September 30, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

“Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”

—Harry Lime, in The Third Man (1949)

When President Trump recently spoke about “the very low level of deaths” America could list without those “tremendous death rates in the blue states,” his smoothly offhand tone reminded me of the Ferris wheel scene in The Third Man (1949), a film that, as Roger Ebert put it, “most completely embodies the romance of going to movies.”

In a YouTube minute I’m in Vienna, in a closed car atop the Riesenrad (the Great Wheel) high above the Prater amusement park. The first thing I hear is the smooth, soothing voice of Orson Welles as the black market racketeer man-of-mystery Harry Lime. He’s telling his old friend Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) to “look down there.” Sliding open the door, he asks, “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax — the only way you can save money nowadays.”

To look down from the top of the Great Wheel with the door open is like standing on the brink of certain death, and there’s a hint of menace in the quick downward glance Welles fires into the depths after Martins admits that he’s been in touch with police from the British Zone, who do not yet know that the accident that “killed” Harry Lime had been staged, a piece of subterfuge to flummox their investigation. They have proof that Lime has been making a fortune peddling watered down penicillin to local hospitals, where patients have been dying as a result, some of them children with meningitis. The question that prompted Harry’s philosophical disclaimer about the “dots” was “Have you ever seen one of your victims?”

I was around 11 the first time I saw that short, scary, unforgettable scene. As someone whose concept of good and evil hadn’t gotten much beyond Saturday matinee visions of cowboy heroes and villains, this was my “there are stranger things in heaven and earth” moment. I was dealing with the fact that the charming, fascinating rogue, the movie’s secret hero, had been not only blithely uncaringly making money from the deaths of kids my age but was boasting of the financial upside while hinting he might give his old pal a share of the profits.  more

“THE AUTUMN SONGS PROJECT”: Singer Katie Welsh (above) has launched an online series, “Live From My Living Room: The Autumn Songs Project.” This series of performances debuted with “September in the Rain,” and will culminate with a live Zoom Q&A session on November 1. (Photo courtesy of Katie Welsh)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Singer and scholar Katie Welsh has launched a YouTube series, Live from My Living Room, which begins with the six-part The Autumn Songs Project. Pianist David Pearl is overseeing arrangements and accompanying Welsh (online). A press release describes the series as “a miniature ‘Informative Cabaret’ from Katie’s living room, to yours!”

“With my live performance schedule tentatively on hold during this time, I really wanted to find a way to share the music I love from home … and so Live from My Living Room was born,” Welsh elaborates in an email to this writer. “The series will consist of various ‘projects,’ and I’m starting with The Autumn Songs Project. So, every Friday for the next six weeks, I’ll upload a short YouTube video in which I sing one song about autumn and share a ‘fun fact’ about it — its original context in a musical, a backstory about its creation, [and/or] an insight into the lyrics or music.”

“Each video I upload will be relatively short (4-5 minutes), and while each video will of course be a complete experience on its own, I’m really thinking of each ‘project’ I do as being a cumulative experience,” Welsh adds. “In the case of The Autumn Songs Project I’m hoping that by the end of the six weeks, listeners have not only enjoyed listening to six gorgeous songs about fall, but have also learned a bit about how composers and lyricists have approached writing ‘autumn songs’ and gained some new knowledge about the songs themselves.” more

MUSIC AND NATURE: Cellist Michelle Djokic, the artistic director of Concordia Chamber Players, is featured in an online performance October 4.

In response to the pandemic, the Manzanita Music Collective was formed during the summer. Artistic Director Michelle Djokic invited violinist Edwin Huizinga to become a “quaranteam” with her and explore all of the repertoire for violin and cello.  more

SINGING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Renowned tenor Jonathan Tetelman, who grew up in Princeton, is among those taking part in a combined nature documentary and music festival to benefit the Sourland Conservancy. 

On October 10 at 8 p.m., the Sourland Conservancy will present a free, hour-long program combining nature documentary and music festival to raise public awareness and funds to address a serious threat to the Sourlands, the third largest forested area in New Jersey and home to several threatened and endangered species.

