June 26, 2019

BEST IN SHOW: Megan Serfass of West Windsor won Best in Show for her painting, “Goldfinches,” at the “Mercer County Artists 2019” juried exhibit. On view through July 8 at The Gallery at Mercer on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College, the show features the work of 36 artists from throughout the county.

A recent Mercer County Community College alumnus took home the Best in Show award as 36 artists from throughout the county displayed their creations during the opening reception of the Mercer County Artists 2019 show at The Gallery at Mercer, on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College (MCCC).

“There were 182 pieces submitted for the juried show, and the juror had an amazingly difficult time selecting the art for the show,” said Alice Thompson, director of The Gallery at Mercer. “She was here several hours making the selections. Congratulations to all of the artists who are represented on these walls.”

Claiming the prize for Best in Show was Megan Serfass of West Windsor, who graduated from MCCC in 2018 with an A.A.S. degree in illustration, for her oil on wood painting Goldfinches. As one of the younger artists to have their work selected for the very competitive show, Serfass said she could barely believe her ears when her name was called during the reception. more

June 19, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

While the St. Louis Blues were on the way to their first Stanley Cup with Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” as their victory anthem, I was celebrating the centenary of Nat King Cole (1919-1965) with submersive listenings to the 4-CD set, Cool Cole: The King Cole Trio Story. My message for the Blues’ crosstown brothers the St. Louis Cardinals was delivered by repeated playings of Cole’s hit from 75 years ago, “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I’d convinced myself that the song deserved some credit for the April surge that lifted the Redbirds from the depths to the best record in baseball. Alas, true to the song’s built-in warning, “Cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top,” the Cards cooled way down and blew it, losing every series they played in the unmerry month of May. Nat gave me a message for that, too, in “Lost April,” which played in my mind with a slight change in the lyric, “I thought a single win could lead to heaven, but the month had numbered days, and winning couldn’t last.” In the actual lyric, it’s “kiss” for “win” and “love” that couldn’t last, but the way Nat sings it, there’s more to life than winning and losing, the healing has begun, and life goes sadly smiling on.

As a devoted follower of the National Pastime who once lost his voice cheering for his team, Cole knew the bumpy road from high to low, the symbiotic relationship of baseball and the blues. He loved all sports, and having played W.C. Handy in the 1958 biopic The St. Louis Blues, he’d have undoubtedly been delighted when the NHL expansion team from St. Louis was named for Handy’s most famous composition. more

By Nancy Plum

There is a relatively new performing ensemble in Princeton focusing on repertoire for a specific set of instruments. Founded in 2016, Princeton Symphonic Brass draws players from other area ensembles to explore music written specifically for brass instruments — horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, and tuba. This past Saturday night, Princeton Symphonic Brass presented a concert of “City Lights, Latin Nights” in the recently renovated Hillman Performance Hall at Westminster Choir College. Led by conductor Lawrence Kursar, the 11 brass and two percussion players of Symphonic Brass performed to an appreciative audience and showed some fancy footwork on instruments often performing from deep in the background of an orchestra. Dressed casually and sitting in a semi-circle in the hall, the members of the ensemble created an informal performance atmosphere which did not detract from achieving high technical standards.

Most of the works performed Saturday night were pieces for other instrumental combinations arranged for brass ensemble, giving the audience the chance to hear familiar or new repertoire with different orchestral colors. The program explored music of Latin American composers, as well as a few American works reflecting Spanish flavor or influence. Symphonic Brass opened the program with an iconic fanfare tailor-made for brass — Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, composed as a concert season-opener in World War II and arranged for this group by trumpet member Ed Hirschman. The four trumpets of the ensemble were well blended and rhythmically precise, presenting a clean dialog between upper and lower brass. more

SEASON OPENER: The cast of William Finn and James Lapine’s play “Falsettos,” which begins the season of Princeton Summer Theater on June 20. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

As the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising brings the state of LGBTQ+ rights in America to the forefront of the national conversation, Princeton Summer Theater (PST) will open its 2019 Season on June 20 with William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos, directed by PST Artistic Director Daniel Krane.

