Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: NJ Symphony Orchestra, World Vibes Congress, more

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Pianist Inon Barnatan performs with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Jan. 9:


The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra‘s 2020 Winter Festival begins this weekend, with concerts at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m.; the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m.; and the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Jan. 5 at 3 p.m. NJSO music director Xian Zhang will conduct and Inon Barnatan will be featured on piano in a program that includes Prokofiev’s Selections from Romeo and Juliet; Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto; and Smetana’s “The Moldau” from Má vlast.

Rapper Ja Rule and singer Ashanti — who collaborated on some huge hits from 2001 to 2004, including “Always on Time,” “Mesmerize” and “Wonderful” — will perform at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. Lloyd and Lil’ Mo are also on the bill.

James Mastro (The Bongos, Ian Hunter’s Rant Band) will present a show titled “Jimmie’s Angels,” featuring four artists he has performed and recorded with over the years — Julia Greenberg, Megan Reilly, Edward Rogers and Eddie Skuller — Jan. 4 at 10 p.m. at Fox & Crow in Jersey City.

Vibraphones will be the focus of the Seventh World Vibes Congress, taking place Jan. 4, with a tour of Malletech Factory in Neptune at 9 a.m.; workshops and clinics at the factory (led by Stefon Harris, Warren Wolf, Tony Miceli, Ed Smith, Behn Gillece and Arthur Lipner), beginning at 10 a.m.; a mallet and sheet music pop-up shop; and all-star vibes jam sessions at the Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park, at 7:30 and 9:15 p.m.

The “Chicken Fat Ball,” an annual event sponsored by the New Jersey Jazz Society, will offer an afternoon of all-star swing music, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. at The Woodland in Maplewood. Musicians will include trumpeters Jon-Erik Kellso and Randy Reinhardt, guitarist Frank Vignola, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, clarinetist-saxophonist Ken Peplowski, pianist Rossano Sportiello, saxophonist Harry Allen and drummer Paul Wells.


The Montclair Theatre Project will present a concert production of the musical “The Oldenburg Suite,” Jan. 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. at Leshowitz Hall in the John J. Cali School of Music of Montclair University. Featuring book and lyrics by Montclair native James Feinberg and music by Matthew Dylan Rose, “The Oldenburg Suite” is about sculptor Claes Oldenburg; his wife Coosje van Bruggen, who was also an artist as well as an art historian; and his brother Richard, who was the director of the Museum of Modern Art. It premiered last year in New York.


Art House Production in Jersey City will present “StandUP for Jersey City,” a benefit for families of the Dec. 10 Jersey City shootings, Jan. 9 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. The lineup has not been announced yet.


The Paul Robeson Center for the Arts in Princeton will present “Fiesta del Día de Los Reyes Magos: A Three Kings Day Celebration,” Jan. 5 at 3 p.m., with a flamenco performance led by Lisa Botalico.


The West Orange Classic Film Festival, currently in its 15th year, will screen classic films weekly from Jan. 5 to Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at AMC Essex Green in West Orange. The series begins this week with the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock-directed thriller “North by Northwest,” starring Cary Grant.


Emily Mann, who is currently in her last season as artistic director at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, and playwright Rachel Bonds, whose “Goodnight Nobody” will have its world premiere at the McCarter from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9, will talk about their lives, their work and more in a free “Live at the Library” event at the Princeton Public Library, Jan. 5 at 3 p.m.


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


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