“We are losing over 1 million trees. That’s devastating,” said Sourland Conservancy Executive Director Laurie Cleveland. “Over 20 percent of the Sourland trees are ash, the highest concentration in New Jersey, and all these trees will be killed within the next few years by an invasive insect, the emerald ash borer. We are working to develop a reforestation plan in partnership with local, state, and national  organizations that recognize the ecological importance of  the Sourlands — and the impact of ash decline on our forest’s ability to clean our water and air, sequester carbon, and provide critical habitat.”

The Sourland Conservancy’s popular Sourland Mountain Festival was canceled due to COVID-19, so Conservancy staff, volunteers, sponsors, partner organizations, and municipalities and worked together to create a new event to safely engage the community in the effort to restore the forest.  more

SAMPLER ART: The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton now presents an online exhibit featuring samplers made by girls in the 18th and 19th century. The collection can be viewed at barracks.org/samplercollection

The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton has announced the opening of a new online exhibit, “Sampler Collection,” featuring 19 samplers made by girls in the 18th and 19th century. The collection can be viewed at barracks.org/samplercollection

Needlework was an essential part of a young girl’s education during the 18th and 19th centuries. Typically created by girls ranging in age from 8 to 15 and working under the instruction of a teacher, samplers demonstrated the individual’s necessary skills of sewing or mending for their future home life. Depending on the skill and age of the creator, samplers could range from simpler “marker samplers” to embroidery with beautiful landscape subjects resembling paintings. more

“MELLOW YELLOW”: This watercolor by Beatrice Bork, a resident of Hunterdon County, is featured in “In Our Nature,” on view October 8 through November 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. 

Artists Beatrice Bork and Joe Kazimierczyk will feature their nature-inspired paintings in the exhibit “In Our Nature,” on view October 8 through November 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. 

Bork and Kazimierczyk both draw their inspiration from their outdoor experiences and say it’s simply in their nature to paint what they love. Kazimierczyk, an oil painter, expresses the beauty of the region’s landscapes, forests, and rivers. Bork’s watercolor paintings display a sensitivity to detail and composition, elevated through direct observation and love of her animal subjects. 

Bork, a resident of Hunterdon County, has worked to establish her career within the genre of animal art, focusing on birds. She has received many accolades, including numerous solo and juried exhibitions at regional galleries, various institutions, and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad.

A professional artist for more than 25 years, Bork’s achievements include signature status in the prestigious international group, the Society of Animal Artists (SAA), where her work has been selected for several “Art and the Animal” exhibits, and she was named as one of the recipients of the Don Eckelberry Award for outstanding bird art. Bork has had her work displayed in a variety of publications, and is proud to have had her work acquired by collectors from around the world. 

“NEAR HIGH BRIDGE”: This oil painting by Sourland Mountain resident Joe Kazimierczyk is featured in “In Our Nature,” on view October 8 through November 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.   more

September 23, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

A year ago I was writing about baseball and the Beatles on the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road and the St. Louis Cardinals’ four-game playoff-clinching sweep of their arch rivals, the Chicago Cubs. At the time I didn’t know about the photograph staged to publicize the ill-fated June 2020 London series between the Cubs and the Cardinals.   

However disappointed fans may have been when the event was canceled by the pandemic, the image of Cubs outfielder Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Yadier Molina crossing Abbey Road helps make up for it. Here are four ballplayers reenacting in full uniform the zebra crossing cover shot seen round the world, each player replicating the posture, style, and stride of a Beatle — Bryant subbing for George, Rizzo for barefoot Paul (his slightly uplifted lead foot similarly positioned at the exact edge of the identical zebra stripe), Goldschmidt for Ringo, and Molina for John, whose song “Come Together” provided the tagline for both teams’ Facebook postings.

Just imagining what went on behind the scenes brings a smile. Did Rizzo volunteer to go shoeless, or did the organizer of the shoot explain the situation by quoting McCartney, who lived around the corner at the time: “It was a really nice hot day and I didn’t feel like wearing shoes, so I went around to the photo session and showed me bare feet.” Or was there a squabble among the players about which Beatle each would be subbing for? Or perhaps some back and forth between the fiery Molina and the outspoken Bryant, who once defamed the city of St. Louis as “boring.” And maybe a debate about airbrushing the elaborate tattoo on Molina’s right arm, settled with a line from the theme song of the shoot: “One thing I tell you is you got to be free.”

