As heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Florence moved back out over the Atlantic, the Greater Red Bank Green was treated to a grand rainbow Tuesday evening, as seen here from Tower Hill Church in Red Bank.

Don’t expect abundant sunshine immediately, though. Partly sunny skies are expected at least through Thursday, according to the National Weather ServiceCheck out the extended forecast below. (Photo by Trish Russoniello.  Click to enlarge.)

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Ryan Brandau, right, and the assembled voices of the Monmouth Civic Chorus return to Red Bank’s First Presbyterian Church for a special ‘love’ session this Sunday afternoon. 

Sure, Valentine’s Day was nearly two weeks ago; this old world has taken more than a couple of turns since then, and most of us have long since restocked our inner seasonal aisles with leprechaun cutouts and marshmallow Peeps.

But to Ryan Brandau and the assembled voices of the Monmouth Civic Chorus, the season of Cupid isn’t over until February sighs its last, so when the venerable vocal organization returns to First Presbyterian (Tower Hill) Church of Red Bank this Sunday afternoon, it’ll serve up sounds that are “sure to lift and inspire… the perfect way to extend the spirit of Valentine’s Day.”

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vienna_boys_choirThe Vienna Boys Choir, above, returns to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on December 12, and the New Jersey Chamber Singers, below make their annual Yuletide stop at Red Bank’s United Methodist Church Friday.

NJCSClassic Christmas carols, cantatas and the most cherished of Yuletide ballets fill up the calendar this time of year. Read on for details on traditional holiday offerings from the Tower Hill Choir, the Company of Dance Arts, and a musical organization that traces its ancestry back more than 600 years.


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hottaters2 copyThe Hot Taters return to First Presbyterian Church on Tower Hill as part of the festivities for the annual Liberty Extravaganza and Strawberry Festival. 

It wasn’t so very long ago that July 3 packed an altogether different vibe than the relatively sleepy pre-holiday interlude we now get in Red Bank. But while the yearly KaBoom fireworks extravaganza last lit things up five years ago, up on Tower Hill, you’ll find another long-running holiday weekend tradition continues to make a glorious noise.

Now in its 28th annual edition,the First Presbyterian Church hosts the yearly Liberty Extravaganza and Strawberry Festival returns Sunday, offering up a selection of delectable homemade desserts and sweet, sweet American music.

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Ron LevyPiano virtuoso Ron Levy (above) guests with the Monmouth Symphony in a season-capping event, Saturday night at the Count Basie. Up on Tower Hill, baritone Gerald Metz (below) is among the vocal artists teaming up in HEAVENLY HARMONY for the Monmouth Civic Chorus.

Gerald Metz

There are surely worse dilemmas to be had in this world; more difficult choices to be made. But for local lovers of the classical repertory, this weekend poses quite the pickle, with two Red Bank venues hosting must-see events presented by a couple of the best-loved borough-based performing arts organizations.

It begins up on Tower Hill this Friday, when the Monmouth Civic Chorus continues its current season at First Presbyterian Church with a display of Heavenly Harmony that draws from the “visionary and triumphant” work of some choral music masters.

Then, on Saturday, down on Monmouth Street, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra concludes another successful season at the Count Basie Theatre with an eclectic concert highlighted by an audience favorite that’s been called the ultimate musical marital aid and audio aphrodisiac. Read More »


Press release from Monmouth Civic Chorus

director-brandauThe Monmouth Civic Chorus, the award-winning vocal ensemble under the artistic direction of Dr. Ryan James Brandau (pictured), has announced a 2015-2016 season that spotlights traditional Christmas favorites in December, and classical gems in March and May. Subscribers are guaranteed the best seats and best prices for all three concerts.

The sounds of the Yuletide season will fill the air when the chorus and orchestra premiere a new Christmas Suite by Dr. Brandau, featuring his own arrangements of holiday favorites. Classical selections from Handel’s beloved Messiah (a long-running yearly gift to the Red Bank community from the MCC) and Bach’s magnificent Mass in B Minor will round out the program. The concert, titled Joy to the World, is scheduled for 4 pm on Sunday, December 20 at the Count Basie Theatre. For many music lovers, it won’t be Christmas without it — and reservations can be made here for premium seating ($45 adult, $40 senior, $35 groups of 10 or more, $10 student) or for regular seating ($30 adult, $27 senior, $25 group, $5 student).

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tower-hill-Liberty-It’s a grand old flag for sure, and on Sunday,its raising forms the centerpiece of the annual Liberty Extravaganza at First Presbyterian Church on Tower Hill. 

