Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Great Auditorium’ Category

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. ©  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Here is a link to the Blogfinger article about this 2016  concert.  Kudos to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association for making such remarkable events possible in our town.  The link below has a photo gallery of Marvelous Mendelssohn brought to life by Maestro Jason Tramm, the musicians, and the choir.

Elijah in the Great Auditorium

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

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Ocean Grove.  A boy on the cusp of becoming a man.    August 1, 2017. Paul Goldfinger photo © Blogfinger.net


Christmas in August with Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert


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Facebook Imperial Brass

By Paul Goldfinger, music editor @Blogfinger.net.  Eileen Goldfinger video clips

July 6, 2017 in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove:

We enjoyed this concert by the Imperial Brass very much, as expected, but there were some “knock your socks off” special moments.

As many of you know, the famous trumpeter Phillip Smith has a summer place in Ocean Grove. His tone and technique are so good that it makes you want to jump up and cheer, which is what happened.  Phil Smith played an intricate duet with Mitch Brodsky called “Deliverance.”  In the second half he soloed on an amazingly complex piece called Scherzando.

Phil told the audience that he has missed playing in the Great Auditorium and how much he loves the salt air and the pleasures of being back in his little cottage on Pilgrim Pathway.   Phil retired from his  long-term position as principal trumpet with the NY Philharmonic and now he is on the faculty at the University of Georgia.

Other highlights included a lovely trombone solo of an African American spiritual “Swing Low” by Robert Tiedemann. (We have a brief video from that below.)

We have been attending musical performances in the GA for years, but my greatest wish, until now ungranted, was to hear authentic live jazz in that terrific venue. Tonight the Imperial Brass granted that wish in what I suspect was the first time a real jazz man played, without amplification, on our stage.

Warren Vaché is an acclaimed jazz cornetist  from New Jersey who had two beautiful solos with the Brass, but the one that I savored was his rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s  “Smile”  Vaché delighted the crowd with a vocal chorus as well as a jazz solo.  Hopefully we can get some more jazz players at the Grove.

If you like jazz, check with the Axelrod Theatre in Deal where they often feature first rate live jazz.  Last year they had John Pizzarelli.  Also, Shanghai Jazz in Madison is a fine restaurant that features jazz and has done so for years. It is worth the trip.


The Imperial Brass is such a fine ensemble, and they vary their content so that you never get bored.  The instrumentation is thrilling for you brass fans–a diverse collection of horns— baritones, French, euphoniums, trumpets, and more that I couldn’t identify.  But the end result is a magnificent sound where the components come together in a remarkable way.

They have a web site if you want to sign up for their mailings or buy their recordings:

Imperial Brass

The group astonished the crowd with their last number, a most unusual rendition of the “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa whose premier march is often played in the Great Auditorium, but it is always done “straight.” However tonight the Brass astonished us with a raucus, jazzy, 21st century version of this piece including the classic piccolo solo done tonight by a marvelous soprano cornet player.  I wish Sousa could have been there.  Below is a bit of that march:


But there was an actual composer present–Joseph Turrin, who got to have a standing O because some of his brass compositions were performed tonight including a marvelous tribute to New York City called “Landmarks.”

Here is a brief segment of Robert Tiedemann’s trombone solo: “Swing Low”  Video by Eileen Goldfinger

And here are two selections from the Imperial Brass & Friends CD.

PHILIP SMITH (Trumpet)  with a hymn that he loves  (he introduced it and played it tonight.)

WARREN VACHE´ (Trumpet)  “April in Paris.”  ( I could not find a recording of “Smile”)

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Ocean Grove Memorial Day Weekend. 5/27/17 Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

It was cool and breezy during the Atlantic Wind Ensemble concert on Saturday night, May 27, 2017–Memorial Day weekend in Ocean Grove, NJ.

The band entertained a large crowd with a fine selection of music including Haydn, South Pacific, Dixieland, James Bond and God Bless America among others.

Outside, tent city was largely uninhabited, but one dwelling was displaying an American flag, and in the waning soft light of the early evening, with the doors of the Great Auditorium open, you could see that flag floating in the breeze. Its colors seemed dreamy–not bright like the usual red, white and blue display.  In between band selections, I walked across the GA and outside to get this photograph.  No one was around except for some ushers, but the flag seemed just right for Memorial Day and all it stands for.