Deals and Steals

It’s worth noting that the legendary Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, the second-most storied in baseball, made them the logical choice to follow 2019’s Red Sox-Yankees London match-up, which had been billed as “an intense and historic rivalry well over a century in the making.”

Both feuds were founded on infamously one-sided deals: the Red Sox “Curse of the Bambino” sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920 and the trade that brought Lou Brock (1939-2020) from Chicago to St. Louis in 1964, a move that helped lift the Cardinals to a world championship the same year. When Brock died earlier this month, the New York Times obituary (“Baseball Hall of Famer Known for Stealing Bases”) quoted him on bravado: “You know before you steal a base that you’ve got nine guys out there in different uniforms. You’re alone in a sea of enemies. The only way you can hold your own is by arrogance, the ability to stand before the crowd.”

The reference to “the crowd” has unhappy resonance in this Covid-mangled season where fans have been replaced by cardboard cut-outs and canned cheering. Following the Cardinals this year has been a challenge, the excitement muted, distant, hard to grasp, with the team missing two weeks’ worth of games due to players testing positive for the virus. Even though chances for a playoff spot look promising, it feels a long way from this time last year when I compared the euphoria of winning vicariously on the field to listening to the second side of Abbey Road (“Fifty Years on Abbey Road: ‘The Love You Take Is Equal to the Love You Make’”).  more

“BROADWAY ONLINE TRIVIA NIGHT”: Broadway performer Kathryn Boswell (above) hosted State Theatre New Jersey’s “Broadway Online Trivia Night.” Boswell read trivia questions, chatted with viewers, and performed a song. (Photo by Corinne Louie)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

State Theatre New Jersey presented Broadway Online Trivia Night on September 16. Kathryn Boswell, a member of the Broadway casts of Gigi and Anastasia, hosted the event.

Boswell performed at the State Theatre in November 2019, as songwriter Cynthia Weil, in the North American tour of Beautiful–The Carole King Musical. Boswell told Broadway Online Trivia Night viewers that the New Brunswick-based theater “was one of our favorite stops as a company. It was so wonderful to be so close to New York City; we felt like we were coming home. It’s just such a … beautiful, welcoming space.”

Broadway Online Trivia Night was hosted via Zoom. A donation, of $5 or higher, allowed viewers to participate in the contest, by using a smartphone-based game app (Kahoot!).

“Proceeds raised support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs,” states a press release. Director of Communications Kelly Blithe elaborates in an email, “The donations are going towards the general community engagement funds which include our Artist-in-Residence program, virtual school programs, the Milk & Cookies series [an interactive storytelling and music program for families], and Ticket Subsidies including free tickets for community partners, charities, and veterans.” more

MUSIC AT MORVEN: The lush grounds behind Morven will serve as host to chamber musicians from the Princeton Symphony Orchestra this fall, starting September 24.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has announced a new chamber music series for fall with live performances held outside on the grounds of Morven Museum and Garden. The three-concert series showcases the talents of the orchestra’s individual instrument sections and features principal musicians.

Concerts take place on select Thursday evenings in September and October. All that is needed to make the setting complete are lawn chairs or a blanket. Seating consists of marked-off, socially distanced “pods” for up to two people, and are available for $35/pod.

The series opens Thursday, September 24 at 5:30 p.m. with the PSO Brass Quintet performing music of the Renaissance period, selections from Bernstein’s West Side Story, and more. The ensemble consists of Jerry Bryant, trumpet; Tom Cook, trumpet; Jonathan Clark, horn; Lars Wendt, trombone; and Jonathan Fowler, tuba. more

Richard Tang Yuk

The Princeton Festival, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving its communities with an annual summer festival of the performing arts, has announced that Richard Tang Yuk, executive and artistic director and one of the organization’s founders, has decided to leave the Festival.

“After 16 wonderful years with the Princeton Festival, I am excited to pass the reins to its next leaders and watch the Festival continue to thrive and move to the next level,” said Tang Yuk. “I will forever cherish the great experiences I enjoyed at the Festival, which is so dear to my heart. They would not have been possible without the support and commitment of our board of trustees.”

