December 30, 2015

Civil War Flags

The New Jersey State Museum will hold a special unveiling of 100 historic flags carried by New Jersey’s troops during the Civil War on Wednesday, December 30 at noon. The flags are some of the most distinctive in the collection and have not been on display for a number of years. Included will be the national colors of the 3rd and 15th Infantry regiments, the state colors of the 33rd Infantry regiment, a guidon from the 3rd cavalry, and a rare General McAllister’s headquarters Second New Jersey Brigade flag.  more

December 23, 2015

movie rev 12-23-15In 2002, Will Smith received his first Academy Award nomination for his role in Ali, a riveting biopic about Muhammad Ali directed by Michael Mann. Smith managed to disappear into the role of Muhammad Ali and delivered a brilliant performance as “The Greatest” boxer of all time.

Despite Ali’s being able to “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” the sport subsequently exacted a devastating toll on the champ. Ali developed a host of neurological disorders as a consequence of taking so many hits to the head.

While fans call it being “punch drunk,” the clinical term for the condition is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Ironically, Will Smith may receive another Oscar nomination for Concussion, a picture in which he plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian born physician who discovered the link between football and brain damage when he was a forensic pathologist in Pennsylvania.

Omalu first recognized something was amiss while performing an autopsy on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ former center Mike Webster (David Morse), who died at 50 while suffering from a combination of amnesia, depression, and dementia. Dr. Omalu was shocked to observe that, as a result of CTE, the Hall of Famer had the brain of a

very old man, so he decided to posthumously examine the brains of other National Football League veterans who had also died prematurely.

Lo and behold, the research revealed that they all had suffered from CTE, presumably as a result of the pounding their skulls had received on the field. Unfortunately, when Omalu tried to go public with his findings, he was threatened and discredited by an army of lawyers and doctors hired by Commissioner Roger Goodell (Luke Wilson) to protect the NFL’s image.

 Concussion is reminiscent of The Insider (1999), an exposé recounting the ordeal of the whistleblower who took on the tobacco industry when it was denying any link between smoking and cancer.

The movie was directed by Peter Landesman (Parkland). He adapted it to the screen with the help of investigative journalist Jeanne Marie Laksas from an article titled “Game Brain” that she had written about the attempted cover-up in the October 2009 issue of GQ magazine.

Landesman surrounded Smith with a talented cast, starting with the gifted Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Omalu’s feisty wife Prema. The cast also includes Oscar nominees Alec Baldwin (The Cooler) and Albert Brooks (Broadcast News); and Hill Harper, Richard T. Jones, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Eddie Marsan.

 Concussion is a marvelous Will Smith vehicle, one that he just may drive all the way to the Oscars on Sunday, February 28th.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, and disturbing images. Running time: 123 minutes. Distributor: Sony Pictures

Herrera BookRevBrian Eugenio Herrera, assistant professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University, has received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for his book, Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance, which examines Latino representation and Latino artists in American theater and culture. The Nathan Committee took particular note of the analysis of the success and impact of the 1957 musical West Side Story.

The Nathan Award, administered by Cornell University’s Department of English, has been given annually since 1959 for “the best piece of drama criticism during the theatrical year.” Named for theater critic George Jean Nathan, the award realizes his “object and desire to encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.” Awardees are selected by a majority vote of the heads of the English departments of Cornell, Princeton, and Yale universities. The award carries a $10,000 prize and is considered one of the most generous and distinguished in the American theater.

“I still can’t imagine my name among that august list of Nathan honorees,” said Mr. Herrera. “It’s humbling, really. But I am just so unapologetically proud that this year’s Nathan award recognizes a Latino writer writing about the long history of Latina/o performance in this country.” more

PU Art Museum

Princeton University’s upcoming exhibition, “By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War,” consists of more than 160 books, maps, manuscripts, prints, and paintings, including some of the earliest novels, plays, scientific treatises, and religious works produced by Jews in the United States. The exhibition is based on the loans and gifts to Princeton University from Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953, as well as loans from museums, libraries, synagogues, and private collections. The exhibit will open on Saturday, February 13 and be on view through June 12. Pictured above is a work by American-born Thomas Sully, “Rebecca Gratz, 1831,” an oil on panel from The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.

