Free Concerts Showcase Youth & Adult ‘Two Towns’ Talent Nov. 14 & 15

by The Village Green
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More than 100 instrumentalists, singers, and dancers from the ‘Two Towns” region will combine forces on November 14 and 15 in two free concerts at the South Orange Middle School.

Presented by the South Orange Maplewood Community Coalition on Race and the South Orange Symphony Orchestra, the two programs are open to the public and take place Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Called “Two Towns in Harmony – the Remix,” the arts celebration includes a children’s choir (grades 4 to 6), a Youth Dance ensemble (ages 12 to 18), the Voices in Harmony chorus, the Columbia High School Excelsior Choir, New World Music group Wogbledoe, spoken word artist Bronson, the South Orange Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, and members of Maplewood Community Music and the Maplewood Glee Club. Conductors are Holland Jancaitis, Music Director at Morrow Methodist Church, and South Orange Symphony Conductor Susan Haig.

Audrey Rowe, Program Director of the Coalition on Race, said, “We’re thrilled to have this unique occasion to celebrate South Orange and Maplewood’s cultural diversity and strength through making music and dance together. Dialogue is wonderful, but live creative collaboration lifts our hearts, minds, and spirits with joy!”

The catalyst for the weekend was the 10th anniversary of the “Two Towns in Harmony” concert that took place in July 2005 and featured a specially commissioned piece by composer Janet Albright.   Excerpts from her work, An American Dale, will be featured on both programs.

The Saturday concert includes an original dance choreographed by Ruthanna Graves McQueen, (dancer, actor, and lead singer with Swing Town), as well as Voices in Harmony, and South Orange Symphony Orchestra musicians conducted by Holland Jancaitis.  The children’s choir is directed by Maplewood resident and opera star Lori Mirabal, who also teaches choral music at Kent Place School in Summit.

The Sunday concert by the South Orange Symphony Orchestra includes, in addition to the Albright excerpts, Mozart’s Impresario Overture and Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise (Lobgesang), a symphony-cantata for orchestra, chorus, and soloists. Conductor Susan Haig calls it “a magnificent depiction of heaven and earth praising God. It’s a joyful symphony for Thanksgiving that includes the hymn tune, ‘Now Thank We All our God.'”

Soloists in the Mendelssohn include sopranos Lori Mirabal and Josephine Quayle (Choral Director at Newark’s Arts High School), and tenor Philip Alongi, a frequent lead singer with the Florida Grand Opera who is Executive Producer of NJTV News (Ch. 23.)

MORE SINGERS WELCOME!  All interested singers are encouraged to participate in either or both concerts. Remix and Mendelssohn rehearsals are Nov 2, 3, 9, & 10; mail Audrey Rowe at info@twotowns.org, and Ellen Sleeter at Ellen.Sleeter@gmail.com. Music is provided. Children’s choir rehearsals are Thurs. Nov. 4 and 12; email info@twotowns.org. Dress Rehearsals for both concerts are Tue Nov 10 and Thu Nov. 12, 7:30 pm at the South Orange Middle School, 70 N. Ridgewood Rd. For more information, call 973-761-6116.

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