Gregory Jon Geehern, the Festival’s associate conductor and assistant to the artistic director, has been appointed acting artistic director. Geehern, a conductor, pianist, singer, and scholar, prepared and led many Festival choruses. more

NEW AT ELLARSLIE: “Messenger,” a wood sculpture by Richard Sanders, left, and “The Worst Part of a Good Day,” a painting by Christina MacKinnon, are featured in “The Conversation Continues,” one of two new exhibits opening on September 26 at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park.

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie  is set to invite the community back for in-person visits beginning at noon on September 26. Ushering in the reopening are the abstract art exhibition “The Conversation Continues,” and the Trenton history exhibition “On the Forefront: Trenton’s Junior 1, 1916,” both in the museum and online.

A timed entry system available at ellarslie.org. Mask requirements, social distancing, museum capacity of 25 persons at a given time, and barriers in the museum store are among the museum’s new safety measures.

“Our two new exhibitions get to the heart of our mission to examine our Trenton history and showcase compelling works by emerging and established artists,” said Trenton Museum Society President Joan Perkes. “We are thrilled to reopen to the public with new programming accompanied by a host of measures that support equally welcoming and safe surroundings. In fact, the subject of our history exhibit ‘In the Forefront,’ echoes a past epidemic as Trenton’s Junior No. 1 had to forego a grand opening and fanfare and open many weeks later than planned due to a polio epidemic in the summer and fall of 1916.” more

“ART AND MUSIC: TOUCHING SOUND”: This work by Susan Hoenig is featured in the Arts Council of Princeton’s newest exhibition, on view September 26 through October 24 in the Taplin Gallery. Featuring paintings, drawings, and sculpture, the show is a collaboration between the Princeton Artists Alliance and Mobius Percussion.

The Arts Council of Princeton now presents “Art and Music: Touching Sound,” a collaboration between the Princeton Artists Alliance and Mobius Percussion. The exhibition, featuring paintings, drawings, and sculpture, is inspired by Mobius’ performance of paper melodies (my music box music) by Jason Treuting, a member of the acclaimed ensemble S Percussion. The show will be on display in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery from September 26 to October 24.  more

September 16, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

I’ve been thinking about the time I saw Frank Capra in person. It was in the late 1970s, in a classroom at Princeton’s Center for the Visual Arts on Nassau Street. The meeting got off to a rocky start when one of the students asked a question that distinguished between art films and popular, commercial movies like It’s a Wonderful Life. Immediately on the defensive, Capra insisted that the artistic value of any work in any medium was ultimately determined by its popularity. Critics, scholars, reviewers be damned! The people had the last say. “All great art is popular!” he insisted, citing Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and da Vinci. “Look at all the people who come to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa!”

The students were a bit rattled. Why was the old guy so touchy? Clearly, he still believed that his populist, upbeat films had been misunderstood and devalued by elitists. I considered weighing in to say how often I’d argued with film-buff friends who scorned It’s a Wonderful Life and invariably cited Fellini’s La Dolce Vita as an example of “great art.” Instead, I said something about Jimmy Stewart’s performance as George Bailey, aware that the mere mention of the other film might only make things worse.

A British Bridge

My bridge from Capra’s Life to Fellini’s Vita is the British film critic David Thomson, who slammed both directors in his Biographical Dictionary of Film (1994). It’s only fair to note that Thomson may have updated his comments in later editions and that when he’s not righteously venting, he writes as well about film as anyone this side of James Agee. That’s why I quoted his thoughts on the “uneasy depths” of It’s a Wonderful Life to close out last week’s column. After giving the film his mixed blessing, however, he couldn’t resist another personal dig: “I think I like Capra less than ever, even if I have become interested in his emotional muddle.”  more

“SUMMER 2020: EONS AT THE SAME TIME”: Fly Eyes Playwrights presented an online anthology of documentary-style monologues. Top row, from left: Sandy Kitain, Mimi Schwartz, Donna Clovis. Second row: Tri Duc Tran, Fulton C. Hodges, Aixa Kendrick. Third row: davidbdale, Joey Perillo, June Ballinger. Bottom row: Carol Simmons, Jill Hackett. (Photo montage courtesy of Fly Eyes Playwrights, and the participating actors)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Fly Eyes Playwrights offered a free online presentation of Summer 2020: Eons at the Same Time on September 10 and 12. The play is an anthology of monologues, derived from interviews in which people react to the convergence of the COVID-19 lockdown and the Black Lives Matter movement.

