Johann Sebastian Bach never heard a complete performance of his now classic Mass in B Minor in his lifetime, but over the past 150 years, this five-part work has become a staple of the choral repertory. Loaded with instrumentally-conceived choral coloratura and exacting counterpoint, the Mass in B Minor is considered a pinnacle of choral performance toward which choruses aspire. The Princeton University Glee Club undertook this vocal and instrumental challenge last Sunday evening with a historically informed and clean performance in Richardson Auditorium. Conductor Gabriel Crouch led the 80-voice Glee Club, chamber orchestra, and four vocal soloists in a performance which was lean, sensitive to the text, and strong to the very last note. more
Musical protest helps the Japanese “to voice what they cannot ordinarily express in words” according to Princeton resident Noriko Manabe’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (Oxford $27.95). It’s a formidable work: 433 pages, 35 pages of notes, a nearly 15-page-long bibliography, with web icons interspersed throughout the text highlighting links to pronuclear public relations videos, press conferences, music videos, extensive footage from anti-nuclear demonstrations and rallies, plus color photos on a companion website. more
The Richardson Chamber Players closed its 2015-16 season with a concert of French musical bonbons at Richardson Auditorium, featuring a number of Princeton University music department faculty and students. Continuing a mission of presenting music one rarely hears live, Director Michael Pratt programmed a performance of chamber music from the early part of the 20th century which might have been heard in Parisian salons and concert halls. more
Amos Lee will perform at McCarter Theatre with special guest Mutlu Onaral on Sunday, May 15 at 7 p.m. For more than a decade, Lee has been at the forefront of a new generation of singer-songwriters, drawing inspiration from James Taylor and John Prine. His hit single “Arms of a Woman,” put him on the map. His 2010 album “Mission Bell,” also reached the top of the charts. Ticket prices start at $25. To order, call (609) 258-2787 or visit www.mccarter.org.
Westminster Conservatory will observe the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare by presenting three faculty recitals in April.
On Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. “Shakespeare Revisited” will offer new compositions based on texts and themes of Shakespeare by Westminster composers. On Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. “Shakespeare in Song” will feature members of the Westminster Conservatory voice faculty performing settings of Shakespearian texts from the 18th to 21st centuries. These two recitals are part of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Series and will take place in Gill Chapel on the Rider University campus in Lawrenceville. Admission is free. more
The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Programs in Dance and Theater present there.remaining… a dance-theater fusion of text, movement, music, and projections, created and directed by senior Ogemdi Ude and featuring original music by Lewis Center Resident Musical Director and Composer Vince di Mura. Performances will take place on April 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The production is free and open to the public, however, advance tickets are recommended and are available through arts.princeton.edu. more
On March 28 at 6:30 p.m., more than 200 singers will gather on the Mayo Concert Hall stage at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) campus in Ewing. TCNJ students will perform alongside five high school choirs from Japan who all come from the region affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster. The performance is part of Project Hand-in-hand, which aims to support the recovery of the Japan disaster by using music to support cultural exchange and communication. This will be the fourth time in five years that TCNJ has partnered with Project Hand-in-Hand. more
Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) Executive Director Marc Uys returns to his musician roots when he performs live at the PSO’s Spring Chamber Concert Sunday, March 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). Uys, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and soprano Mary Mackenzie will perform works by composer and former Princeton University professor Edward T. Cone, IAS’s Artist-in-Residence Sebastian Currier, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
Written nearly 50 years apart, Cone’s Duo for Violin and Harp and Currier’s Night Time are significant contributions to the repertoire, reflecting the influence of Béla Bartók’s compositional symmetry and rhythmic manipulation upon their individual styles. Also on the program is Saint-Saëns’ Violons dans le soir, based on the eponymous poem by Anna Elizabeth Mathieu.