A reworking of two earlier one-act musicals by Finn, Falsettos begins a decade after Stonewall. The first act, set in 1979 and written in 1981, chronicles the shifts in family dynamics that arise after New Yorker Marvin (Michael Rosas) leaves his wife Trina (Bridget McNiff) for another man (Whizzer, played by Dylan Blau Edelstein). This turmoil develops into something darker in the second act, written in 1991, which skips forward two years and finds the play’s characters unwittingly facing the beginnings of the 1980s AIDS crisis. more

ALL ABOUT JAZZ: Jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford is among the professionals who will teach at the Summer Jazz Institute July 29-August 2. The one-week workshop at Mercer County Community College’s Trenton location is open to high school and college students. Stafford is show here at last year’s workshop.

Young people looking for an immersive experience in jazz music this summer should head to Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) downtown campus. MCCC presents its 2019 Summer Jazz Institute, a master class for high school and college students July 29 to August 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The intensive one-week workshop takes place in Trenton Hall at 137 North Broad Street on the college’s James Kerney Campus (JKC).

MCCC Music faculty member Scott Hornick is coordinating the program for the second consecutive year and will teach some of the classes. “The best comment from last summer was from a student who said, ‘I can’t wait to go back to my high school and tell them what they missed!’ It is an intense week where the students do music for eight hours each day. By the end of the day, they were tired but excited,” he said. more

“DENVER CENTRAL LIBRARY, SOUTH FAÇADE”: This graphite and colored pencil drawing by the late architect and designer Michael Graves is one of nearly 5,000 recently acquired by the Princeton University Art Museum. Graves founded his eponymous practice in Princeton in 1964, and taught architecture at Princeton University for 39 years, retiring in 2001.

The Princeton University Art Museum recently acquired a significant group of drawings by renowned American architect and designer Michael Graves (1934-2015). The nearly 5,000 drawings, which come to the Museum from Graves’s estate, span the entire range of his subject matter and design concerns, and will form an important resource for researchers, designers, and Museum audiences. Graves founded his eponymous practice in Princeton in 1964 and taught architecture at Princeton University for 39 years, retiring as the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture Emeritus in 2001.

“We are pleased to be able to preserve and share these important drawings, which document numerous projects and reflect Michael Graves’s manifold interests and talents, here at the Museum, where he was known as family, and with our global audiences,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. more

“GUARDIAN”: Sculptor Peter Drago used reclaimed tools to create this work featured in “The Immigrant Experience,” on view on the grounds of the 1719 William Trent House Museum June 22 through November 3. Works by Peter Abrams, Kate Graves, and David Robinson will also be on display. An opening reception is June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Trent House Association will present a sculpture exhibit, “The Immigrant Experience,” on the grounds of the 1719 William Trent House Museum, 15 Market Street, Trenton. It will be on view June 22 through November 3, with a reception open to the public on June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.

According to the Association, once settlers from across the ocean began to inhabit the lands of the Lenape on the banks of the Delaware, Trenton has been home to immigrants — both to those who came here willingly, seeking jobs and opportunity for a better life, and to those who came under duress. The William Trent House, its inhabitants, its surroundings, and its circumstances represent that history. more

“BEST MOUNTAIN, COMMUNE, GUILIN”:  This brush painting by Thomas George is just one of his works on display at the Princeton Public Library through June 30 in conjunction with the Princeton Festival’s modern opera “Nixon in China.” The paintings will also be shown in the lobby of the Matthews Theatre in the McCarter Theatre Center during performances of the opera on June 23 and 30.

The Princeton Public Library, in collaboration with the Princeton Festival, is hosting a display of paintings of scenes in China by Thomas George (1918-2014). The internationally-celebrated artist and Princeton resident created the brush paintings in the wake of the opening of U.S. relations with that country by President Nixon in 1972. more

June 12, 2019

By Anne Levin

With former McCarter Theatre Producing Director Mara Isaacs the winner at Sunday’s 2019 Tony Awards for the Broadway musical Hadestown, and several other alumni of the Princeton theater honored in various categories, Artistic Director Emily Mann is a proud mama of sorts.

