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."
New Jersey Performing Arts Center stands firm as a bastion of live entertainment, opening the doors to its two distinct venues for a wide array of productions. Inside Prudential Hall, 2,700 seats fill the multitiered auditorium where ballets, symphony orchestras, and Broadway shows flourish beneath radiant lights and a domed ceiling. Victoria Theater, meanwhile, beckons visitors to its more intimate 500-seat confines for jazz concerts and contemporary dance performances.
Imagine the best theater Newark has to offer. Newark Symphony Hall has all that and more.
Don't deny your stomach an immaculate meal when you try this club's restaurant.
Families will feel right at home at this club with its kid-friendly atmosphere.
Parking is plentiful, so patrons can feel free to bring their vehicles.
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.
The Mayo Performing Arts Center straddles time. While one foot is planted in the old-fashioned charm of the 1930s movie-palace golden age, the other is firmly in the tech-savvy modern day. Between is a stretch of history that saw the theatre fall into disrepair and then resurrect itself to its star-studded heyday thanks to volunteers. Since its 1994 rebirth, the center has welcomed everyone from the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg to Ringo Starr and Aretha Franklin. But, if the Mayo Center were a tripod, its third foot would certainly reach toward the future—a suite of education studios is onsite to cultivate the next generation of performers.