Independence Day weekends in Red Bank have tended toward the quiet side in the years since the last KaBoom of the big fireworks events. But up at Tower Hill Church, a long-running old-school local tradition continues to make a glorious noise; one that continues for a 27th annual edition this Sunday, July 5.

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Groundskeeper AnimaudioGroundskeeper (left) and Animaudio (right) are just two of the local bands participating in the first joint Spring Connection Band Night partnership between three area churches Friday night.

Press release from Park Church

Three area places of worship — First Baptist Church of Red Bank, Park Church and Tower Hill Church — are bringing their middle and high school youth groups together for the first ever Spring Connection Band Night on Friday, May 29.  The concert and the after-party are at Park Church, 31 Park Road in Tinton Falls.

Scheduled to begin at 7 pm, the event is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item to help the Red Bank based nonprofit Lunch Break. All middle school and high school age students of Monmouth County are invited to attend the concert, which features such local bands as Groundskeeper, Animaudio, Dogwood Laine, Good Vivations and more.

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BrandauMuenchDr. Ryan Brandau leads the Monmouth Civic Chorus in song, Sunday at Tower Hill Church — while pianist Julia Muench salutes her immigrant heritage in a free Monday evening concert at Middletown Library. 

Vibrant vocal music in Hebrew and Latin — and a musical history lesson accented with the German immigrant experience in America — are on tap in the days and nights to come, courtesy of some of the area’s premier performers.

Up at Tower Hill Church — aka First Presbyterian Church of Red Bank — Dr. Ryan Brandau and the assembled voices of The Monmouth Civic Chorus inaugurate their 2015 slate of public-welcome concerts with A Joyful Noise this Sunday.

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ChristmasConcert-960x300Matthew Van Dyke directs the 50-voice Tower Hill Choir in a free, public-welcome performance of traditional Christmas choral music, Saturday evening at First Presbyterian Church. 

From the sacred to the secularly sophisticated, lovers of classical music — which is to say, music other than the classic rock sounds that permeate the Count Basie Theatre in the nights to come — can find comfort and joy in a pair of back-to-back events that are offered free of charge this Saturday, at two of Red Bank borough’s most musically minded institutions.

The music begins at 4 pm on the afternoon of December 20, at a venue that remains one of the community’s best kept secrets — the Monmouth Conservatory Of Music, host for the latest in an acclaimed series of public-welcome guest artist concerts. December’s spotlight falls on a special program of Baroque era chamber music, as composed by J. S. Bach, Diego Ortiz, Frescobaldi, Mayone, Scarlatti and Graupner — and performed by a pair of Russian-born specialists: violist Elena Kraineva, and pianist Raisa Isaacs. The international touring artists and educators perform in the casual and quite convenient setting of the MCM’s downtown White Street all-purpose room — just steps from the hustle/bustle of that last shopping-season Saturday in Red Bank, but a world and an ocean of time away from the Yule Log’s slow-burn, high-pressure smolder and spark. Best of all, admission’s by free-will donation exclusively, and the hour-long program leaves plenty of time to catch a bite, maybe do a bit of shop, and head up the hill to the next must-see event.

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Donating_Check_to_Lunch_BreakPress release from First Presbyterian Church at Red Bank

Recently, Tower Hill Church (The First Presbyterian Church at Red Bank) donated $8,725 raised from its October 18 Rummage Sale to the rebuilding campaign of the borough-based nonprofit Lunch Break. The donation goes directly to Lunch Break’s “Step up to the Plate” capital campaign for their expanded facilities and endowment on Drs. James Parker Blvd in Red Bank.

In addition, Tower Hill Church opened up its industrial kitchen over the last few months, for Lunch Break to use daily to prepare hot meals while its new kitchen and dining room are under construction. The Lunch Break staff is due to return to their new facilities in mid-November.

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Gordon_Turk_4_x_6_res72dpiHe’s toured across three continents, appeared at Carnegie Hall, and performed live concert broadcasts for NPR, in addition to many other professional accomplishments and accolades. That said, Monmouth County music lovers are instantly familiar with Gordon Turk as artist in residence and “house organist” at Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium, where his summertime series of free recitals have introduced generations to that local landmark’s spectacular (11,000 pipes strong) Hope-Jones Organ.

