Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Great Auditorium’ Category

Ronald Naldi in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger , undated. ©

Ronald Naldi 2011 BF post


RONALD NALDI performing “Mattinata” from his album Torn A Surriento–Neopolitan Songs and Romances


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The Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove.Getting ready to perform Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” conducted by Jason Tramm. August 28, 2016. The musicians are from the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra.  Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Here is a link to the Blogfinger article about this concert:

Elijah in the Great Auditorium

STEPHEN DOUGHTY     Elijah Part 2.  “He, watching over Israel, slumbers not.”

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Heath's trove of wax cylinder recordings purchased by Michael Devecka in 1993, left, and the cover of Grammy-nominated "Waxing the Gospel." (Michael Devecka collection and Bobby Olivier) Photo from NJ.com ©

Heath’s trove of wax cylinder recordings purchased by Michael Devecka in 1993, left, and the cover of Grammy-nominated “Waxing the Gospel.” (Michael Devecka collection and Bobby Olivier) Photo from NJ.com ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor at Blogfinger.net

Feb. 12, 2017.   Theresa Deckenbach of Ocean Grove alerted us to an impressive and fascinating connection to tonight’s Grammy Awards.  It seems that one of the nominees, a CD collection of historic performances called “Waxing the Gospel,” represents the culmination of some remarkable music history research that is based on recordings made from 1890-1900 on wax cylinders by an optician from New Y0rk who obtained many of his tracks in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove during the annual Camp Meeting week of 1897.

His name was Harry A. Heath and he created the wax cylinders at a time when that was the only technology possible for recording musical events.  In this case, he documented early work by important pioneers of gospel music. The roots of the gospel genre are documented here, and it has gospel music lovers very excited. Many of the performers are known to historians, and now they can be heard, quite clearly, over 100 years later.

The result of some extraordinary research resulted in a 3 CD collection and a 400 page book of liner notes.  The quality of the CD’s is said to have been enhanced to a significant degree by digital applications.

NJ.com reported on this story yesterday, February 11, 2017, and it is best if you read the article itself, linked below.  You can also hear some recorded samples, so don’t miss looking at this NJ.com coup.  The article is excellent, written by Bobby Olivier of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com.  

In the piece, Olivier said, “As Heath bounced around the meeting, which also welcomed famed hymn writers and star evangelists, what he captured on his phonograph were among the earliest professional gospel recordings ever produced in the United States.”

He also says, “These recordings form a large portion of “Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism and The Phonograph, 1890-1900,” which not only re-illuminates the most devoutly Christian community at the Jersey Shore at the height of its notoriety, but uncovers just how integral the neighborhood was to worldwide gospel music and the advent of its reproduction and distribution.

“It’s a project that has been greeted rapturously: “Waxing” is nominated for two Grammy Awards Sunday night, for Best Historical Album and Best Liner Notes.

“Heath’s recordings, “Waxing the Gospel” co-producer Richard Martin describes, are “the stuff that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”

Regarding the Grammy situation, NJ.com says, “The project faces some stiff competition: “bootleg” recordings from Bob Dylan, the “Music of Morocco,” even the album notes for Kris Kristofferson’s complete Monument and Columbia albums collection. Still, none of these other nominees expose more wholly the beginnings of an entire genre: the drama and voluminous quality many associate with gospel music today was defined in part at the Ocean Grove meetings.”


BALDWIN’S CADET BAND with “Nearer, My God to Thee” from the Waxing the Gospel collection.

STEVE PORTER with “Yield Not to Temptation”  from the Waxing the Gospel collection

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Cello soloist in the OG Great Auditorium. Photo by Paul Goldfinger

Cello soloist in the OG Great Auditorium. Photograph by Paul Goldfinger. Click to enlarge.

* Quote from Radar O’Reilly in the TV series “M.A.S.H.”


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Great Auditorium on Sunday, August 28, 2016. All photos by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©

Great Auditorium on Sunday, August 28, 2016. Click to enlarge.
All photos by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Sunday, August 28, 2016.        A remarkable musical event occurred tonight at the Great Auditorium where Elijah, by Felix Mendelssohn, was performed by the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, the Great Auditorium Choir, Dr. Gordon Turk on the Hope Jones organ, 4 soloists including Monica Ziglar (soprano), Martha Bartz (mezzo soprano), Ronald Naldi (tenor) and Justin Beck (bass-baritone) with Justin Gonzalez (tenor section leader.)   The entire ensemble was conducted by Dr. Jason C. Tramm, Director of Music Ministries in Ocean Grove.

The sound of the combined components was spectacular as it all came together resonating off the wooden walls and rafters of the 122 year-old Great Auditorium.  Musically it is all very dramatic, and the music soars with beauty and emotion.     The oratorio is quite long, but it is considered to be one of the greatest choral musical compositions. It was completed in 1845.

The story of Elijah, of course, is taken from the Old Testament about the life of the prophet as he struggles to deal with the idol worshipping Israelites back in the day.  The six page program spelled the composer’s name wrong on the cover and never mentioned his first name. But Mendelssohn, who was born into a prominent German Jewish family and was converted to Christianity at a young age, would probably have been pleased with this remarkable event in Ocean Grove. Unfortunately, he died at age 38; they say he was exhausted from writing this piece.