Memorial Day concert. Great Auditorium. 5/27/17. Paul Goldfinger photo. © Click to enlarge.

The first number on the program after the Star Spangled Banner was a Spanish piece called “Amparito Roca.”  Here it is as performed by the University of Illinois Symphonic Band.

The announcer said it was famous as a vehicle for dancing the Paso Doble, a dramatic and romantic dance from Spain, which I saw performed many years ago by a professional dance team at the Hotel Nemerson in South Fallsburg, NY.  But the Atlantic Wind performance for this piece sounded like march music.  So, naturally, I went home and Googled it.  And, sure enough, it is both: march and dance music for the Paso Doble.

So here are Susanna Reid and Kevin on You Tube doing that dance to the music of “Los Toreadors” (Bizet from Carmen)

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By Paul Goldfinger, Music Editor @Blogfinger

“The night was splendid
And the melody seemed to say,
‘Summer will pass away
Take your happiness while you may'”

Irving Berlin wrote these words, and although it was not about Ocean Grove, this town was always a place for summer music.

In June 1954, an article appeared in the famed music magazine Etude. It was called “Music at Ocean Grove” and it was largely about the Director of Music who had been there for over 20 years—-Dr. Walter D. Eddowes.

The article made it clear that the music then, in 1954, in Ocean Grove, was almost entirely “sacred.” Dr. Eddowes had an Auditorium Choir which sang the Methodist Hymnal on Sunday mornings, and this choir was a “trained” group of 300 mixed voices. That choir, together with the singing audience that numbered from about 1,200 at the start of the season to 10,000 during the height of the Camp Meeting Week produced quite a sound in the Great Auditorium. It’s a good thing they had a strong roof on that building.

There was no mention of instrumental music in this article.  They did describe the yearly “week long conference of sacred music, held each July back then, which was free, and attracted organists, choir directors, ministers and group leaders from all over the country.”

Eddowes was strict. He believed that “a real church musician feels as deeply about spiritual growth as he does about music.”  He also said, “To register with people, you must meet them in a friendly manner—but the friendliness must be genuine. Do not try to be funny!”

We can only imagine what he would say if he saw Gene Chandler, The Duke of  Earl, strutting down the main aisle of the GA during a Doo Wop concert in the Grove  (which did happen.).  Or how would he react if he heard the Tokens singing about love as they did a few years back during a concert in the GA:


But now, despite the changes in the secular schedule, we still have an ambitious and remarkable classical schedule which includes Summer Stars (one of the most amazing bargains for a concert since the days of Mozart.)

And we have Maestro Jason Tramm, the  current Music Director in Ocean Grove, bringing fabulous major works  including an oratorio and a Choir Festival each season to the Great Auditorium, often with full choral involvement and with entire orchestras conspiring to give the audiences goose bumps.

And Gordon Turk, at the helm of the Hope-Jones organ, provides amazing regular recitals by himself and visiting artists, and those are often free.

And the remarkable Metropolitan Opera star Ronald Naldi and his cast of singers also perform regularly in the Grove.

And don’t miss Phil Smith and the Imperial Brass.  Phil, famous trumpet player and Ocean Grover, will return with some of his brass geniuses to bring us world class  brass music. (see schedule above.)

Also you might recall our post about music in OG from 1890-1900, old recordings that were reproduced and received an Academy Award nomination this year.   Here is a link to that:

OG music from 1890-1900




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Can you talk without moving your lips?  Taylor Mason can. Go to the show and see if you think the dummy on his lap is talking.

Regarding the summer secular schedule in OG, Mike Love of the Beach Boys told APP.com, regarding the Great Auditorium, “I love that place, it’s great, it’s one of the classic venues that we perform at,” Love said of the Great Auditorium in a 2014 interview.”

And, he added with a laugh, “One of the great things about Ocean Grove is the proximity to some fantastic ice cream parlors. We find a lot of pleasure in coming there.”

And he is just one of many GA Saturday night performers who have praised that fabulous music venue as they stood on the stage of the GA  including Tony Bennett who liked to try and sing acapella there. I have heard quite a few musicians and singers express how awed they felt being inside that giant cello of a building.

CAST OF GYPSY   (2008 Broadway revival:)

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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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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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