Brent Chancellor, NJFO Music Librarian, in a pre-concert lecture. The waltz evolved from scandal and peasantry to becoming the most popular sensation throughout Europe, he said.

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David Wroe, the orchestra's music director and conductor, had discussed the waltz in the weeks leading up to the show.

“The waltz — that outrageous and intoxicating dance that forced 19th century fathers to lock up their daughters, made a superstar of Johann Strauss and captured the imagination of generations,” Wroe had told TAPinto Westfield.

“When the waltz first whirled through the ballrooms of Vienna it was a far cry from a dance like the minuet, which generally kept dancers at arms’ length from each other. The waltz allowed partners to be close and place their arms around one another as they spun around the floor, and so it caused an outrage,” he explained.

Featured cellist Jiapeng Nie played the highly technical “Variations on a Rococo Theme” by Tchaikovsky. 

“We are thrilled and honored that Jiapeng Nie has chosen to perform Tchaikovsky’s ‘Variations’ with us,” Wroe said recently. “The cello part is highly virtuosic and demanding of the soloist, becoming increasingly expansive and technically brilliant as the variations progress. If anyone can manage it, he can.”

If you go

Catch “Invitation to the Waltz” Sunday, Oct. 6, at 3 p.m., at the Concert Hall at Drew University in Madison, NJ.  For tickets, click here.

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