In 1922, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed its first concert at the Montclair Art Museum. They weren't called by that name yet, and they only had 19 string players at the time, but it was a show that established the orchestra as an important organ in the artistic community. It also might have been the last time the group was largely unknown. The ensemble quickly swelled in size, talent, and popularity as it racked up one significant achievement after another. In 1968, Henry Lewis joined the company to become the first African-American music director of a major symphony. The orchestra reached new heights under his leadership, taking the stage at Carnegie Hall and at the Garden State Arts Center with Luciano Pavarotti?a guest who joined the musicians again in 1984 to perform the first-ever classical program at the humble speakeasy known as Madison Square Garden. The group's illustrious career continued into the late '80s, as it performed live on PBS and played a concert of Bernstein works that won the admiration of the man himself.
Today, the NJSO continues to confidently play into the 21st century. Under the current leadership of Music Director Jacques Lacombe, the ensemble shares seasons of classical, pops, and family programs, along with outdoor concerts, and educational projects. But the group has never forgotten its humble beginnings, maintaining a commitment to the community that caused The Wall Street Journal to call them ?a vital, artistically significant musical organization."
After three decades as the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra announced a new name in 2013 to signal its evolving artistic mission and growing love of confetti. Having cultivated musical excellence in Westfield for so long, they turned their attention to bringing that culture to a statewide audience. Their concerts are a celebration of symphonic music both classical and contemporary, including world premieres from local composers, and operas-in-concert in collaboration with Opera at Florham.
Winner of the JerseyArts.com 2009 People's Choice Award for favorite Professional Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse has been opening the curtain on top-quality musical theater and plays since its debut in 1938. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, follows the travails of a group of young students participating in their countywide spell off. With hilarious tunes and frequent fourth wall demolition, the musical expertly tickles audience funny femurs while filling their ears with the harmonious euphony of the Tony-nominated score. Groupon buyers will leave the theater with a Paper Mill Playhouse cup (a $5 value), allowing patrons of the arts to signal their theater affiliation to rival gangs of symphony and museum cup holders.
Raindance began as a thought experiment: can you make a movie with no money or experience, and without going to film school? 22 years, later Raindance now has 12 film networking and training hubs worldwide, and runs the largest indie film festival in Europe, the Raindance Film Festival. They provide hands on training, networking events, financing opportunities, and an innovative Membership program to help new and emerging filmmakers get their projects made.
Raindance's practical filmmaking and writing workshops break the daunting cinema-creation process into digestible workshops as industry professionals help to elevate the aptitude of independent filmmakers. Students can select courses that teach film industry basics including how to build a budget, choose a camera, and promote themselves. As a non-profit training and networking organization that works to promote and support filmmaking throughout the world, many classes conclude with networking sessions at local bars where participants can trade business cards to further their cinematic pursuits.
An artist, Distinguished Concerts International New York's website says, is "an individual who continually seeks to improve, to grow, and aspires to perform at a higher level." The people behind this definition are DCINY co-founders Iris Derke and Jonathan Griffith, and it's a definition their musicians fulfill. To do so, they collaborate and express themselves while both performing famed Mozart compositions and leading educational events.
Oprah Winfrey's presentation of The Color Purple has been given 11 Tony Award nominations from Tony Danza, Tony Gwynn, Tony Blair, Sir Anthony "Tony" Hopkins, Tony Stewart, Toni Kukoc, Tony's Restaurant, the three Tonys from Tony! Toni! Tone!, and Tony Wayans. If you want to see a musical presented by Oprah Winfrey and enjoyed by many Tonys, keep reading about a great deal on tickets to The Color Purple.