I’m not a big fan of gala opening nights, which tend to be all about fancy dress, floral arrangements, celebrity guests and a feel-good repertory that extends from canon fodder to bonbon. On Friday evening at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center here, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 91st season with a gala program that aimed higher, showing that it’s possible to impart a meaningful artistic experience without spoiling anyone’s fun.

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