I was up in the balcony, near the choir, when Jason Tramm began the performance with the bass soloist and the orchestra.   After a big opening, things got somewhat quiet, and I was lulled by it.  All of a sudden there was a huge roar, and I jumped and then realized that the choir, a sleeping giant,  had come to its feet, and its sound was big and dramatic, sufficient to wake up anyone dozing after dinner  (the concert began at 7 PM.)   All the soloists were wonderful, and none of the participants seemed to need amplification.

After climbing down from the rafters, I wandered outside, trying to figure out the source of a buzzing sound that distracted from the performance..  It quickly became apparent that the loud buzzing was originating in the trees—probably a swarm of insects trying to hum along with the music.

I reentered the GA all the way in the back to try and appreciate the sound of music at that location.  The acoustics were successful even there, and quite a few people chose those seats.  As Jason Tramm moved the oratorio along (It was divided into two parts) I noticed that there was a nun sitting back there, a local retired music teacher, a few African-Americans, and an infant who would intermittently squawk but not cry.  I also noticed that cell phone bright lights, provided by some members of the audience and one choir member, to read the programs, was a source of distraction.  But to balance that, Jason Tramm did not allow applause during the performance–only at the end.

By some miracle created by the Camp Meeting, this remarkable event was free.  There was an offering requested.

Outside the GA, there were some fans on the lawn seats, and there were no people noises.   Sea breezes floated around, and those who walked by seemed amazed by the pageant inside.

Over at Days a small line had formed.  One woman berated the guy she was with for daring to suggest that she not get whatever she pleased, like a big hot fudge sundae.  A couple with two small red headed children had to leave the line because “Daddy needs to drive home now and we can’t wait on line.  We’ll go to our special no-wait place.”

Two guys moved forward and were discussing this family’s bailing out:  “There is nothing I would rather wait for than Days ice cream.”  It didn’t seem like anyone there was aware that Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah was being performed in the big wooden building across the park.  I bet John Phillip Sousa, whose portrait hangs in the museum next to Days, probably woke up to hear that glorious music come wafting  in his direction.

PHOTO GALLERY FOR THE MENDELSSOHN EVENT   Click on one image and then follow the big arrows.  Click on the little X at the left side to return here.

SAMPLE from Elijah by the Edinburgh Festival Orchestra: “Help bow thine ear to our prayer.”  With Renée Fleming

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Neptune High School graduation. Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ. Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. ©

Neptune High School graduation. Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ. Photo by Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. ©

Monday night.  June 20, 2016.  the first day of summer.

Text and all photos below by Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

I got to the Great Auditorium as the names of the Class of 2016, Neptune High School, were being read.  There was a joyful noise as cheers erupted, one after the other, like a happy chain reaction. Then they all stood for the Star Spangled Banner, and then  over 300 Scarlet Fliers were clutching their diplomas as they flowed out into the twilight.   I stood there,  enveloped by the moving throng.  There were hugs, kisses, laughter and yes joy all around me.  It was hard to focus the camera.

The crowd was in motion as the grads greeted their families, friends and colleagues.  No doubt there will be parties, as there should be, because this is such a momentous accomplishment for these teen-aged students.   At this moment, only the here and now seemed important.

I was shooting very quickly, recording motion all around, trying to capture moments of truth.   There was little chance for composition.

When the images later popped up on the computer screen, I was surprised to see the faces.  Besides excitement and happiness, so many seemed serious. What was in their minds?  Was it fear of the future or were they merely overwhelmed by the moment?  They can’t control the expressions on their faces, but they will have many chances later to reflect on the meaning of what just occurred.

So congratulations to all the grads of Neptune High School  ’16.  This is an achievement to be proud of.

Click on the music and then click on a photo for the ultimate multimedia BF experience. Click on one and follow the arrows.  Click small X to go back.


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The Great Auditorium.  May 2016.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The Great Auditorium. May 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge


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All photos at the NJ Law Enforcement Memorial Service. 5/24/16. © by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger..net ©

All photos at the NJ Law Enforcement Memorial Service.  View from inside the GA as the officers were filing in.    5/24/16. © by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger..net ©  Click to enlarge any of these images.


Outside the GA befoe the service. ©

Police  Color guards assemble on Ocean Pathway in front of  the GA.©


At the Youth Temple before the service ©

At the Youth Temple before the service ©


West Windsor choir members before their performance ©

Members of the West Windsor-Plainsboro High School choir before their performance ©


Eric J. Houghtaling. NJ Assemblyman, 11th District. Carol Rizzo (r) Neptune Township Committee ©

Eric J. Houghtaling. NJ Assemblyman, 11th District. Carol Rizzo (r) Neptune Township Committee ©


Editor’s Note:  The annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service is to honor all N.J. police officers killed in the line of duty.  This year, three officers who died last year were added to the list of nearly 500 names. On stage were representatives of 22 major law enforcement agencies and associations.


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Lawn seats at the Great Auditorium on a Saturday night in the Grove © Paul Goldfinger photograph. 2014

Lawn seats at the Great Auditorium on a Saturday night in the Grove © Paul Goldfinger photograph. 2014. Click to enlarge.

DONALD PIPPIN  from Oliver

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Ocean Grove winter tents and the Great Auditorium. By Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©

Ocean Grove winter tents and the Great Auditorium. By Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©  Click to enlarge.

On a night like this, a person could use some warming up.   Here is RUBY BRAFF on trumpet playing a Louis Armstrong tune: “If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight.”)


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