RED BANK: MUSICAL HEROES AND HANDBELLS

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Violinist James Ehnes keynotes a weekend of classical music in Red Bank, when he appears as Saturday night’s guest soloist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the Count Basie.  

It’s been called the kind of music that “musicians dream to play and audiences thrill to hear” — and this Saturday night at 8 pm, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra brings its season of concerts at the Count Basie Theatre to a close in spectacular fashion, with a performance of A Hero’s Life by Johann Strauss. With Jacques Lacombe at the podium, it’s paired on a program with another special treat — Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, featuring acclaimed guest soloist James Ehnes. As with all NJSO events, tickets for the 8 pm program ($20 – $85) are available NOT from the Count Basie Theatre box office, but by calling 1.800.ALLEGRO — and classical fans should take note that the borough of Red Bank is ringing this weekend with sublime sounds, both down at the Basie and up on Tower Hill.

On Sunday afternoon, conductor Roy D. Gussman and the borough-based Monmouth Symphony Orchestra continue their 66th season of quality concert experiences at the Count Basie, with keyboard artist Ron Levy joining the MSO as guest soloist for a program that’s highlighted by a piece regarded as “one of the most popular concerti in the piano repertoire” — Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The Scandinavian master’s work is augmented by two other works with Nordic flavor, Halvorsen’s Entry March of the Boyars, and the Sibelius tone poem The Swan of Tuonela. Finally, Aaron Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from the ballet Rodeo complete the program with a decidedly American flavor. The 3 pm concert is preceded at 2:15 by a pre-show talk, with Levy interviewed onstage by MSO’s bass trombonist and program annotator Tom Avakian. Reserve tickets ($35) here.

Bells will be be ringing up at First Presbyterian (Tower Hill) Church of Red Bank later on Sunday evening, courtesy of an all-star supergroup of handbell artists assembled under the direction of Adam Peithmann. The programmer of the Tower Hill Concert Series conducts the Calvin, Tower, Knox, Joy and Alleluia Ringers of English handbells, in “a program of sacred, secular and delightfully avant garde selections for bronze bells and choir chimes.” Admission to the 7 pm event is by free will offering.