WESTFIELD, NJ — The New Jersey Festival Orchestra, formerly known as the Westfield Symphony Orchestra,  will throw its 31st Annual Fundraising Gala on April 5, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz dealership Ray Catena of Union. It’s the first gala under the orchestra’s new name, and the theme is “Starry Starry Night.”

 “It’s a tribute to them spreading out and growing,” said Elizabeth Ryan, Director of Marketing. “They are now reaching out to a larger audience.”

Tables will be dazzled with star centerpieces and decorations, giving the evening a midnight festival feeling. In addition to Ray Catena of Union, corporate include PNC Wealth Management and Fragomen, Del Rey, Bersen & Loewy, LLP.

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“The fundraising and ticket sales are going very well, mostly because of the curiosity of our new venue this year,” said Ryan.

The gala has moved to The Clubhouse at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, a larger location than the venue last year. The profit from tickets sales will go to the production of concerts, guest soloists appearing at the gala and foundations such as NJ State Council on the Arts, Dodge, the Westfield Foundation and more.

The Westfield Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1983 by Westfield residents. Throughout the years, it performed at the Carnegie Hall and collaborated with renowned artists. Its repertoire consists of contemporary, symphonic and operatic music. Orchestra members are all New Jersey residents graduated from top music schools in the tri-state area, led by Music Director David Wroe.

Maestro Wroe said, “Audiences should expect explosive results,” when they attend NJFO performances, which will be memorable for a lifetime.

“He is extremely hard working, and a wonderful talented musician,” said Ryan.

The NJFO has organized a program called “Music Caravan,” where it brings music education to urban schools. Wroe and a few other members of the orchestra go to the schools and get children involved in learning music, playing instruments and forming their own internal orchestra. They want to keep the music alive and engage young people to become a part of this experience, according to Ryan.

 “Music is underserved at these schools,” said Ryan. “We also use music as a healing aspect, so we also play to people in hospitals.”

The Orchestra is making changes to reach out to younger audiences.

“Music is fundamental. Young people—we want to get them involved,” said Ryan. “We should take advantage that we have access to a great orchestra right here at our doorstep.”

For tickets and more information, click here.

The reporter wrote this story as part of a journalism partnership with Kean University.