There might be as many ways to perform Handel’s oratorio Messiah as there are to cook a holiday turkey — how many “sides” and “dressings” there are to the performance is at the discretion of the conductor from a myriad of choices in historical versions, soloists, phrasing, tempi, and ornamentation. December Messiah performances in Princeton are usually the domain of local choruses, but last weekend conductor Jacques Lacombe brought the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra NJSO) to Richardson Auditorium for a presentation of Handel’s immortal choral/orchestral work.

It was clear from the outset of the performance that Mr. Lacombe was very familiar with the work, exploring unique ideas in instrumentation and selection of arias. For Friday night’s concert, Mr. Lacombe looked back to the 1743 London performances of the piece, with an orchestra resembling Handel’s original ensemble. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra onstage included chamber-sized contingents of strings, as well as a pair of trumpets and oboes, a single bassoon, timpani, and both harpsichord and portative organ. Conducting without a baton, Mr. Lacombe began the opening “Overture” with decisive double-dotted rhythms, yet found grace and elegance with small sweeps in the lean string playing.  more

A struggle between a family’s enduring legacy and its chance for a brighter future takes center stage in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, running January 8 through February 7 at McCarter Theatre.

Winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, The Piano Lesson is set in 1930s Pittsburgh, revolving around the Charles family and the fate of an ancient piano covered in carvings. To reclaim his family’s legacy, Boy Willie (Marcus Callender) wishes to sell their priceless heirloom, but will his sister Berniece (Miriam A. Hyman) and the ghosts of their past stand in his way? more

record revA good way to go in this life is to find something you really enjoy doing and then learn to do it better than anybody. — Chet Baker

Tis the season to be jolly and celebrate Chet Baker, who was born on this date, a day short of Christmas Eve, December 23, 1929. What does the man whose trumpet and voice put West Coast jazz on the map have to do with Christmas? You could ask the same of the weather, with 72 degrees predicted for Christmas Eve, or of Bob Dylan, whose album, Christmas in the Heart, was reviewed here on the same day of the month six years ago.

Online you can join the patrons of an Amsterdam jazz club watching Chet Baker play “Auld Lang Syne” on the last New Year’s Eve of his life, December 31, 1987. He begins in a tentative, almost desultory way before the momentum of the moment moves him and he makes a gesture to the rhythm section, as if to say really play it, take it to the limit, give it the full measure of your devotion, and with that he dives into the second chorus, bending the notes just so, as only he can do, each one as bright and simple as the lights on a Christmas tree.  more

December 16, 2015

movie rev

THIS IS OUR BIG CHANCE TO REALLY CLEAN UP: Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is discussing, with his three fellow investors, the results of his analysis of the stock market that is predicting the upcoming burst of the real estate bubble and is strategizing ways that they can make money when the bubble bursts. (Photo by Jaap Buitendijk – © 2015 Paramount Pictures)

Michael Lewis’s The Big Short was an eye-opening best seller describing the actions of four Wall Street analysts (played by Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt) who correctly foresaw the global financial crisis of 2008. They made a lot of money by investing in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) in anticipation of the collapse of the market in Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO).

In layman’s terms, they bet that the real estate bubble would burst because of the easy money that was being lent to unqualified borrowers via subprime mortgages. The banks didn’t mind making the so-called NINJA loans (No Income/No Job) since they would quickly sell the worthless mortgages to unsuspecting investors as soon as the deals were completed.

Despite many decent performances from the cast members, the screen version of The Big Short fails to do justice to the source material. The movie is Adam McKay’s first time directing a dramatic film. The veteran writer/director has a successful career in films that are comedies, with movies that include Anchorman (2004), Talladega Nights (2006), Step Brothers (2008) and The Other Guys (2010), The Campaign (2012), Anchorman 2 (2013) and Get Hard (2015).

The film suffers from a few glaring flaws. The first is that the names of all the key players have been changed. Since this is based on a true story, resorting to fictional characters lessens the intensity of a story that could’ve been more compelling.

