Arts & Entertainment

Westfield's NJ Festival Orchestra Delights Sold-Out Crowd on New Year's Eve

Tenor Max Quinlan starts off the New Year's Eve concert with a perfromance of Wilkommen from "Cabaret" as conductor David Wroe looks on. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio
Guest vocalists Angelo Luis Rios, Gabrielle Stravelli, Max Quinlan and Siri Howard perform for the crowd at Westfield High School. Credits: Jill D'Ambrosio

WESTFIELD, NJ – The New Jersey Festival Orchestra helped concertgoers kick off their New Year’s Eve celebrations with its performance of “An’ All That Jazz!” a revue of Broadway favorites and jazz classics Tuesday night at Westfield High School.

Under the direction of Conductor and Music Director David Wroe, the orchestra was joined by four guest vocalists, all of whom delighted a sold out crowd with a mix of nostalgia, humor and fun.

Selections for the concert included music by Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and Marvin Hamlisch, among others.

Sign Up for E-News

“People love this concert because it’s the perfect way not just to usher in the New Year but to usher in New Year’s Eve,” said Elizabeth Ryan, director of marketing for the NJFO, adding that the concert is the first stop for many before they head to a party or restaurant.

“They leave in a good mood,” she said.

Formerly the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, the organization has been performing a New Year’s Eve show for roughly a dozen years, Ryan said. Originally part of Westfield’s First Night, the concerts had been held at the Presbyterian Church until moving to a bigger venue at the high school.

Tuesday evening's concert featured vocal performances by professional musicians mezzo soprano Gabrielle Stravelli, soprano Siri Howard, tenor Max Quinlan and and baritone Angelo Luis Rios.

Spouses Quinlan and Howard are fresh from performing in the 25th anniversary national tour of Les Miserables for the past two years. The New Year’s Eve concert included “I Dreamed a Dream,” sung by Stravelli, from the iconic musical that will return to Broadway in March.

At one point in the second half of the concert, Wroe took a moment to talk onstage with Quinlan and Howard about their experiences in the tour. He was curious if they had witnessed any small mistakes during the show.

“We’re dying to know,” Wroe joked.

“There are a lot of funny things that happen onstage that hopefully you never know about!” Quinlan replied, before recounting one instance when he had to think on his feet to fill in forgotten lyrics to a song he had sung numerous times before.

Mary Jackson came to hear the concert with her husband, Steve DeDuck. Over the last few years, the Scotch Plains couple has made a point of starting their New Year’s Eve festivities at the concert.

“The orchestra’s always great, and the singers they bring in are excellent,” Jackson said.

Afterwards, she and DeDuck planned to gather at the home of friends who were also in attendance.

At the show, the Friends of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the fundraising arm of the organization, sold ornamental treble clef keepsakes marking the inaugural season of the orchestra under its new name. The keepsakes are $15 and will be available at concerts for the rest of the season.

Ryan emphasized the importance of the work the fundraising team, which also organizes a tour of notable local homes in May.

“The friends are really critical to the financial stability of the organization,” she said, noting that ticket sales account for only about 30 percent of the organization's budget.

The NJFO' next performance, “The Gypsy Spirit” will take place on Feb. 21 at the Richard P. Marasco Center for the Performing Arts in Monroe Township, Feb. 22 at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield and Feb. 23 at the Morris Museum in Morristown.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


County of Union to Fly Rainbow Flag for the First Time on June 4

May 23, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ — A rainbow flag will fly for the first time at the Union County Courthouse in recognition of June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced they are holding a public Pride Flag Raising Ceremony for Monday, June 4 at 1 p.m. on the steps of the historic Union County Courthouse on Broad Street in Elizabeth.

“Raising the rainbow ...

Open Letter to Dr. Dolan & Westfield High School Administration About Graduation

May 23, 2018

Editor's note: The following is a response to a letter sent to parents from Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson telling parents that, due to the potential of Kehler Field being re-turfed, this year’s graduation will be held on the back field behind Westfield High School, with the inclement weather location the varsity gymnasium. The letter tells parents ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale



Sat, May 26, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...



Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM


Memorial Day Parade

Westfield Police Blotter: Package Stolen from Porch, Shoplifting & More

May 23, 2018

May 15, 2018 11:40 a.m.

A resident of Vernon Terrace reported the theft of a package from their front porch on May 12, 2018 between 11:40 a.m. and 5 p.m.


May 19, 2018 1:16 p.m.

Rhonda Boston, age 32, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $580. Subject was picked up at New Jersey State ...


Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more

Union County 4-H Teens Pitch in for Geology Open House

May 25, 2018

Members of the Union County 4-H Teen Service Club volunteered as docents at the Rutgers Geology Museum last Saturday for a National Science Foundation program called In Search of Earth’s Secrets: A Pop-Up Science Encounter.

The students helped visitors navigate the interactive exhibits, as part of a collaborative project including the Rutgers University Department of Marine & Coastal ...

Westfield's Wilson School Receives Surprise Visit from Governor Murphy

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a few moments out of a busy schedule to drop in on a 5th grade class at Wilson School in Westfield on Thursday, May 24.

“Fifth grade is one of the coolest grades,” said the governor as he greeted the students.  “What are you studying today?”

A brief discussion of the formulas for surface area and volume needed to build an ...

There are Really 3 Reason Buyers Choose the Homes They Buy

Susan Massa Broker Associate CRS SRES ABR 

Keller Williams Premier Properties 188 Elm St Westfield NJ 07090

488 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ 07901

908-400-0778 cell

Dedicated to Excellence, Dedicated to You “Your Home Your Realtor”

download my smart phone app ...

Ask Maria: How can I help my son? 

Q: My son's best friend's mom just passed away. I am concerned for my son and don't know what to do for him. He is distraught. How can I help my son? 


Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. No two people grieve the same, even in the family. I am certain that your son’s friend and mom are like family to your son. Losing his ...

Dog Missing from Fanwood Home

UPDATE: Reunited with owner!

ORIGINAL POST: Lexi was seen north side of Fanwood Thursday. She's 25 lbs., tall and looks like a fox.

Lexi is friendly and was wearing a collar with a tag. Call 732-259-5570 if you spot her.

IRS Grants Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Reduction of Maximum Deductible HSA Contributions

The IRS recently announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).


For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.


The annual amount had been reduced to $6,850 for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

‘Chambers USA 2018’ Recognizes John Schmidt Among List of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is pleased to announce that John H. Schmidt has once again been recognized by “Chambers USA” in their annual list of leading lawyers for business. Chambers and Partners, which produces “Chambers USA,” is a client referral organization that researches and subjectively ranks attorneys and law firm practice groups nationwide ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Capitalist or Communist?

Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive oppressive regimes, many of those political activists genuinely thought communism would be better ...

Stocks Can Rise in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

Investors remain concerned about the potential impact of higher interest rates on stocks. In their most recently released minutes, the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee indicated the US economy is on solid footing and the economic conditions warrant continued gradual increasing of interest rates. This set off a sale in the stock and bond markets as investors began pricing in a fourth ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that ...