Regional Orchestra of the Week: New Jersey Symphony
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by BWW Features
BroadwayWorld is thrilled to announce its newest series - the Featured Symphony Orchestra of the Week!
Today's Featured Orchestra is the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra!
The NJSO today presents concerts featuring top-tier musical guests at seven venues throughout the state-in addition to summer concerts at additional outdoor venues-and provides educational and community engagement opportunities through the Greater Newark Youth Orchestras and numerous other programs.
Samuel Antek became the NJSO's music director in 1946 and focused on expanding the NJSO's role in its communities, beginning radio broadcasts on WNJR, creating the "Music for Fun" series of children's concerts, introducing the first outdoor pops concert on the estate of Augustus C. Studer of Montclair and establishing the NJSO's first youth orchestras. Antek stated the Orchestra's mission was "to share with more communities the inspiration of the concerts given by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra."
Under Music Director Henry Lewis (1968-76)-the first African-American music director of a major symphony orchestra-the NJSO entered a new era of high-profile musical activity. The Orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut with famous soprano (and Lewis' wife) Marilyn Horne, who became a regular guest with the Orchestra during the Lewis years, as soloist; performed three outdoor concerts led by Lewis in 1968 in a vacant lot on Prince St.-the site of the 1967 Newark Riots-and one in Untermann Field that Lewis dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King; and gave a concert at Garden State Arts Center with Luciano Pavarotti. The Orchestra would perform with Pavarotti again in 1984, in the first classical music program ever performed at Madison Square Garden.
The Orchestra gained even wider recognition under the direction of Hugh Wolff from 1985 until 1992. During this time, the Orchestra broadcast live concerts on PBS, performed The Rite of Spring at Carnegie Hall to great acclaim and presented a retrospective of the works of Bernstein at Carnegie Hall in a concert praised by the composer himself. Mstislav Rostropovich led the Orchestra in a Kennedy Center Concert, and the Orchestra made its first international tour to Ireland for the Adare Festival and a performance at Dublin's National Concert Hall.
Commissions from major composers have continued under Lacombe, including a new work by Steven Mackey to be presented in 2013. Through the New Jersey Roots Project-which Lacombe conceived as a new affirmation of the organization's commitment to artistic excellence in its own communities- the Orchestra has also explored overlooked repertoire and commissioned new works from New Jersey composers and composers whose artistic identity was influenced by the Garden State.
To learn more about the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, click here.
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Info courtsey of NJSO. Photo credit: Fred Stucker