A press release reveals the project’s origins as an “online documentary theatre course at McCarter Theatre, under the direction of former Artistic Director Emily Mann. After the four-week program ended, the students decided to form Fly Eyes Playwrights and continue their work in documentary theatre, gathering monologues from diverse real-life voices of the moment.”

Summer 2020: Eons at the Same Time is the culmination of the playwrights’ coursework, combined with additional pieces to expand the show into a full-length play. The disparate monologues deftly have been woven together into a thematically unified larger show.

During a post-show discussion following Thursday’s performance, playwright and actor Donna Clovis emphasized that the monologues contain the words spoken by the interviewees. “They’re not our words; we just transcribe them,” Clovis said.  more

AND THE WINNERS ARE: Finalists and top players at The Princeton Festival’s 2019 Piano Competition displayed their trophies in person, but this year’s winners will vie virtually for the honors.

By Anne Levin

For the past 13 years, The Princeton Festival has been holding a piano competition for young musicians ages 6 to 24. More than 100 entrants have been known to take part in the popular event, coming to Princeton from the tri-state area to play works by major composers in front of discerning judges.

The pandemic has changed all that. The event is virtual this year. Judges accustomed to observing the young musicians up close — sitting with them in small piano studios at Westminster Choir College — are instead making their decisions after watching and listening to them online.

A video concert by the finalists will be available on the Princeton Festival website (princetonfestival.org) on Wednesday, September 23 at 6 p.m., with the winners to be announced at the end. Tickets are $10 and streaming will be available until September 27 at 10 p.m. more

OPENING NEW MUSICAL DOORS: Westrick Music Academy is holding new virtual music classes for students of all ages. For information and registration, visit WestrickMusic.org/education.

Westrick Music Academy (WMA), home of Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir, is currently enrolling students of all ages in a variety of music education classes, exploring new ways to build and strengthen musicianship skills.

Young singers in grades 1-2 looking to develop their singing voice and music skills are invited to join Poco Voce. This non-performing music class explores the young singer’s voice. During each lesson, children will focus on tone development and fundamental musical skills, through engaging games and activities. more

“IN CONVERSATION”: The Arts Council of Princeton presents author-illustrators Barbara DiLorenzo and Rashad Malik Davis in a free conversation event via Zoom on Tuesday, September 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) invites the community to join them for “In Conversation” with author-illustrators Barbara DiLorenzo and Rashad Malik Davis moderated by  Timothy M. Andrews, arts collector and major supporter of the ACP’s Artist-in-Residence program, on Tuesday, September 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. 

This curated series of discussions is designed to celebrate and connect those who make art and those who love art. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org to link into the free conversation via Zoom.   more

COMMUNITY ART: Spires, creatively decorated by local artists and community members, will be installed in clusters at more than 20 locations throughout Hopewell Valley as part of “ArtSpires,” the latest community art project and exhibition by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

This fall, colorful sculptures will pop up all around Hopewell Valley as part of “ArtSpires,” the newest community art project and exhibition by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. The spires, creatively decorated by local artists and community members, will be installed in clusters at more than 20 locations throughout Hopewell Valley and will remain on display until spring 2021.

“Now, more than ever, there’s a need for connection,” said Carol Lipson, HV Arts Council executive director, “‘ArtSpires’ is a way for our community to be together while still being apart, to celebrate local artists’ talents, and to shed light on an environmental tragedy.”

A detailed map on the HV Arts Council website will be updated regularly revealing new installation locations. Each work of art will be installed with QR code signs for virtual access to information about artists and artwork. A Facebook live virtual ribbon cutting will be held on September 20 at 3 p.m. Plus, join the public online auction in November 2020 for a chance to own one, with proceeds benefiting the individual artist and the HV Arts Council. more

September 9, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

Actually, the town I had in mind was Califon, N.J.

—Philip Van Doren Stern

The first sentence of the screenplay for Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life calls for a night sequence showing various streets and buildings in “the town of Bedford Falls, somewhere in New York State.”