“We’re so thrilled for everyone. It’s really exciting,” Mann said Tuesday, two days after the annual awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Hadestown, which Isaacs co-produced, won eight awards including Best Musical. “Mara — what an amazing grand slam home run she’s made,” Mann continued. “She’s been working on it for years, and what a job she’s done.”


Author Diane Ciccone will discuss her new book, Into the Light: The Early African American Men of Colgate University Who Transformed a Nation, 1840-1930 on Thursday, June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the West Windsor Arts Council in the Florence B. Hiller Studio, 952 Alexander Road.

On the eve of the bicentennial of Colgate University, Into the Light details years of research into the lives of the early African American men who attended Colgate when it was an all-male school. The book examines the lives of more than 50 African American Colgate men, including, Jonas Holland Townsend, a friend and confidante of Frederick Douglass and the first African American to attend Colgate; Samuel Archer, president of Morehouse; and Adam Clayton Powell, the Harlem Congressman.

A member of the first class of women at Colgate as well as a former councilwoman and the former director of the West Windsor Arts Council, Ciccone will be on hand to sign copies of her book. She now works as a practicing attorney and arbitrator in New York City, and was the producer of the award-winning documentary, Acts of Faith, which documents the first integrated planned housing development in New Jersey.

By Stuart Mitchner

Anne Frank was born 90 years ago today. When she turned 13 on June 12, 1942, she was given a diary. A week later, after a long entry about her birthday and her friends and before she and her family began life in the “secret annex,” she imagines “that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.”

Writing about the schoolgirl’s musings in Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife (2009), Francine Prose meditates on the fact that “the most widely read and enduring masterpiece about that brutal era [1942-1945] was written by a girl between the ages of 13 and 15.”

In The Ghost Writer (1976), Philip Roth calls Anne Frank “a marvelous young writer,” comparing her to “some impassioned little sister of Kafka’s.” C.K. Williams says “I thought of you at that age, Little Sister” in his poem “A Day for Anne Frank,” which begins with children running back and forth in a filthy alley, “the girls’ screams suspended behind them with their hair … their feet pounding wildly on the pavement.”


By Nancy Plum

For close to six decades, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra has been offering a comprehensive range of orchestral training programs to young musicians in the area. This past Saturday night, GPYO presented its Senior Division Spring Concert, showcasing the winner of the Orchestra’s annual Concerto Competition. This year the competition was won by oboist Michael Chau, a senior at South Brunswick High School, who demonstrated musical talent and composure well beyond a student just graduating from high school. Chau easily mesmerized the Richardson Auditorium audience with his versatility and technical skill, performing one movement from a Mozart oboe concerto with GPYO’s flagship ensemble, the Symphonic Orchestra.


“SHE LOVES ME”: Performances are underway for “She Loves Me.” Directed by David Kellett, the Princeton Festival’s production of the musical runs through June 30 in the Matthews Acting Studio at Princeton University. Coworkers Georg (Tommy MacDonell, left) and Amalia (Amy Weintraub) have a contentious relationship, but they unknowingly have exchanged love letters. (Photo by Jessi Oliano)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The 15th anniversary Princeton Festival includes the Broadway musical She Loves Me. Directed by David Kellett, this presentation of the charming romantic comedy boasts exquisite musical performances, as well as elegant choreography and production design.


SUMMER CHAMBER MUSIC: The Horszowski Piano Trio returns to Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts at Richardson Auditorium Thursday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

On Thursday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m., the Horszowski Piano Trio performs at Richardson Auditorium as part of Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts. Selections by Haydn, Schumann, and Shostakovich are on the program in this free concert.


Sarah Stryker

Shakespeare ’70 returns to Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre for its annual tribute to The Bard. This year the celebrated company presents Macbeth Fridays, June 21 and 28 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, June 22 and June 29 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, June 23 and June 30 at 2 p.m.


SWING, MARCHES, AND MORE: At the Mercer County Symphonic Band’s concert at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on Wednesday, June 12, the program will range from Stravinsky to swing music from the 1940s. The annual spring concert ends with the traditional Sousa march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Admission is free. Visit mercerband.org.


