Friday, October 13, 2017

NJ Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Shooting for the Stars’ family concerts

Concerts take young audiences on an intergalactic musical adventure

Program features music from Star Wars and Star Trek, Holst’s The Planets, Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and more

Interactive Pre-Concert Adventures include instrument petting zoo, fun activities

Sat, Nov 18, at NJPAC in Newark

njpac_centerThe New Jersey Symphony Orchestra takes concertgoers on an intergalactic adventure in “Shooting for the Stars” family concerts on Saturday, November 18, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The program features music inspired by the far reaches of space—including Holst’s The Planets and the otherworldly main themes fromStar Wars and Star Trek—and music that will inspire concertgoers to shoot for the stars and dream their own dreams.

Performances take place at 2 pm and 3:30 pm in NJPAC’s Victoria Theater; Interactive Pre-Concert Adventures begin in the lobby one hour before each performance. Nicholas Hersh conducts; actor Sid Solomon hosts.

The bold, booming percussion and jets of brass in Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra opens the concert with music for explorers on the edge of a never-before-seen world.

The program travels to Mars and Jupiter with Holst’s The Planets, a work inspired by the ancient Roman gods who gave the planets their names. Mars is named after the god of war, and the music alternates between a quiet tense pulse with bursts of orchestral sound like the sound of open battle. Jupiter, by contrast, is a musical portrait of a jolly god; the orchestra passes melodies from section to section in this festive planetary celebration.

The last movement of Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony opens with a simple four-note theme that dives and weaves in and out of a heavenly tapestry of musical ideas.

Beethoven’s deafness didn’t derail his dreams, and he proved that you should always shoot for your own stars. His Fifth Symphony opens with some of the most famous notes in classical music. This symphony describes Beethoven’s own epic journey: from fear of deafness and despair (some listeners hear those famous first chords as fate, chasing Beethoven down and knocking at his door) to a triumphant finale. The program also features music from Beethoven’s epic Seventh Symphony.

Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek theme uses an unusual instrument—the theremin—to make futuristic sounds, punctuated by blasts that sound like spacecraft hurtling into through galaxies. The theme from Star Wars by John Williams completes this trip, contrasting a fanfare of brass with lush strings to tell an epic tale of heroes, love and loyalty.

Pre-Concert Adventures

Learn more about the music and participate in fun hands-on activities during this interactive time that’s perfect for the whole family, with an instrument petting zoo and other special activities in the lobby. The Pre-Concert Adventure begins at 1 pm for the 2 pm performance, and at 2:30 pm for the 3:30 pm performance. Ticketholders should attend the Pre-Concert Adventure immediately prior to their concert.


Shooting for the Stars

Sat, Nov 18, at 2 pm and 3:30 pm | NJPAC in Newark

Jeffrey Grogan, conductor

Sid Solomon, host

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Program features selections from:

STRAUSS Also sprach Zarathustra

HOLST The Planets

MOZART Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7

GOLDSMITH Main Theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture


More information is available at

The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey presents the 2017–18 NJSO Family Series.


Nicholas Hersh, conductor

Nicholas Hersh is associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of  the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras. Since joining the BSO as assist ant conductor in 2014, he continues to make his mark on the mid-Atlantic region with exciting, innovative programming. Hersh directs the BSO’s educational and family programming, including the celebrated Academy for adult amateur musicians, as well as a variety of classical and popular programs.

As guest conductor, Hersh made his debut with the North Carolina Symphony in 2017, and has appeared with the New World, New Jersey, Auburn and Southern Great Lakes symphonies and the National Repertory Orchestra. He is a frequent collaborator and guest faculty at the Peabody Conservatory as well as the BSO’s OrchKids program for Baltimore City schoolchildren.

Hersh grew up in Evanston, Illinois, and started his musical training with the cello. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Stanford University and a master’s degree in conducting from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with David Effron and Arthur Fagen. More information is available at

Sid Solomon, host

Brooklyn-born actor and teaching artist Sid Solomon has performed with theater companies across the country, including The Acting Company, New York Classical Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Virginia Stage, Riverside Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Florida Rep, Florida Stage, Georgia Shakespeare and Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, among many others.

He also has served on the teaching faculties of Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Acting Company and Children’s Theatre Company. He is currently in his sixth year as the host of Musical Explorers, a concert series for elementary-school students at Carnegie Hall.

Solomon received his training at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program and LaGuardia Arts High School in New York. He has been a member of Actors’ Equity Association since 2010; he was elected to its National Council in 2015.


Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People, NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide.

For more information about the NJSO, visit or email Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

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