Listen for Life, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to restore music as a unifying force throughout the world, selected the January 8, 2012 concert of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey as one of its eight world-wide musical events. The Orchestra, led by Dr. Robert W. Butts, founder and artistic director, presented its concert, entitled An English Wassail with a Few Twists at Grace Church, Madison, NJ, to a large audience that was captivated by the presentation.
The highlight of the Baroque Orchestra’s concert came with the presentation of Two Songs for Bassoon and Strings, written by Maestro Butts in honor of the 40th birthday of the Orchestra’s principal bassoonist, Andrew Pecota, of Parsippany. The work is built on principles of Baroque musical construction, using the ritornello idea developed by composers such as Vivaldi and Corelli, but with modern harmonic progressions and rhythmic energy.
Other highlights of the program included 19-year-old trumpeter Michael Bassett, of Hackettstown, playing the Water Piece Suite, by George Frideric Handel, soprano Valerie Sue Mullen, of Westfield, singing arias of Handel and Mozart, and pianist John Pivarnik, of Madison, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto #5.
Other musical groups selected for inclusion in this Listen for Life (Lfl) extravaganza were from Nairobi, Kenya; San Francisco and Santa Cruz, CA; London, England; Sydney, Australia; and Chicago, IL.
Listen for Life is a global organization created for the advancement of musical culture by serving listeners in every region of the world. Through diverse media projects, LfL aims to create an international community with those who compose, teach and play diverse musical styles that can be heard around the world.
Donna Stoering, founder and executive director of Listen for Life, said: “We were very happy that the orchestra participated in our Multicultural Music Day worldwide, under Maestro Butts’ wonderful leadership and inspiration. We created the day to raise awareness of, and celebrate, the power of music as a force of unity, healing, nourishment and a cross-cultural dialogue for peace worldwide. We were thrilled to have musicians of many different styles, cultures and instrumental traditions, create events on a number of continents on January 8 in solidarity with Listen for Life’s celebration on that date in Carnegie Hall in New York City.”
Speaking of the Orchestra’s participation in this world-wide event, Dr. Butts said:
“It was a great honor to be part of the international celebration and to meet some of the world’s greatest musicians. I look forward to working as a composer and conductor with some of the world’s outstanding artists. The Orchestra looks forward as well to the excitement of bringing international artists to Madison and premiering works for instruments such as the dan Tranh, a Vietnamese 16-string zither, related to the Japanese koto. This instrument is played by the world’s leading virtuoso instrumentalist, Van-Anh Vanessa Vo, following her work with the renowned Kronos Quartet. There is literally a world of incredible music in many styles and featuring many instruments. It is terrific to be part of it, to be the representative of orchestral music in the multicultural universe.”