Archive for the ‘Great Auditorium Musical Event’ Category

Phil Smith played "You Made Me Love You" with the Imperial Brass

Phil Smith played “You Made Me Love You” with the Imperial Brass. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge

By Paul Goldfinger

The concert last night was brilliant.  There were about 25 wonderful brass musicians on stage.  Imagine an ensemble with 5 flugelhorns?  

The pieces chosen for the event were varied—some obscure (at least to me), some complex, and some familiar, but they were all performed with a high degree of professionalism, emotion and care.  Despite some problems with clarity of the microphone, it only affected speech.   

The music, performed with  exquisite clarity and musicianship, was unamplified and enhanced by the great skill and respect afforded it by these musicians.

Phil Smith, of Ocean Grove, former principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic, not only played, but he conducted as well, although not simultaneously.  His gorgeous  tone resonated with the wooden interior of the Great Auditorium.  His technique was superb, and he got to show it off along with cornetist Mitch Brodsky in an intricate rendition of the “Cornet Duet” by Peter Graham.

This concert, the first of the 2015 Summer Stars series of classical music in the Great Auditorium, was well attended.   

The Summer Stars recitals occur on Thursday nights at 7:30 pm. On July 9 is Yun-Chin Zhou, an acclaimed pianist; on July 16  Maksim Shirykov and Misuzu Tanaka—clarinet and piano duo; and on July 23, is the Solisti String Ensemble.

On July 30 will be a very special event:  Gordon Turk, organist and Jason Tramm conducting the Summer Stars Festival Orchestra with “Grand Orchestra and the Great Organ.”

PHIL SMITH  “Someone to Watch Over Me”.  Gershwin



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Summer Stars Clasical Flyer_web2015



ELISABETH GANTER with  The Pilsen Radio Symphony  Orchestra.  Mozart’s  Concerto in A major for Clarinet and Orchestra, K622: II, Adagio.


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A color police color guard signals the start of the Memorial Service.  All photographs by Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger. ©

A  police color guard enters the Great Auditorium, signalling the start of the Memorial Service. All photographs and text  by Paul Goldfinger, editor @Blogfinger. ©

Multiple color guards wait inside.  ©

Multiple color guards wait inside. ©

Today, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, was the 31st Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service in the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium. It is the oldest event of its kind in the U.S. Five officers  who lost their lives in the line of duty this past year were honored along with others who were previously lost.  The youngest one was only 22 years old, and he died just five months ago.

Many dignitaries including Gov. Chris Christie, were present to offer prayers, gratitude, remembrances and condolences.

Gov. Christie on stage before the ceremony. ©

Gov. Christie on stage before the ceremony. ©

Over a thousand law enforcement personnel were present in dress uniforms including large groups from the New Jersey State Police, Newark and Jersey City PD’s.

Neptune Township Police Chief James Hunt and his police were there along with  representatives of PD’s from around the state, plus federal, county and state agencies.

Jersey City Police Department.  ©

Jersey City Police Department. ©

The Governor presented plaques, hugs, and kind words to the families of the 5 men. To the survivors he promised, “We care about you.”

West Windsor-Plainsboro High School choirs get ready in the choir loft. They got to sing in the Great Auditorium with the famous Hope-Jones organ. It was beautiful.  ©

West Windsor-Plainsboro High School choral groups get ready in the choir loft. They got to sing in the Great Auditorium with the famous Hope-Jones organ. It was beautiful. ©

“You Raise Me Up” was performed by Tyrone McAllister of the ASbury Park PD.  The version below is by the Celtic Woman.

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Inside out: The Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo.©

Inside out: The Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo.©

Tickets to Saturday night shows will be available online beginning on May 1.  For more information, contact the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.

For tickets:   1-800-590-4064   Online: WWW.oceangrove.org

Box office sales will begin on June 13.

June 27: Doo Wops

July 11:  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute

July 18:  Kenny Rogers

August 1: Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion

August 8:  Paul Anka

August 15:  4 Girls:  Andrea McCardle, Maureen McGovern, Donna McKechnie and Faith Prince

August 22:  Beach Boys

August 29  Felix Cavallere’s Rascals  and the Lovin’ Spoonful

Sept. 5: Doo Wop Finale

Sept. 12:  Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea


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Ocean Grove surf.  April 11, 2015.   Photo by Grover Nadine De Sousa  (FOB--Friend of Blogfinger) ©

Ocean Grove surf. April 11, 2015. Photo by Grover Nadine De Sousa (FOB–Friend of Blogfinger) ©

It’s a warm and friendly sunny Sunday here in Ocean Grove.  Nadine is a new resident in the Grove and a new contributor to Blogfinger.

THE DEL VIKINGS: (Don’t forget:  The Doo Wops will be in town on Saturday, June 27, in the Greatest Auditorium.)

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We got this from Shelly who knows where to find these ancient stars and the young people who are filling in, sometimes with  startling and revelatory interpretations of this music, which always tries to answer the perennial question, “Why can’t I be a teenager in love?”   Or, a close second, “When do we get a slow dance?”

2015 Doo Wop lineup:

June 27– Jay Siegel’s Tokens, The Chantels, Cleveland Still’s &The Dubs, Vito Picone &The Elegants.

Sept. 5– Gene Chandler (The Duke of Earl), The Crystals, Lenny Coco & The Chimes, Bill Haley Jr. &The Comets.

Here’s a taste of what’s coming:   It’s the TOKENS

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Gordon Turk says goodnight to the audience after a fine Labor Day concert. Paul Goldfinger photo.

