The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra serves a musical mission in offering youth education and a place to play, while also serving up rousing, interesting programs. Orchestra member Bart Feller accompanied a young local flute player on piano to open the program Thursday, March 19th in Englewood.

Then violinist/composer Darryl Kubian introduced his composition "O FOR A MUSE OF FIRE" which is based on Shakespeare's Henry V. The piece included vocalist Mary Fahl, a water phone, and dramatic musical play between the violins. A four-note motive between the violins is passed throughout the orchestra met by a three-note motive started by the brass. Each represents the call to arms and battle between the French and English. Strings and woodwinds represent the English archers. As soldiers realize defeat and murder young English attendants the water phone stirs. Kubian cited his piece as musically rendering the complexity of man's relationship with violence - especially that of a king's power over many and his relationship with a god like entity.

The overall composition is dramatic with flurries of vibrant musicality especially among the violins and brass. The vocal accompiament is an interesting touch but between the crescendos of the music and the acoustics of BergenPAC lost some of Ms. Fahl's words. Mary Fahl has a dramatic, beautiful voice. This is a cinematic composition that builds steadily and majestically. One wishes Kubian had fleshed it out more. He will be a composer to keep one's eye on whether he pursues dramatic or cinema scores or continues in a classical venue.

The first half of the concert concludes with RACHMANINOFF: RHAPSODY ON A THEME OF PAGANINI, OP. 43 featuring pianist SERHIY SALOV. The piece wondrously intersect Salov's piano with the precision of the orchestra. Each plays with dynamism, passion, and dexterity. There's an underlying sense of fun and dramatics to the piece, nicely balanced, and quite enjoyable.

The second half of the concert included TCHAIKOVSKY: SYMPHONY NO. 6 IN B MINOR, OP. 74, "PATHÉTIQUE". Tchaikovsky composed this piece in the last year of his life. And it premiered a week before his death. These three pieces form a unique symphonic evening that is worth venturing out to see. They are richly textured pieces evoking drama, warmth, and suspense. Every section of this orchestra has a solid identity; each is finely hued and well blended. Performances continue this weekend in Red Bank and New Brunswick.

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