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Meet Mighty Musical Duo Behind Ridgewood's Jamboree

Freides and Bronwen have lived in the village for 23 years and enjoy volunteering their professional music expertise. Photo Credit: Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen
The Ridgewood Jamboree started in 1947. Photo Credit: Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen
The is the seventh year Steve Freides and his wife Bronwen Eastwood are arranging the music for the Ridgewood Jamboree. Photo Credit: Ridgewood Mayor Susan Knudsen

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- At least 150 volunteers will sing, dance, strum, drum, paint and more to take the Ridgewood community on a "World Tour" for the annual Jamboree fundraiser.

The original musical revue raises funds for need-based college scholarships for graduating Ridgewood High School seniors.

More than $1.4 million has been raised in the last 13 years alone from the Jamboree, which started in 1947. This year's show performances are Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11.

Behind the music for the past seven years are Steve Freides, who is the band director, and his wife Bronwen Eastwood, who serves as the music director.

Residents for 23 years, they started arranging the music for the Jamboree when their oldest son was a senior in high school. Their sons have since graduated Ridgewood High in 2015 and 2011.

"It's rare you find something local you can do with your townsfolk for a good cause. There’s a part of me that’s old fashioned and misses that in life," said Freides.

Freides has a Ph.D in choral conducting, gives private lessons and is the music director and organist at Bergen Highland United Methodist Church in Upper Saddle River.

Eastwood teaches music at Wyckoff Public Schools and has a Master's in Opera Theater.

They enjoy sharing their musical expertise with the Jamboree every year.

The script is always different and he and Eastwood work with whatever they are given, adding or subtracting songs according to the flow of rehearsals.

Most people are amateurs in the band, he noted, and it's their job to make everyone sounds great.

"It’s invitation-only to be in our pit orchestra," he said.

"I'm grateful to have the great musicians I have," he added.

Every year since the duo has been involved the show has been a big success.

"People tell us it's very professional and that's what we're going for," Freides said.

The show stars high school parents on stage but anyone from town can help with the sets, lighting ad sales and other aspects that go into producing a musical revue.

Party packages include t-shirts and dinner tie-ins with local restaurants. The event sells out.

"It's a lot of fun and raises a lot of money -- $140,000-plus each year. It's a success all around," he said.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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