SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — For the first time in two years, fourth-graders from the South Orange–Maplewood School District returned to the South Orange Performing Arts Center to attend a live performance of LUX Orchestra as part of an arts education partnership developed between SOPAC’s arts education and SOMSD’s fine arts departments.
With a clash of the cymbals and flashes of light, LUX Orchestra dazzled the students with dynamic performances of the music of Beethoven, Stravinsky and Bizet, concluding with a John Williams cinematic music trilogy with segments from “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park” and “Indiana Jones.”
“The theater was bustling with music, cheers, laughter and the singing of SOMA students enjoying an energizing performance of the orchestra. I’m grateful for the support and efforts of all the district’s teachers and administration who we’ve worked with to, once again, share the invigorating experience of live performance with our community’s students,” said Linda Beard, SOPAC’s director of education and community engagement. “This was truly a magical day.”
Special guest performers and appearances included baritone Michael Gracco, who invited students to sing Bizet’s “Toreador” with him, and Jennifer Hinkle, who introduced her medical alert service dog, Kita, to the students, sharing that people of all abilities can play in the orchestra.
Additionally, two Columbia High School string students, Mila and Leandra Wyrick, joined the LUX Orchestra ensemble, playing alongside the professional musicians on cello and violin, respectively.
The purpose of this field trip was to not only expose students to timeless musical works but to inspire the district’s fourth-graders to study a musical instrument and join their schools’ band or string program next year. LUX even provided an additional mid-day performance for music students at South Orange Middle School, who walked over to the arts center with teachers and chaperones.
Conductor Brent Chancellor called LUX “bold, dramatic, visionary.”
“LUX is an orchestral explosion, merging the worlds of high-energy performance and symphonic music. It’s an unparalleled musical experience,” Chancellor said.
The LUX Partnership will also offer additional opportunities for students to meet and interact with the orchestra musicians and their instruments in smaller groups throughout the year.