Exploring NJPAC’s beginnings, impact on the community, global reputation (described by renowned critics as one of the “world’s greatest concert halls” and “the nation’s most glamorous theater”) and ambitions for growth.
I met with Jeff Norman and Josh Balber to talk about what one might still consider to be Newark’s best kept secret: the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
“Pffft,” you say, “I’ve heard of NJPAC before.“ But, did you know that the center that has drawn over six million people to Newark since its open in 1997? Did you know that the Center counts Yo-Yo Ma, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater among its performances? Or that deeply embedded into the DNA of the Performing Arts Center is a desire to catalyze the city’s renewal?
Or even that the Center’s Prudential Hall has been described by renowned critics as one of the “world’s greatest concert halls” and “the nation’s most glamorous theater”?
Jeff and Josh were kind enough to share some of the details about how the NJPAC was conceived and built by Lawrence Goldman, the Center’s arts programs and its ambitions for growth.
Also Tonight: Sounds of the City
Decisions, decisions: go to the North ward for the Jazzmobile, or NJPAC for crossover jaz, blues, and an African ensemble? NJPAC will continue with its Sounds of the City series in it’s outdoor Theater Square. Performances start (along with free food and a marketplace) at 5:45 PM.
Chase Sounds of the City
with Malika Zarra, Lil’ Bastad, and Kakande Denunya
FREE music performances in NJPAC’s Theater Square! This week’s artists include DJ Adam Cruz; Moroccan-born, Jersey City-based singer-composer Malika Zarra, a self-described “multi-cultural shape-shifter” who finds common ground in such uncommon places as Arabic working-class blues, religious trance music, and American jazz; Lil’ Bastad, a blues-based band comprised of five expert musicians who share a passion for old-fashioned funk and traditional rhythm-and-blues; and Kakande Denunya (pictured), a high-voltage, ten-member African music ensemble led by master balafonist Famoro Dioubaté.
Performances begin at 5:45pm and end at 9:45pm.
Putting Out the Word That Newark’s Got Talent
Upbeat review from the New York Times of “The Alumni Showcase” — a talent revue of students from the NJPAC arts education program. I had no idea that the NJPAC stands as the country’s fourth-largest such program in the nation, following New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.
According to Lawrence Goldman, president of NJPAC, the center’s arts education program is the fourth-largest in the country, trailing only those of Lincoln Center in Manhattan, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Los Angeles Music Center. Overall, 1,500 New Jersey teenagers have enrolled in the program, most on scholarship, with around 300 taking part each year.
“There should be agents in the audience,” said Ms. Thompson, who still auditions for roles in addition to her work at NJPAC.
The performance center’s assistant vice president of arts education, Sanaz Hojreh, agreed. “In the past, we’ve had agents in the audience and hope more will come in the future,” she said.
NJPAC will continue with its series of free outdoor concerts this summer, starting today at 5:45 PM. The “genre-bending” concert series features everything from jazz to hip hop to salsa to gospel, and are held in the performing arts center courtyard.
Tonight’s acts include:
Food and drink will also be available as well as a vendor marketplace. Here’s some history from the press release:
Created in October 1998, this free after-work music series was the brainchild of a group of Newark residents, musicians, students and NJPAC staff, whose purpose it was to help fulfill the Arts Center’s mission to be a place of access and involvement for local artists and audiences. “We have extended the great success of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center beyond its front doors,” said Evan White and Verushka Wray-Spirito, co-Producers of the series.
For more details, read the full release (PDF).
Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder will play NJPAC
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder is embarking on a rare solo tour next month, and he is coming to Newark. He will appear at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Aug. 7.
Tickets, $65 to $75, go on sale at 1 p.m. July 11. Call (888) 466-5722 or visit njpac.org.