The movie is further trivialized by a failure to commit fully to the dramatic importance of the serious subject matter. After all, since no one has been held responsible for the crash, many people are still angry about the billion dollar bailout of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

Equally annoying are several celebrity cameos by chef Anthony Bourdain, Australian actress Margot Robbie, and pop diva Selena Gomez. During distracting, fourth-wall breaking appearances, they face the camera to explain the meaning of derivatives and other arcane financial instruments. Apparently, McKay included these interludes to make his script more accessible.

The movie is a disappointingly dry lecture in finance that squanders the services of an A-list cast that has Academy Award-winners Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, and Christian Bale, and nominees Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell.

Fair (*½). Rated R for nudity, sexuality, and pervasive profanity. Running time: 130 minutes. Distributor: Paramount Pictures

books revSixteen years after its original release, Princeton University and Neighboring Institutions (Princeton Architectural Press, $34.95) returns in a new, expanded edition that features the historic and contemporary campus.

Compiled by Robert Barnett, Princeton University features a collection of 13 walks, each including an introductory essay detailing both historical and contemporary issues related to featured buildings, landscapes, and artworks situated throughout the campus. Readers are taken on a tour past such locations as the Princeton University Art Museum, Graduate College, and newly added neighboring institutions including the Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study.

With illustrated, aerial perspective maps guiding the reader around the campus, Princeton University takes an in-depth look into the University’s architectural history. As current Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber states in his foreword, “This magical place — captured so thoroughly and beautifully in this guide — has inspired students, alumni, faculty, staff, and visitors since the university […] moved to Princeton in 1756. This book will enable you to trace the remarkable evolution of our campus, and that of our neighboring institutions and town, from the colonial period to the modern day.”  more

Art Rutgers“Donkey-donkey, Petunia, and Other Pals: Drawings by Roger Duvoisin” will be on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University through June 2016. Duvoisin’s remarkable children’s book illustrations have charmed and captivated generations of young readers.

Born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1904, Roger Duvoisin came to the United States in the mid-1920s to work as a textile designer. In 1932, he created A Little Boy Was Drawing, his first children’s book, which he wrote and illustrated for his son. Duvoisin eventually became a popular illustrator for more than 140 children’s books, 40 of which he authored. Until his death in 1980, Duvoisin resided in New Jersey.

In addition to A Little Boy Was Drawing, the exhibition features illustrations for Donkey-donkey: The Troubles of a Silly Little Donkey (1933); White Snow, Bright Snow (1947); Petunia (1950); A for the Ark (1952); Nubber Bear (1966); The Old Bullfrog (1968); The Web in the Grass (1972); The Crocodile in the Tree (1972); Snowy and Woody (1979); and The Happy Lioness (1980).  more

The Princeton University Orchestra sent its members home for the holidays with a concert of music ranging from chipper and lively to toweringly rich. Friday night’s performance of the University Orchestra at Richardson Auditorium (the concert was also presented Thursday night) combined the vibrant brass of 16th-century Giovanni Gabrieli with the melodic lyricism of Franz Schubert, topped off with the symphonic complexity of Gustav Mahler.

Conductor Michael Pratt began the concert Friday night with a nod to the season with a selection from Gabrieli’s extensive antiphonal brass choir repertory. Three brass quartets stood around the Richardson balcony, while Mr. Pratt directed traffic from the stage. Each choir was scored slightly differently, with the opening center choir showing off crisp trumpets on the rhythms of Gabrieli’s Canzon a 12. The horns, trombones, and tubas of the other two brass choirs supported the sound well as the antiphonal music soared around the hall. more

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is receiving a 2016 Art Works award from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help fund a community engagement project centered on Hiraeth, a new work by Princeton composer Sarah Kirkland Snider. The work was co-commissioned by the PSO in honor of its 35th anniversary celebrating the creativity of women, a tribute to Ms. Snider’s first teacher and founding artistic director of the PSO, Portia Sonnefeld.

Upon learning of the Art Works award, PSO Executive Director Marc Uys said, “It’s terrific to receive this recognition from the NEA as it validates our mission to continue to bring new music to our patrons and the greater Princeton community. Beyond being a talented woman, Sarah is quite simply a talented composer, with whom we are very fortunate to work.” more

DVD the killing

He sat back, checking only to see if the tape was still running, lit his pied piper, and gave ear. — John Lennon, from Skywriting by Word of Mouth

On one of this December’s rare rainy afternoons a dark green 2000 Honda CRV pulls into a deserted parking lot and sits idling while the male occupant talks urgently into his cell phone. Ten minutes later a silver-gray 2011 CRV pulls up alongside. Rolling his window part way down, the man in the green car calls out “Yo Linden!” and the woman in the silver car laughs and shouts back “Holder!”

The couples’ playful nod to Linden and Holder was inspired by their total immersion in the rain-drenched world of The Killing, where two Seattle detectives are trying to capture the Pied Piper, a serial killer so named because his victims are teenage girls, street kids selling sex to make ends meet. more

December 9, 2015

movie rev 12-9-15

SHOULD I OR SHOULDN’T I?: While vacationing in the Swiss Alps, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine, left) ponders his decision with his best friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel). Fred has been offered a knighthood in exchange for conducting his most popular composition at a birthday party for Prince Phillip. However, Fred wants to refuse the offer in order to reflect on his mortality and mend his relationship with his daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz, not shown). (Photo by Gianni Fiorito© 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) has chosen to withdraw from the limelight after a successful career as a celebrated composer and conductor. He’s presently staying at a scenic spa in the Swiss Alps where he’s vacationing with his daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz) and his his best friend, filmmaker Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel).

Well into their 70s, Mick is working on the script for his next movie with the help of five young collaborators. It turns out that Mick’ss son Julian (Ed Stoppard) is married to Lena, who has just been dumped by him in favor of a British pop singer (Paloma Faith, who plays herself).

While reminiscing with Boyle and soothing his daughter’s fragile psyche, Fred gets a surprising request to come out of retirement by an emissary (Alex Macqueen) from the Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth II is offering Fred a knighthood in exchange for conducting his most popular piece, Simple Songs, at Prince Philip’s impending birthday concert.

However, Fred decides to decline the command performance that comes with the honorary title. He has shed any desire to perform in public and instead prefers to meditate on his mortality and devote his time to give Lena the attention he denied her as a child. We learn that she still hasn’t forgiven him for focusing so selfishly on classical music during her formative years.

Thus unfolds Youth, a surreal mix of heartfelt introspection and escapist fantasy reminiscent of Federico Fellini. The movie was written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) who juxtaposes a variety of jarring images in the movie that are certain to leave a lasting impression, even if you’re not quite sure what to make of the visually captivating scenes.

Caine and Keitel are at their best, albeit in an inscrutable adventure that deliberately does its best to defy definition.

Very Good (***). Rated R for profanity, sexuality, and graphic nudity. Running time: 118 minutes. Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

EH 4907P

Photograph of Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia in 1952 posing in front of Waldo Peirce’s oil portrait of the author in 1929. (The Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

The best news I’ve heard lately is that Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has become a bestseller in France in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. With sales surging, copies of his bittersweet celebration of life and art in the City of Light are appearing among the flowers and candles in makeshift memorials honoring the victims. The title in French, Paris est une fête, has become a trending hashtag on Twitter.  more

PU Art Museum

On Saturday, January 23, 2016, the Princeton University Art Museum will unveil “Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape.” Showcasing masterpieces by artists from Constable to Turner to Monet — working in Britain, the exhibition offers new insights into the cultural history of Britain as it became the world’s first industrial nation late in the 18th century. This oil on canvas by Claude Gelee titled “Landscape with St. Philip Baptizing the Eunuch, 1678” is among the artworks that will be on display. 

McGukianFilm director, writer, and producer Mary McGuckian will discuss her recent film, The Price of Desire, about Irish architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, on Friday, December 11 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, 185 Nassau Street. Part of the 2015-16 Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, the event is free and open to the public.

The film, which premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival earlier this year, is set substantially in and around Gray’s most abiding work, the villa E.1027 at Roquebrune Cap Martin in southern France, now recognized by many as the first fully fledged modernist house ever constructed. The drama explores the controversial events and details surrounding Le Corbusier’s effacement, defacement, and eventual erasure of Gray’s authorship and ownership of the one of the most important houses of the 20th century.

Gray is regarded as a cult figure among collectors of her work. This film is part of the Eileen Gray Project (2014-15), which includes a companion documentary, Gray Matters, by Marco Orisini, as well as a series of limited edition Eileen Gray Project Portrait Prints by Julian Lennon, and various other projects designed to bring Gray’s life and work to the public’s attention.  more

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents Sarah Donner in a Holiday Soiree on Saturday, December 12 at 8 p.m. The concert will be held in the ACP’s Solley Theater at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street.

Donner is known for her bright musical melodies and ballads. She will be joined by guitarist and vocalist Amanda Duncan and Chris Q. Murphy. Tickets are $12 ($10 for ACP members, students, and seniors).

Parking is available in the Spring and Hulfish Street Garages. For more information, visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777.

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Art Evening

“SOFT EVENING”: Gail Bracegirdle’s watercolor pictured above is among the works by the Artists’ Gallery’s 16 artists who will be exhibiting at the Gallery’s annual holiday show “Small Works in a Small Town.” The exhibit runs from Thursday, December 10 until Sunday, January 31, 2016 during which time patrons can purchase smaller artworks that make perfect holiday gifts.

The Artists’ Gallery’s (AG) 20th annual holiday exhibition, Small Works in a Small Town, runs from Thursday, December 10 until Sunday, January 31, 2016. The show predominately features smaller artworks by the gallery’s 16 artists that are perfect for holiday gifts. An Open House with the artists will be held at the gallery, located at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville on Saturday, December 12 from 1 to 7 p.m.; light refreshments will be served. more

December 2, 2015

movie revWhen most people think of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), what automatically comes to mind is the image of a gutsy underdog who holds his own in the boxing ring against a variety of imposing adversaries. Each installment of the series has been about the buildup leading to a riveting championship bout between the underdog and a world champion.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Creed is a spin-off that pays homage to that tried-and-true formula but also departs from the series’ successful formula. The change is that this film devotes attention to character development in addition to ratcheting up the tension leading to the showdown bout.

The picture reunites Coogler with Michael B. Jordan, who starred in his directorial debut, the critically acclaimed Frutivale Station. In Creed, Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, a juvenile delinquent who’s had several scrapes with the law because of his quick temper and a tendency to settle arguments with his powerful fists.

Just past the point of departure, the hot-headed Adonis is informed by Apollo Creed’s (Carl Weathers) widow (Phylicia Rashad) that he is the illegitimate son of Rocky’s original opponent.

Fast-forward a few years, where we learn that Adonis has learned to channel his anger and explosive might by becoming a boxer. Over the objections of his adoptive mother (Mrs. Creed) he decides to follow in his father’s footsteps.

He moves to Philadelphia to find Rocky who is now running a restaurant called Adrian’s. Adonis prevails upon the ex-champ to serve as his trainer. Rocky agrees on condition that he change his surname to Creed. Soon Adonis rises in the ranks to become the number 1 contender and lands a title fight with Pretty Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellow).

In addition, Adonis falls in love with his next-door neighbor, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), an aspiring hip-hop artist who is on the verge of success. Away from the gym, he also spends time with Rocky, and even gives him some heartfelt advice that just might save his aging mentor’s life.

This engaging seventh episode can rightfully claim to be a highly recommended spin-off of the legendary series.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, and sensuality. Running time: 95 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.

Hillary Chute and Richard Dienst will be at Labyrinth Books on Wednesday, December 15 at 6 p.m. to discuss Ms. Chute’s new book Disaster Drawn, about the ways in which graphic narratives document the disasters of war.

Investigating how hand-drawn comics have come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways in which graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document war. Ms. Chute demonstrates why, even in the era of photography and film, people understand hand-drawn images to be among the most powerful forms of historical witness of war. more

Art Zink

ZINK’S “MERCER MAGIC” TALK: Clifford Zink will talk about his new book, “Mercer Magic: Roeblings, Kusers, The Mercer Automobile Company and America’s First Sports Car,” on Sunday, December 13, at 2 p.m. at Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum. The cost is $5 for members of the Trenton Museum Society and $10 for non-members. Pictured above is a photograph of New Mercers lined up at the factory for road testing in 1912.

Clifford W. Zink, the foremost expert on the Roebling family and the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, talks about his new book, Mercer Magic: Roeblings, Kusers, The Mercer Automobile Company and America’s First Sports Car, on Sunday, December 13, at 2 p.m. at Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum, in Cadwalader Park, Trenton. The cost is $5 for members of the Trenton Museum Society and $10 for non-members.

Mercer Magic is a story of Trenton’s entrepreneurship, innovation, and national achievement in the exciting first decades of the 20th century when the new technology of automobiles was sweeping the country.

Members of the Roebling and Kuser families started the Mercer Automobile Company in 1909 to build automobiles “in a class by itself,” and that’s what they did. Mercer Automobile Company produced fine touring and sporting cars, most notably the two-seater Raceabout, which an amateur sportsman could drive around town during the week and take to the local track to race on weekends.  more

Art Provincetown

“DRIZZLY PROVINCETOWN DAY”: This 18×24 acrylic and collage on canvas is an example of local artist SiriOm Singh’s artwork. There will be an exhibition at the Blawenburg Café in Skillman displaying Singh’s “’scapes,” which include landscapes, seascapes, and inner scapes. The artist sees all images as portraits to create structures that have a personality and become living things that serve as a testament to how we care for our world. Singh’s exhibition will be on display until Friday, January 8.

Local artist SiriOm Singh will be displaying his art in Skillman’s Blawenburg Café located at 391 County Road 518 in Blawenburg until Friday, January 8. The work can be viewed weekdays from 7 a.m.–4 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m.–3 p.m. There will be an artist reception on Friday, December 5 from 6-8 p.m.

Singh sees himself as an abstract expressionist. He uses acrylic and collage applying layering techniques, primarily with a pallet knife, to create images that are intended to help the viewer experience inner peace, love, and unity.

The show displays recent images of landscapes and seascapes, some painted on location, and some recreated in the studio, from memory, or from the artist’s imagination. Singh sees all images as portraits – representations of our humanity and our need to plant ourselves solidly in the world. more

(Filmframe)

(Filmframe)

When Bogart tells Bergman “We’ll always have Paris” as they say their farewells in Casablanca, he’s responding to her plaintive question “What about us?” For Rick and Ilsa, Paris is another word for love. “We lost it until you came to Casablanca,” he tells her. “We got it back last night.”

While the city of the title is a Moorish fantasy fabricated on a back lot at Warners with stock footage of an overview, Paris is the absolute that will always be the City of Light as Humphrey Bogart will always be the epitome of cool, Ingrid Bergman the epitome of beauty, and “As Time Goes By” the theme song of their romance.

When the two lovers were reunited in Rick’s night club, they talked of the last time they were together, in a Montmartre cafe called the Belle Aurore on the day the Germans marched into Paris. “Not an easy day to forget,” said Rick. “I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.” more

For its annual Thanksgiving weekend concert this year, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) looked back through music history. NJSO concertmaster Eric Wyrick served as both conductor and violin soloist for three works harking back to the days before conductors formally stood in front of orchestras. Friday night’s NJSO performance in Richardson Auditorium showed the nearly full house how an instrumental ensemble can work within itself to create music rooted in solid communication and musical trust.

In his career, Mr. Wyrick has had extensive experience as both a follower and a leader in an ensemble; in conjunction with his position as concertmaster of NJSO, he regularly appears as soloist with orchestras worldwide and has recorded an extensive repertory. Friday night’s concert was centered on Antonio Vivaldi’s early 18th-century concerto set The Four Seasons, for which Mr. Wyrick served as violin soloist. In the four concerti selected, a chamber-sized NJSO demonstrated the true orchestral intricacy of 18th-century music with themes passed among players and complex musical conversations. Mr. Wyrick brought The Four Seasons into the 21st century by playing off an iPad, and added a wealth of 19th and 20th-century interpretive style to music which is sometimes considered repetitive. In this performance, nothing was boring, and there was tremendous variety in dynamics, contrast, and melodic lines.  more