Prior to joining the PSO, Uys was concertmaster of New York City-based Arcos Orchestra and assistant concertmaster of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. He collaborated with harpist Jacqueline Kerrod in the duo Clockwise, touring South Africa performing premieres of newly commissioned works by 10 South African composers. In 2007 he led performances of Philip Miller’s Rewind – A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony, including its world premiere in Cape Town and U.S. premiere in New York. more
MURDER LURKS: Mollie (Jessica Bedford) finds herself in the midst of a deadly intrigue, in an isolated old manor house, cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by an odd assortment of complete strangers, one of whom is a murderer, in McCarter Theatre’s production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” the longest running play in the history of English theater. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap opened in London in 1952, and 64 years later, after more than 25,000 performances, it is still playing, by far the longest running show in theater history. Though McCarter’s current rendition of the classic murder mystery will run only two more weeks, until March 27, the high-energy, captivating Matthews Theatre production displays vividly the lasting appeal of this show. Whether you’re a whodunit aficionado or not, this show with its eight finely drawn, deftly presented characters and its rich visual appeal is highly entertaining from start to finish. more
This season, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director, Rossen Milanov, have dedicated programming to the creativity of women, and this past Sunday afternoon’s performance at Richardson Auditorium featured one of the more creative artists on the music scene today. Composer Caroline Shaw, who doubled as violinist soloist in her own Lo for Violin and Orchestra, crossed many genres of music as both composer and performer. These multiple genres of music thoroughly permeated her three-movement work, which was effectively played by the Princeton Symphony. With movements delineated by tempo markings rather than titles, Lo seemed to be semi-autobiographical, showing bits and pieces of many composers whom Ms. Shaw has credited with influencing her own creativity. more
The first African-American expedition to climb Denali, North America’s highest peak, is the subject of An American Ascent. The film is being screened Saturday, April 2, as part of the Princeton Environmental Film Festival at Princeton Public Library. Now in its tenth year, the festival features a line-up of more than 25 acclaimed films with filmmakers and other speakers presented over the course of 7 days. For a complete list of festival films, and updates on speakers, see princetonlibrary.org.
Each year, the Princeton University Orchestra holds a concerto competition, allowing student performers to select their own repertoire and challenge themselves for a chance to perform with the orchestra. Some students might play it safe and choose music of the old masters, but not this year’s winners. Soprano Solène Le Van, violinist Jessie Chen, and pianist Evan Chow selected works of the 20th and 21st centuries, showing musical diversity and a deep range of curiosity. Led by conductor Michael Pratt, the University Orchestra presented these three winners this past weekend in Richardson Auditorium. more
Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital presents an adventurous program at McCarter Theatre on Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m. Accompanied by accordionist Ksenija Sidorov and percussionist Itama Doari, Avital will perform works spanning from Bach concertos to Bulgarian and Turkish folk tunes. To purchase tickets, call the box office at (609) 258-2787 or visit www.mccarter.org. (Photo by Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon)
Les Noces de Jeannette (Jeannette’s Wedding Day) is a two-person opéra-comique composed by Victor Massé in 1853 to a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. The opera, which some consider to be Massé’s best work, revolves around the wedding ceremony of Jean and Jeannette, two villagers in 19th-century France, that goes horribly wrong when Jean runs from the altar, leaving Jeannette as the laughing stock of the village. more
When Mary Pat Robertson and her husband Michael came from New York City to Princeton in 1980, she thought she’d be retiring from her dance career. But the town, where the Robertsons moved so that he could pursue his doctorate at Princeton University, turned out to have a lot more dance to offer than she expected.
It wasn’t long before Ms. Robertson began teaching at Princeton Ballet School. Six years later, she was named the school’s director. In June, she will step down after 35 years teaching and administrating hundreds of students, some of whom have gone on to professional careers.
“I’ll miss the kids,” she said during a telephone interview last week. “But it’s time. I’ll probably do a little private coaching, and I look forward to getting back to choreography. I’ve been doing a lot of public speaking and I hope to expand that. I’m even contemplating writing a book for parents about what to look for in a ballet school.”
While ballet has played a major role in Ms. Robertson’s long career, contemporary dance has also been a focus. Before becoming the ballet school’s director, she co-founded the company Teamwork Dance and did a lot of freelance dancing and choreography. In New York, she studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham, and Martha Graham. more
Princeton Theological Seminary’s (PTS) annual Joe R. Engle Organ Concert will be held on Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. in Miller Chapel, located on PTS’s Princeton campus. The concert is open to the public and free of charge.
