Remembering the Little Symphony of Newark

by Ira Kraemer


Between the years 1964 through 1969, the fourth floor gallery of the Newark Public Library on Washington Street was host to the Little Symphony of Newark. It was a 50 piece community orchestra comprised of amateur, professional and student musicians from Newark and its suburbs. It even attracted musicians from New York City.

The orchestra presented free concerts 2 times each year to standing room crowds. At the time that the LSN was formed, there were a great number of Newark residents that followed the orchestra very closely. The now defunct Newark Evening News covered its complete activities because the music columnist and reporter , the late Alan Branigan was a violinist in the orchestra.

The Library not only hosted the LSN, but also provided major funding for its operation. The provision of music, printing the programs, furnishing the program notes, ushers, publicity and stage management was all generously provided by the Newark Public Library. All who were connected to the LSN looked forward to its performances as they were major cultural events which featured local musicians playing major symphonic works. Players ranged from high school students to one player who was over 90 years of age and was a member of the Boston Symphony during WW 1.

It was a great environment for the performance of classical music. Unfortunately the riots ended the era of the Little Symphony of Newark as players refused to come to the city for rehearsals and concerts. Today the LSN is remembered by few as it had a rather short life.

Ira Kraemer, former music director and conductor


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