This Sunday evening, November 16, Gordon Turk journeys from The Grove to The Hill — Tower Hill Church, aka First Presbyterian Church of Red Bank — to perform on the church’s pipe organ. The first in a new season of Tower Hill Concert Series events, the 7 pm program finds the virtuoso exploring the possibilities of the 3-manual, 52-rank Reuter instrument via selections both sacred and secular.

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Brandau KovalskyMonmouth Conservatory of Music exec director Vladislav Kovalsky (right) is the special guest, as Dr. Ryan Brandau and the Monmouth Civic Chorus  celebrate MCM’s golden anniversary with a Saturday afternoon concert on Tower Hill.

The name of Felix Molzer, while perhaps not a household word in millennial Red Bank, is a significant one in the cultural history of a little borough that’s cast a giant profile on the area’s music scene. It was the European-born educator, composer and arranger — a former conductor of the Vienna Boys Choir in his native Austria — who established what became the Monmouth Conservatory Of Music upon relocating to the Red Bank green in the early 1960s. Before retiring as the MCM’s director in 1992, Molzer, who passed away in 2005 at age 83, also served as director of another source of local pride among serious music buffs: the venerable Monmouth Civic Chorus.

This Saturday afternoon, November 8, the MCC and its assembled voices (now under the baton of Dr. Ryan Brandau) pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Conservatory’s founding, in a concert dedicated to Molzer’s memory — and featuring the guest talents of his successor, the internationally renowned pianist Vladislav Kovalsky.

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First Presbyterian Church on Tower Hill is the setting for the annual Liberty Extravaganza on Sunday, capping an evening of strawberries and dixieland on the patio. 

Up at Tower Hill Church — a local landmark whose musically minded ministry and town-topping perch make it seem that much closer to heaven — the celebrated Concert Series isn’t always about oratorios, chamber pieces or modern choral compositions. On Independence Weekend, there’s plenty of room for crowdpleasing corn-on-the-cob from the likes of George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin and more, when the Liberty Extravaganza makes its 26th annual stand in a burst of red, white and blue.

Going up this Sunday, July 6, the event centers around the traditional concert of all-American patriotic marches, gospel hymns and popular singalong songs, performed by singers from First Presbyterian Church and the greater Red Bank community, joined by vocal soloists and a brass ensemble. A salute to the armed forces pays tribute to the men and women who have served the nation in uniform, and the evening concludes with the raising of the very grand flag (pictured above). Doors open 6:45 pm for the free 7:30 pm concert, with general seating available on a first come, first served basis. An offering will be taken to benefit the Tower Hill Concert Series.

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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.

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Danu.ColmHenryjpegAbove: Celtic combo Danú brings “An Nollag in Éirinnis” to Santa Basie’s workshop on Friday…while below, young adult novelist Julie Milillo comes home to Middletown for a Saturday discussion of Immortal Sin.

Friday, December 13:

JulieMililloRED BANK: It’s opening weekend for the annual holiday-season family show at Two River Theater, a newly revamped production of the original musical A Wind in the Willows Christmas that mixes Kenneth Grahame’s classic animal characters with “a lot more holiday spirit,” and redesigned costumes that highlight “ears and tails and fur.” Tonight’s 7 p.m. opening is preceded by a special noontime Scout Day preview that allows scout troops a behind-the-scenes look at the production, with games, snacks, photo ops and more. Performances continue at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday; take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on Mr. Toad and friends.

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Famed Red Bank area rock photographer Mark Weiss has announced the donation of a series of classic rock and roll portraits from the 1970s and 1980s, to benefit the borough-based nonprofit Lunch Break and its 2013 Gala and Fundraiser event.weissguy-about-me2

The limited edition prints, assembled under the campaign title “Feels Like the First Time,” collect a set of images dating back to the first time that Weiss had photographed each of the subjects — a gallery of luminaries that includes Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, Cheech & Chong, David Johansen (New York Dolls), Debbie Harry (Blondie), Paul Stanley (Kiss), Sammy Hagar, members of Bon Jovi, Boston, and many more. Prints are signed by the artists as well as by Weiss, and are being auctioned here through October 8, via the online service CharityBuzz.

The fourth annual gala for the charitable organization under the direction of Gwendolyn Love takes place from 6 to 10 pm on Monday, October 21 at Navesink Country Club in Middletown. Tickets ($150 each; the majority tax deductible) include passed hors d’oeuvres, carving stations, music by the Pat Karwan Trio, a silent auction as well as a live auction conducted by Steve Trevelise of New Jersey 101.5. Also offered are a cash bar and and a 50/50 raffle ($30 a chance).

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