Art All Night Trenton will return to the Roebling Wire Works June 15 and 16, following months of hard work by the event’s staff and volunteers, and lots of community support. Art All Night 2019 will be the same free and open-to-all event, full of art, music, food trucks, live mural painting and more, but the full event footprint will be fenced off, with many important new security measures in place to ensure the event is safe and trouble free.

Art All Night will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 15, and end at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 16, but no new entries will be allowed after midnight Saturday, with the event fully closed to the public between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday, when public entry resumes.


TOP PRIZE: Jerry Cable of Stockton was awarded the top prize for his painting “Time Out” at Hamilton Jewelers’ “The Art of Time Exhibition,” presented in conjunction with its 20th annual Watch Fair event on June 1. Cable is shown with Hamilton Vice President Donna Bouchard.


“TULIPES `A FRENCHTOWN”: This photograph by Laura Orbine of Frenchtown was chosen as the winner of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s Spring 2019 Photo Contest. The contest’s purpose is to highlight photography representing the beauty, diversity, function, and significance of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has announced that Laura Orbine’s photograph, titled Tulipes `a Frenchtown, was chosen as the winner of the commission’s Spring 2019 Photo Contest. Thirty-five photographs were submitted by 11 individuals for the contest.


“FIRST STONE”: This color lithograph by Helen Frankenthaler is featured in “Helen Frankenthaler Prints: Seven Types of Ambiguity,” on view June 29 through October 20 at the Princeton University Art Museum. The exhibit will feature more than 50 prints by the artist, spanning five decades and more than a dozen printmaking processes, including lithography, woodcut, etching, and engraving.

One of the most influential artists to emerge from the mid-20th century, Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) may be best known for her innovative abstract paintings in which she poured washes of color over great expanses of raw canvas. She was also the most prolific printmaker of her generation. Frankenthaler’s print works are remarkable for the diversity of techniques she employed, the number of studios with which she collaborated, and the ways in which her engagement with printmaking could parallel — simultaneously independent and in sync with — her practice as a painter.


“SING”: This work by Beatrice Bork will be featured in “Breathing In,” a joint exhibition with Laura Rutherford Renner. It will be on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville July 4 through August 4, with an opening reception on July 6 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

“Breathing In,” on view July 4 through August 4 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, will feature the work of artists Beatrice Bork and Laura Rutherford Renner. It is a visual ode to the everyday inspirations that life continually gifts us. Working in their respective mediums of watercolor and oil, the fine art displayed will include, according to the Gallery, “the “canine and feline friends who entwine themselves into our hearts and make every day a little better” — along with birds, animals, and contemporary life that both artists are well known for.


June 5, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Tell me a story of deep delight.
— Robert Penn Warren

On the heels of the controversially rushed, truncated final season of Game of Thrones, HBO has released Deadwood: The Movie, the final chapter of David Milch’s “story of deep delight,” the series brought to an equally untimely and even more unfortunate end in 2006.

While the distinguished novelist/poet/critic Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) may seem an unlikely godfather for such a work, the depth of his influence is made clear in Mark Singer’s recent New Yorker article, “David Milch’s Third Act.” Anyone who has kept faith with Deadwood during the long wait for this moment should read Singer’s piece, as well as Alan Sepinwall’s outstanding appreciation in Rolling Stone. Far more significant than the revelation that Milch has Alzheimer’s is what Singer’s profile shows about how the lessons Milch learned from his mentor at Yale have given Deadwood the literary magnitude that sets it apart from other HBO masterworks like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones.


Princeton University Concerts’ 126th season will be a celebration of American musicians and composers. At the opening in October, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents a program entitled “New World Spirit” which explores the lineage of American classical music. The season continues through to the spring when the Dover String Quartet makes its Princeton University Concerts debut.


In its final concert of the season at Richardson Auditorium on Friday, June 7 at 8 p.m., the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Xian Zhang, will perform selections from Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. Visit njsymphony.org for information. (Photo by Fred Stucker)

SUMMER AT THE BARRE: Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, is offering Summer Intensive Junior and Intermediate programs in Princeton and Cranbury. All classes begin June 24. Registration is now open.

Princeton Ballet School begins its Summer Intensive Program this summer with a variety of courses at different levels. Classes begin June 24.