Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey presents

English Wassail Concert

WHEN:  January 8, 3 PM
Grace Church, 4 Madison Avenue, Madison
TICKETS: $35/$25/$5/Adults/Seniors/Students under 22 with ID. They can be ordered online at the Orchestra’s web site,; by calling 973.366.8922; or by purchasing them at the door the day of the concert.

Dr. Robert W. Butts, artistic director of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, has designed an enchanting program of English Wassail music “with a twist” to warm the hearts and minds of concert-goers. The twist provides a bit of musical spice to the English Baroque wassail with a brand new work composed by Maestro Butts, as well as Mozart’s first piano concerto.


Suite from Abdelazar, by Henry Purcell, newly-orchestrated by Dr. Robert W. Butts. Abdelazar was one of Purcell’s last and most successful theater works,   Several of the dances and airs have been used by later composers for orchestral works (most notably Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra)   and for film and television shows ( Pride and Prejudice, The Young Churchills).    In keeping with theatrical traditions of the English Baroque, Maestro Butts is orchestrating the nine movements specifically for the musicians of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey.

Trumpet Sonata by Henry Purcell and Water Piece Suite, by Georg Friederic Handel, featuring   young trumpeter Michael Bassett of Montclair. Michael made his debut with the orchestra during the 2011 Summer Music Festival, playing the challenging solo part on Bach’s cantata Jauchzett Gott in Allen Landen. The two short works on the Wassail program represent the popular trumpet repertoire in 17 th and 18 th century London. “The Handel Water Piece Suite is a set of dances adapted from the more familiar Water Music. In this case it became a suite for solo trumpet and strings,” said Dr. Butts.

Mr. Bassett has been immersed in orchestral playing for six years as a high school and college trumpeter.   During his high school career, he played principal trumpet in several honors bands and orchestras in New Jersey, as well as attending Kinhaven Music School in Weston, VT for three years.   He is a sophomore performance major at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.   In addition to performing with Montclair State’s Wind Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Band, he has appeared as a soloist with their hallmark chamber orchestra, the Cali Camerata, including a presentation   at the Barge Chamber Music Series in Brooklyn, NY.

Piano Concerto #5, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring pianist John Pivarnik. This is the first concerto totally composed by Mozart in 1773, when he was just 17 years old. The earlier ones were either partially composed by his father, or more frequently were adaptations of music by other composers. In many ways, this is also the first major full-scale piano concerto and the earliest still in the standard repertoire. Mr. Pivarnik, of Madison, is a well-known piano virtuoso, appearing frequently throughout New Jersey and the metropolitan area.

A special treat during this festive Wassail program will be the world premiere of Two Songs for Bassoon and Strings, composed by Maestro Butts, in celebration of the 40th birthday of the Orchestra’s principal bassoonist Andrew Pecota, of Bloomfield. “The songs are modeled on Baroque ritornello form as perfected by Antonio Vivaldi, but are built on contemporary harmonic and melodic ideas,” said Dr. Butts in commenting on his compositions. Mr. Pecota is one of New Jersey’s leading bassoonists and is an expert on 18 th century music. He has been a major part of the BONJ success story from its very first concert in 1996. He has performed as a principal bassoonist with many New Jersey orchestra and opera companies and is a founding member of Zephyrs Winds, as well as a leading exponent of wind ensemble chamber music. With BONJ, he has performed concertos by Mozart, Vivaldi, Ritter and others.

A much-anticipated highlight of this Wassail concert will be the appearance of soprano Valerie Sue Muller, an active performer in concert, opera, musical theater and music ministry. She has appeared in front of audiences across the country and the world, from Italy to Japan. She made her debut performance with the Orchestra just this past December at a benefit concert in Franklin Lakes for St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Ms. Muller has recently focused her musical talents and passion on the church and is active singing throughout the Archdiocese of Newark. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in voice and opera performance.

Quartetto, by Johann Christian Bach, featuring flutists Margaret Walker and Catherine Garrison. Quartetto united the English Baroque with the Mozartean twist. The delightful work captures the blend of baroque and classical styles that made J.C. Bach the most popular composer in mid-eighteenth century England and provided him with the nickname “The London Bach.”   When the Mozart family visited England in the 1660’s, the child Wolfgang and the esteemed composer became close friends, with Bach’s style greatly influencing the younger composer’s early masterpieces.