Above the first sentence of the film’s primary source, Philip Van Doren Stern’s Christmas story, “The Greatest Gift,” there’s a drawing of a despondent looking man leaning on a bridge railing. The “little town” described, “bright with colored Christmas lights,” has no name. In a 1946 interview, the author, a Rutgers graduate who grew up in Jersey City, makes it clear that the place he had in mind was Califon, in Hunterdon County, 37 miles northwest of Princeton. As noted in Wikipedia, the center of town is “the historic iron bridge spanning the South Branch of the Raritan River, which divides the borough.” 

On the Bridge

I’m beginning in Califon because it’s the original setting of It’s a Wonderful Life, not Seneca Falls, New York, the town that has declared itself the model for Bedford Falls by holding an annual festival; it even named a hotel after Clarence, the whimsical angel who appears on the bridge in time to save George Bailey from ending his life. Clarence accomplishes his mission by jumping into the icy waters himself, knowing that George’s instinct to help others is so fundamental that he’ll take the plunge to save a life.

But look what just happened. Even as I’m trying to explain the motive for my online trip to Califon and its historic bridge, I’m still riding the emotional rollercoaster of the film’s final half hour as Clarence shows George the nightmare of Pottersville, a vision of the fate that would befall the community had he never been born and had the town been left to the mercy of Henry Potter, the unredeemed and unpunished banker from hell who makes Scrooge look like a sucker.

In fact, the actual town of Califon is located a mere six miles west of a town called Pottersville, which lies the same distance from the Trump National Golf Club at Bedminster, a domain known as Camp David North or the Summer White House. more

“SENECA”: Pegasus Theatre Company presented an online conversation featuring the film’s co-writer, co-producer, director, and editor Jason Chaet; and its composer, Robert Manganaro. Above: Actor David Seneca (Armando Riesco, left) struggles to be a good father to his daughter Annette (Claudia Morcate-Martin). The film is available on HBO and HBO Max. (Image Courtesy of Kosher Quenepa LLC)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Pegasus Theatre Company of West Windsor premiered its “Intimate Conversations Series” on September 3. The online discussion featured two of the artists behind the 2019 film Seneca: director and editor Jason Chaet, and Princeton-born composer Robert Manganaro. Pegasus board member John Paxton, a teacher and independent filmmaker, curated the conversation.

The event came about because Manganaro is a family friend of Managing Artistic Director Jennifer Nasta Zefutie. “I grew up with Jennifer’s husband, John. He and I have remained close friends for years,” Manganaro says in an email to this writer. “I was best man in his wedding, so it’s fun that this came full circle.”

As a songwriter and performer Manganaro has collaborated with Hamilton star Anthony Ramos on songs including “Ocean City,” “Take Me To The Middle,” and “Freedom.” He has performed the National Anthem at NBA and NCAA basketball games, in stadiums such as the Prudential Center and Barclay’s. He met Chaet through the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where both are on staff. more

Kathryn Boswell (Photo by Corinne Louie)

State Theatre New Jersey will hold Broadway Online Trivia Night, hosted by actress Kathryn Boswell on Wednesday, on September 16 at 7 p.m. Proceeds raised support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs. A minimum donation of $5 allows patrons to participate in the trivia challenge.

To sign up for Trivia Night, go to STNJ.org/Trivia.

The Broadway-themed trivia will be composed of 50 multiple choice questions covering everything from classic musicals like The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof to composers and stars like Stephen Sondheim and Bernadette Peters, to newer musicals like Hamilton and Mean Girls. The first-place winner gets bragging rights as well as a $150 State Theatre gift certificate and a State Theatre swag bag. The second-place winner gets a State Theatre swag bag.

Online Trivia Night will be hosted on Zoom on each participant’s desktop computer and played on the smartphone-based trivia game app called Kahoot. Closed Captioning for this event can be made available by request by emailing info@stnj.org by September 11. more

VIRTUAL CIRCUS: The pandemic has not stopped Trenton Circus Squad, which has planned an online fundraising event for next month. (Photo by Donnie Ramsey)

For the first three months of the pandemic, the Trenton Circus Squad closed its doors in order to come up with a new model for interacting with the community and spreading its mission of inspiring youth to take big leaps in life. The result was Trenton Circus Squad virtual, outfitting the organization with cameras, microphones, and production equipment for “Step Right Up! Plugged In,” a fundraiser taking place October 17 at 7 p.m.