Featuring Jonathan Dimmock, the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, and organist and choir director at St. Ignatius Church and Congregation Sherith Israel (both in San Francisco), as well as the Princeton Seminary Singers and the Nassau Presbyterian Church Adult Choir, the concert will include psalm-based works by J.P. Sweelinck, Felix Mendelssohn, Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Albert de Kierk, Bert Batter, Cary Ratcliff, and Robert Nicholls. more
Choral music can be a tough sell, and sometimes it takes a star to bring new audiences into the fold. The Princeton University Glee Club has been a “star” in its own right, and the “Glee Club Presents” series, begun in 2013, has packed venues on and around campus with audiences eager to hear the chorus collaborate with international performers. The University Glee Club presented the fifth concert in this series this past weekend, filling Richardson Auditorium for a joint performance with the renowned vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Fresh on the heels of the Glee Club’s tour to South Africa, Saturday night’s concert showed the chorus reaching well into its own diversity, as well as the international performing arena. more
In recent years, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra has expanded its offerings to include both a Chamber and Pops series, among others. The Pops series has been in place for more than a decade, attracting new audience members and giving the musicians a chance to explore a different genre of repertoire. This past Saturday night, the Princeton Symphony treated the audience at Richardson Auditorium to some of the “greatest hits” from the movies — just in time for Academy Awards month. more
EXPLORING ISLAMIST EXTREMISM: (left to right) Playwright Emily Mann, scholars Dr. Stuart Gottlieb, and Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi and moderator Paula Alekson discuss with the audience the issues raised at Sunday’s performance of Ms. Mann’s new play “Hoodwinked.” (Photo Courtesy of McCarter Theatre Center)
“It’s about the 21st century’s responses to Islamist extremism,” Emily Mann explained in describing her documentary drama Hoodwinked, performed as a reading in the McCarter Theatre Center Lab last weekend, “but it’s also very much about asking questions and sharing information.” The drama was a springboard for a lively discussion. more
Since his arrival as conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra six years ago, Jacques Lacombe has sought out unique partnerships, including two previous collaborations with The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. On the Princeton leg of his “farewell tour” before leaving the NJSO to take the helm of the Bonn Opera Company in Germany, Mr. Lacombe and the NJSO presented a concert with many levels of collaboration — among ensembles, artists, and artistic disciplines.
Friday night’s concert in Richardson Auditorium brought together the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and Montclair State University Prima Voce women’s chorus for a semi-staged production of Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although labeled “incidental music,” which the composer provided for an 1843 performance of Shakespeare’s play, Mendelssohn’s score has long stood on its own as a crowd-pleaser and as accompaniment to dance productions. more
A BLOODY TALE FROM ANCIENT GREECE: Evelyn Giovine. a senior in Princeton’s Program in Theater, will perform the title role in Sophocles’ “Elektra,” opening February 5 at the Lewis Center for the Arts. (Photo Credit: Hawa Sako)
The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Elektra by Sophocles, the classic, dark, bloody tale of familial vengeance from ancient Greece, is explored anew by guest director Alexandru Mihail and senior Evelyn Giovine in the title role. Performances will take place on February 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13 at 8 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street. more
WATCH AND LEARN: Teaching a recent master class at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, New York City Ballet principal dancer Ashley Bouder urged students to stand behind more experienced dancers in their classes and learn by copying what they do. She is nearly six months pregnant with her first baby, due at the end of April.
At nearly six months into her pregnancy, Ashley Bouder’s ballerina silhouette is interrupted by a small, round bump. But the acclaimed New York City Ballet principal dancer, who taught a recent master class at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, remains as lithe as ever. more
HUMOR AND HUMANITY: (L to R) Lymon (David Pegram), Wining Boy (Cleavant Derricks), Doaker (John Earl Jelks), and Boy Willie (Stephen Tyrone Williams) share stories and memories of the past in McCarter Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Piano Lesson” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 7. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)
Twenty-eight years after its original creation, 90 years distant from its Depression-era setting in the Pittsburgh Hill District, August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson (1987) speaks powerfully, lyrically, and eloquently of an African-American family in conflict and of their past, which they must confront, embrace, and overcome in order to move forward. more