Gordon Turk says goodnight to the audience after a fine Labor Day concert. Paul Goldfinger photo.


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Big crowd for the Mathis show.

Big crowd for the Mathis show on Saturday, August 23, 2014

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

At the age of 78, Johnny Mathis is still  capable of putting on a great show, full of music that suits his style of, as he calls it, “mushy music.”   Basically Mathis is not a jazz man, a doo wop guy, a Broadway star, a bluesy Sinatra wannabe or a Vegas lounge act. Instead, Mathis is what he always has been, a purveyor of ballads—ie “make out”music.  But he has lots of fans, because an estimated 3,500 people filled the hall and the balconies.

Last night at the Great Auditorium, he gingerly strolled onto the stage and did one hit after another, with essentially no banter in between.  He has never been known to have an effervescent personality, but there is something honest, endearing and kind about him.  He introduced some of the musicians who have worked with him for years—-some for 10-30 years or more.

At one point the fire sirens kicked in while he was singing.  He gamely went on, and then, when the song and the sirens were over, he smiled and said, “That was almost in my key.”     He arrived with a 30 piece full orchestra which was fine, except for times when they turned into an amplified bugle corps.  There is no reason for a single singer performing with an orchestra full of violins, woodwinds, etc, to be amplified.  At one point they managed to insert electrical backup singers into a live number.  What the heck is that all about?   The GA is supposed to have superb acoustics.  Even Tony Bennet acknowledged that as he tried to project a song without a mike.

But Johnny Mathis is a true miracle man because his voice, although not quite  as good as it used to be, is still wonderful wonderful.  And chances are that he will continue performing around the world.  Most of his music is famous , and the crowd loved it.  I disliked the opening number which was loud and incoherent; evidently trying to emulate a Vegas opening.

Johnny Mathis loves samba music. The part I liked the best was at the end when he became the Brazilian ambassador of music, and the orchestra got into that Latin groove as well.  He concluded with a sparkling samba version of “Brazil.”

It’s not for me to say, but I hope he returns  before the 12th of never and brings Gina with him.

P.S :    And just a brief criticism for the CMA program planners:  On stage was a professional orchestra and the 11,000 pipe Hope-Jones organ, but when it came time for the Star Spangled Banner, a trio of singers walked on stage and sang it acapella.  What a disappointment compared to what that would have sounded like with the musicians on stage joining the organ and the  big crowd to bring us a majestic version of our national anthem.

Here is a link to a 2010 BF post about the business of  arranging the Saturday night summer shows in the GA



And, heeeeer’s Johnny:




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Kenny Loggins in the Great Auditorium  By Rich Amole.  Aug. 9, 2014

Kenny Loggins in the Great Auditorium. Submitted By Rich Amole. Aug. 9, 2014

By Rich Amole, Blogfinger reporter and historian.



Ocean Grove welcomed pop/rock artist Kenny Loggins.   Formerly of the duo Loggins and Messina,  this artist brought his band to the Great Auditorium Saturday night.  From soft style ballads to rock, he found a wonderful niche for pleasing all who enjoy his unique style of song writing and instrumentation.

Some of the popular songs were “This is it”,  “Footloose”,  “Danger Zone” that you may remember from the Tom Cruise Movie “Top Gun” in 1986, and that title track from Chevy Chase and his gang of misfit Golfers “I’m Alright”.

Prior to the concert in the Auditorium Square Park were a group of young performers singing and dancing for all who stopped by.  Overall a wonderful day for this writer in the Grove topped off with an ice cream sundae from those wonderful Ladies Auxiliary volunteers.   The full moon didn’t hurt either…………………….


LOGGINS AND MESSINA:  “Danny’s Song.”   (from the album The Essential Kenny Loggins)

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Some of my neighbors way back in the GA where original wooden seats are located and where the view is grand.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Some of my neighbors way back in the GA where original wooden seats are located and where the view is grand. Paul Goldfinger photo ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

If you have never witnessed an Ocean Grove choir festival, it is an experience. I attended last night, but it was not a first for me. A large crowd was in there to hear the huge massed choir  of about 1000 voices from 125  different churches, professional soloists, the Hope-Jones organ aired out from top to bottom, a number of skilled conductors, a brass ensemble, and a varied program consisting of Christian music. The only composer I recognized was Franz Josef Haydn who wrote the opening anthem, “The Heavens are Telling.”

But even if you don’t know this music and even if you are not Christian, this musical event is astonishing to see.   The Choir Festival is not a typical concert, because, as a number of speakers explained, this program is about prayer through music. As it says in Psalm 95:1 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord.”  The program, in fact, stresses the words rather than the music. On the cover it says, “Wonderful Words of Life.”

Among the words offered last night was a prayer by the Camp Meeting Association COO JP Gradone who reminded us that living in the northeast was a challenge for those who promote religious principles to guide our lives. He hoped that our country could reconnect with the “values of America’s founders.”

But you can, as I did, attend to enjoy a marvelous musical event, while appreciating its religious significance. I like to sit way in the back, where the moms with infants locate along with others who enjoy the broad expanse of the unique sound and  visuals.

The soloists, with their trained voices, project out and can be clearly heard all the way in the back. They included Ronald Naldi, Monica Zigler, Martha Bartz, and Justin Beck. Plus, of course, there are the Director of Music Dr. Jason C Tramm  and our own Dr .Gordon Turk presiding over those 11,000 pipes.

Below is a sample of what the Choir Festival sounds like.   It is from “How Shall a King Come?” conducted by Dr. Cindy Bell and with soloists Monica Ziglar and Ronald Naldi.


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