A History of the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey

The Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey was formed in 1972 as the "Y" Chamber Orchestra by the Music Committee of the institution that is now known as the Jewish Community Center of West Orange. It was conceived as a musical resource for amateur musicians to be able to play together and to add to the musical programs for the public at that Community Center. The first conductor was James Sadewhite, who remained for three years. Since that time, we have had several outstanding conductors, including Gerard Schwartz (1977), Brad Keimach (1977-1980), Gabriel Banat, a member of the violin section of the NY Philharmonic (1984) and Amy Larkey-Emelianoff (1985-1989). Camilla Kolchinsky was conductor during 1990, followed by Gary Fagin (1991-1998). Other conductors included Ariel Rudiakov, Yuval Waldman and Michael Stratechuk, our present conductor since 2003. Each of these talented musicians has left a mark of professional discipline and musicianship on the orchestra, and their contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

Our concerts have consisted primarily of the classical genre, but we have also tried to present music for popular, family and children's tastes. Numerous well known and prestigious soloists have appeared with this orchestra, including Carmit Zori, violin; Paul Tobias, cello; Ann Lieberson, violin (concertmaster, 1977); Peter Winograd, violin; Philip Myers, horn, in two appearances, and Philip Smith, trumpet, both principals at the New York Philharmonic; Pegeen Fitzgerald, narrator; Guillermo Figueroa, violin; Joseph Kalichstein, piano; Andre Emelianoff, cello; Yuval Waldman, violin; Ariel Rudiakov, viola; and Maxim Anikushin, piano. The Liberti family contributed to the musical quality of our organization, with Thomas Liberti, cello, of the New York Philharmonic, playing horn with us. His wife, Pearl was first violist, his brother Dr. Dante, was in the first violin section, Paul Liberti played horn and Frank Liberti played trumpet with this orchestra.

Two prominent local physicians who played with this organization were Dr. Eugene Parsonnet and Dr. John Winslow, whose memories we hold dear for their contributions to this orchestra. We also remember Robert Cahn, violin, our past president and generous contributor to the orchestra. Over the summer of 2009, the executive committee of the orchestra decided to seek a wider audience and a greater opportunity for obtaining sponsors. This resulted in the decision to relocate from West Orange to Millburn-Short Hills. The orchestra was greeted warmly by the local community by an over- capacity crowd at our first concert at the George Bauer Community Center and with generous hospitality by the Community Congregational Church for subsequent concerts. The orchestra will continue to adhere to the founding principles of providing a venue for amateur musicians to hone their skills and to present musical programs of interest to the community.

Since the fall of 2012 we have held our concerts in the auditorium at either Millburn High School or Middle School, depending on availability. The current season, 2014-15 is our 43rd overall and our sixth since our relocation to Millburn-Short Hills.


© Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey