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PR # 232 April 17, 2008


The Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra (CJSO) will be led for the last time by its longtime music director and conductor Dr. Roger Briscoe, Saturday, May 10, at 8 p.m., in the Nash Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in North Branch. The event, ?An American Finale,? will be conducted by Dr. Briscoe, RVCC professor of Music and chair of the College?s Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Dr. Briscoe, a resident of Scotch Plains, has chosen six of his favorite works for the concert?all popular American masterpieces. Pianist Anthony Strong of Long Valley will be the featured soloist. The orchestra is composed of accomplished professional, community and student musicians, as well as members of the RVCC Music faculty.

The concert will feature two pieces each by three of America?s greatest composers: George Gershwin, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland. The program will open with Barber?s ?Overture to the School for Scandal? (1931), composed while he was still a student at Curtis Institute for Music in Philadelphia. Barber?s ?The Adagio for Strings? (1937) will follow.

Gershwin, one of America?s greatest songwriters, composed the ever-popular ?Rhapsody in Blue? for Piano and Orchestra in 1924. The soloist in this performance will be Anthony Strong. Gershwin?s grand symphonic portrait, ?An American in Paris,? (1928) also will be performed. Copland, often called the ?dean of American composers,? will be represented by his 1940 ?Quiet City? for Trumpet and English Horn Soloists and Strings. The solo parts will be played by Mitch Brodsky, trumpet, and Alison Williams, English horn. The program will close with Copland?s Four Dance Episodes from his 1942 ballet, Rodeo : ?Buckaroo Holiday,? ?Corral Nocturne,? ?Saturday Night Waltz? and ?Hoe Down.?

Strong, an assistant professor of Music, has been a member of the Music faculty at RVCC since 1985. He has performed as soloist, accompanist, chamber musician and musical director throughout the New York metropolitan area. He has been featured at the International Banff Festival, has toured as vocal accompanist for the Bolla Wines Young Artist Series, and has appeared as soloist with several area orchestras. Strong holds a B. Mus. in Performance from the University of Calgary and a Master of Music with High Distinction in Performance from Indiana University. He also completed coursework for the Doctor of Music from Indiana University.

Dr. Briscoe will retire in June after teaching 25 years at RVCC. He also has served as music director of the CJSO for 23 seasons. Dr. Briscoe has conducted widely in the US and in France, Germany, Romania and the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Lithuania. In 2001 he traveled for the second time to Lithuania to conduct the Lithuanian National Wind Symphony ?Trimitas? in four concerts. Following studies in France and Germany, Dr. Briscoe earned Master of Music and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University.

After his retirement, Dr. Briscoe will join his wife, a medical research professor, in Cambridge, England, where he will perform and teach at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.

Tickets for ?An American Finale? cost $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $10 for students and children. For information or tickets, call 908-725-3420 or fax 908-526-7890.

The CJSO is partially sponsored by funds provided by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts and the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

RVCC, located on Route 28 and Lamington Road in North Branch, NJ, and serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 40 years, offers 90 associate degrees and certificates. In addition, customized training programs and non-credit courses are available for those seeking personal and professional development.

The College is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community?s businesses and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu .

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