The event will take ticketed attendees to each of the partner organizations in Newark, Asbury Park, Camden, and Trenton to watch the young performers in action, see interviews, hear testimonies, and see participants perform in works inspired by the country’s current state of civil unrest. more

“OPENING LIKE A PARASOL”: This painting by Jessica Mensch is featured in “Here and Now,” the new fall exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art in Bedmister. It will be on view September 11 through December 11. A virtual opening reception will be held via Zoom on Friday, September 11 from 6-7 p.m.

The Center for Contemporary Art (The Center) in Bedminster has announced its new fall exhibition, “Here and Now,” on view from September 11 through December 11.. To celebrate The Center’s 50th anniversary this fall, curators John Yau and Wes Sherman spent over a year assembling the work of 19 contemporary artists. 

The artists featured in the exhibition are Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, Chie Fueki, Evan Halter, Takuji Hamanaka, Barry Hazard, Suzanne Joelson, Judy Koo, Talia Levitt, Jessica Mensch, Phillip McConnell, Ilse Murdock, Nadia Haji Omar, William A. Ortega, Joyce Robins, Stephanie H. Shih, Francesca Strada, Tejaswini. and Peter Williams.  more

“STRANGE WATER”: This painting by Ebony Flag is part of  “Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement,” a nationwide virtual exhibition making its debut on October 3. The deadline for artists to submit, in order to be included in the opening, is September 14, but artwork will continue to be accepted until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.

Since the killing of George Floyd, artworks protesting Black lives lost to police violence have emerged all over the world. “Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement” is a nationwide virtual exhibition created in response to this moment and will be presented on a groundbreaking video platform beginning October 3 at 5 p.m. EST.

“This is a grassroots project welcoming all voices, both professional artists and those who express themselves in other forms,” says Art Against Racism founder and organizer Rhinold L. Ponder.

Contributors are submitting short videos about their projects, discussing why they made this work, how art is a powerful tool for creating a just society, and the urgency of voting in 2020. The interactive exhibition serves as a living archive for preserving the breadth of art inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The exhibition is searchable by contributor’s name and geographic location. more

September 2, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

The day after Charlie Parker’s 100th birthday, I’m driving to the lake listening to “the earliest authentic document we are ever likely to hear of the 20th century giant.” So say the liner notes accompanying Bird in Kansas City, 1940-42 on the Stash CD The Complete “Birth of the Bebop.” Privately recorded, “probably May 1940,” Parker’s variations on “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Body and Soul” seem to be following me as I walk toward the lake. Because of the unguarded intimacy of the sound I feel as if I’ve been eavesdropping on a 20-year-old’s first recording, in which, as the notes have it, “an overall lack of poise underscores the youthfulness of the performance.” Suddenly, strangely, the sense of “being there listening in” is replicated in the here and now by the sound of a saxophone. Someone on the other side of the lake is playing. For a few seconds it’s an eerie continuum, a phantom player exploring variations on “Body and Soul.” As I come to the water’s edge, peering across the lake for the source of the music, still unable to see the person playing, it begins to sink in (reality bites) that what I’ve imagined as some skilled sharer of Birdlore is more likely a clumsy learner, probably a kid in a school band, and that the tune I’ve been hearing as “Body and Soul” is actually “Happy Birthday.” Still, I’m smiling as I walk along the lakeside, listening. It’s nothing more than a birthday coincidence on the day after, a consolation prize, but I’ll take it.

Born Twice

Only a “20th-century giant” like Charlie Parker could encompass two cities with the same name in two different states, the Kansas City he was born in forever overshadowed by the musically renowned metropolis across the river that gave birth to his legend. The city in Missouri is where he found “a spiritual home in jazz,” as Gary Giddins suggests in Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker (Minnesota 2013), “which remains the best single examination of his art and life,” according to the “Charlie Parker at 100” link in Friday’s New York Times.

Curious to learn more about Bird’s actual birth city, I’ve been consulting my copy of the WPA Guide to Kansas, which sits on the book shelf next to the WPA Guide to New Jersey. The placement makes sense: I was born in Kansas and live in New Jersey, my life bookended by the Sunflower State and the Garden State.  more