About the Festival


The goal of the Essex County Choral Festival is to use choral music to build relationships between communities in Essex County by celebrating its rich past and demonstrating a vision for its promising future.


Essex County has long been a metaphor for diversity both old and new.  First generation immigrants from all over the world have made it their home for nearly 400 years.  Its strength lies within its richness of cultures, languages, religions, and peoples that call it home.  “Socio-economic and cultural diversity presents challenges for one of the most segregated counties in the country.  This project is about encountering the musical expressions of Essex County citizens in hopes of a more broad understanding of community” says Artistic Director, Jason Asbury.  This event brings the narrative of Essex County to life with choral selections sung by choirs from all over the county. 



The 2015 will be held at Montclair State University's Alexander Kasser Theater and will feature the Seton Hall University Chamber Choir, Rutgers University Newark Chorus, Montclair State University Singers, and the Newark Boys Chorus.  Dr. Heather J. Buchanan will serve as the guest conductor of the combined festival pieces. 


2011 and 2013 FESTIVALS

The festival, co-sponsored in 2011 and 2013 by the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience and the Newark Arts Council, celebrates the historical and cultural richness of Essex County and is held at the Newark Museum’s Engelhard Court.  The event features singers from various choirs in Essex County, narration by Dr. Clement Price (Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, Rutgers-Newark) and includes leadership by a guest conductor (Vicki Carter, 2011 and Jacques Lacombe, Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony, 2013), who conduct the combined group festival repertoire. 


Dr. Clement Price, noted, “This event, meticulously planned and involving a cross section of cultures and citizens that comprise the mettle of Essex County, is historically important. I know of no previous attempt to place choral music, in all of its richness and wonder, at the center of the life and times of the old American space that is Essex County. What a wondrous way to find the common ground—singing out loud—that unites us all.”  We thank Dr. Price for his support of the festival until his untimely death in 2014.



This festival is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.


This festival is also made possible in part by an ARTSTART project grant from the Newark Arts Council​, by funding from The Victoria Foundation, The Fraentzel Foundation, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.


Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience