For their latest in a long-running seasonal series of presentations at the Count Basie Theatre, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has not-so-quietly introduced something new to the mix: the concept of the “No Shush” concert event.
Designed specifically for energetic and culturally curious young listeners ages 3 to 12, the family-friendly offering makes its Basie bow this Saturday, January 17 at 3 pm with a pre-show “instrument petting zoo” and other activities in the lobby — taking it inside to the auditorium for a performance (including selections from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf) by the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Players. It’s being billed as “classical music with all the chatter, questions, dancing and moving around desired” — so let the fuddy-duddies stew in their boxes; this one’s an expansively entry-level entertainment aimed at the folks for whom much of the world’s loftiest music was created in the first place.
Then at 8 pm, the NJSO sticks around Monmouth Street to complete the second half of Saturday’s twi-nighter — a star-kissed (and conceivably shush-worthy) program that pays tribute to a pair of 20th century American masters.
A star soloist from the New York Philharmonic and other organizations, Sarah Chang is spotlighted for a Chang Plays Bernstein concert that finds the internationally acclaimed (and Jersey-bred) violinist out in front for selections from the late and legendary Lenny Bernstein’s score to the Broadway milestone West Side Story — itself an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet transposed to the Hell’s Kitchen of the 1950s. The Shakespearean theme continues as the Orchestra and guest vocal artist (under the baton of conductor Jacques Lacombe) performs portions of Samuel Barber’s opera Antony and Cleopatra — a now-lauded work from 1966 whose original critical dismissal caused its composer (1910-1981) no lack of grief in his later years.
In a welcome change from previous policy regarding NJSO events, reservations for both of Saturday’s programs are now accessible online via the Basie box office. Take it here for tickets to the “No Shush” matinee ($12 adults, $7 kids 3-12) — and here for the 8 pm program ($23 – $88).