Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 33
 
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
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Princeton Symphony Orchestra Member Regrets Departure of Maestro Laycock

JACQUELINE WATSON
Violist, Princeton Symphony Orchestra

A Tradition of Service Will Also Leave With Closing of Downtown Shoe Shop

SHIRLEY SATTERFIELD
Quarry Street


Princeton Symphony Orchestra Member Regrets Departure of Maestro Laycock

To the Editor:

I am a 15-year veteran of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and was as distressed to hear of the departure of Maestro Mark Laycock as I'm sure many members of our community were. I have experienced Mark take our tiny community chamber orchestra over the years and turn it into a symphony orchestra that Princeton could be very proud of. Audience members came from not only Princeton but from all over the tri-state area and it was not unusual for enthusiastic concertgoers to come up to us after concerts and say that our orchestra rivaled anything they heard in New York City.

Having played professionally for 30 years, I can say from experience that we PSO musicians have been truly fortunate in working under Maestro Laycock. As a member of the symphony I was able to experience first-hand the incredible talent and vision that he possesses. Mark not only directed the Princeton Symphony; his musical partnership with our musicians gave the PSO its identity. That kind of symbiosis is extremely rare in the music world. That's why I am so distressed, as are many of my colleagues.

I am equally distressed by PSO board president Caren Sturges' assertion that "it's going to be exciting for the musicians to have an experience with someone else, because we have never had a guest conductor." This statement is ridiculous. All of the musicians in the PSO are fine professionals who have played under both well known and not so well known conductors. What was "exciting" was playing under someone who understood how to make music with all of us who had been together for so many years. What was "exciting" was playing Walton's rarely heard Third Symphony this year or Stravinsky's Rite of Spring or Beethoven's Ninth with an inspired conductor. "Exciting" was the promise that as incredible as the PSO sounded in recent years, there lay ahead still the limitless possibilities for our growth as a living, breathing, music-making organism. "Exciting" was thrilling sold-out audiences concert after concert, bringing to our community the highest level of musicianship through our collaboration with Maestro Laycock.

From experience I know that conductor searches are emphatically not as "exciting" as Ms. Sturges indicates. They can be depressing affairs, often not even resulting in the selection of an ideal candidate for that particular ensemble. Certainly, few conductors out there have even half the talent and charisma that Mark possesses, and none are likely to ever have the special affinity for our rare community of players and concertgoers.

The board of the PSO has made a grave mistake in not doing everything in its power to keep Maestro Laycock at the helm of Princeton's treasure of an orchestra. I fear that PSO will never be the same, in terms of vision, talent, or personnel. Is there anything that can be done by the board to renegotiate and reach an agreement to restore Mark Laycock to the Princeton Symphony Orchestra?

JACQUELINE WATSON
Violist, Princeton Symphony Orchestra

A Tradition of Service Will Also Leave With Closing of Downtown Shoe Shop

To the Editor:

On July 17 I took a pair of shoes to John's Shoe Shop on Tulane Street, only to discover that the 17th was the last day for shoe repairs. I had known previously that the shop was closing because of a sign that had been posted stating, "We are retiring. We will be closing on or about July 31, 2007. Thank you, Princeton; it has been a pleasure serving you for 35 years! Please pick up your shoes before July 31."

How sad to realize that after 35 years of quality service the only shoe repair shop left in Princeton would be closing. I guess when you've grown up in a town where neighborhood grocery stores, candy stores, restaurants, and repair shops were there to give service to the community, there is a sense of loss for that hometown service when another establishment closes. Like its neighbor, Verbeyst Cleaners, John's Shoe Shop is now among the many longstanding Princeton service establishments that has closed to make way for corporate buildings, trendy shops, and parking facilities.

The man who worked behind the lattice partition at John's Shoe Shop was Jules Persicketti. For many years he made it possible for customers who brought in their old comfortable shoes to walk out with those same shoes looking like a new pair, or a new pair of shoes fixed to fit comfortably. His quality of work required a skill that technology has replaced, and that personal touch of an artisan's work is gone.

I went to John's Shoe Shop to personally thank Mr. Persicketti for repairing many pairs of my shoes for at least 25 years. I am certain that there are numerous residents who will cherish his quiet manner and quality service and who also wish to thank Mr. Persicketti for his skilled dedication to the Princeton community.

SHIRLEY SATTERFIELD
Quarry Street

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