March 9, 2016

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

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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

March 3, 2016

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March 2, 2016

movie revGrowing up in Cheltenham, Michael Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) told anybody who would listen that he would be an Olympic athlete one day. Although mercilessly teased by playmates and barely tolerated by his skeptical father (Keith Allen), the boy clinged to the unwavering encouragement of his supportive mother (Jo Hartley), who encouraged him to fulfill his seemingly unreachable dream.

Despite being farsighted, born with an unimpressive physique, and bad knees, Eddie pursued a variety of track-and-field events as he was growing up. When none of those panned out, he eventually tried downhill skiing, hoping to represent England in the winter games.

However, after failing to qualify for the Olympics as a racer, he turned his attention to ski jumping where he would have no rivals, because England hadn’t competed in that sport since the 20s. So, he went to Germany — one of the few countries that had the requisite training facilities — to begin his training.

There, Eddie began his quest under the tutelage of Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). First, in order to meet the Olympic’s minimum entry requirements, he had to complete a series of jumps greater than 60 meters.

Of course, that was easier said than done, for it takes not only skill, but a lot of courage to ski headlong down a long ramp and launch yourself into the air. Furthermore, the key to success requires mastering what Bronsan referred to as the “Jumper’s Paradox,” the counter-intuitive instinct to lean forward while in the air, which is the opposite of the natural tendency to straighten up.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill), Eddie the Eagle is a heartwarming adventure describing the actual exploits of the underdog who became a crowd favorite during the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Though initially content just to participate in the games, Eddie became more ambitious as his skills improved.

The movie also makes a passing reference to the Jamaican bobsled team, another group that developed a following in Calgary. Their feats were recounted in Cool Runnings (1993), a picture very similar to this one.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for smoking, partial nudity, and suggestive material. In English, German, and Norwegian with subtitles. Running time: 105 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

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FukushimaLabyrinth Books will host a discussion of two new books at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9: Noriko Manabe’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (Oxford 2015) and Jonathan Pieslak’s Radicalism and Music (Wesleyan 2015).

According to Michael K. Bourdaghs, University of Chicago, “Contrary to widely held stereotypes, Japan has a long and loud history of public protest. As Noriko Manabe shows in her important new book, the massive demonstrations in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster belong to this tradition but also have produced their own distinct soundscape. Her detailed ethnographic and musical analysis of the parts numerous musicians have played in the movement vividly captures the sonic dimensions of this latest chapter from the history of Japanese street democracy.”

In Radicalism and Music (Wesleyan 2015), Jonathan Pieslak discusses music’s transformational impact on the radicalization, reinforcement, and motivational techniques of violent political activists in four radical groups: al-Qa’ida, racist Skinheads, Christian-affiliated radicals, and eco-animal rights militants.
Benjamin J. Harbert, co-editor of The Arab Avant-Garde: Music, Politics, Modernity, calls Radicalism and Music “a well-argued foil to the notion that music is a universal language that brings people together. The subtheme of music and its relationship to the Internet provides important groundwork for thinking of music as a particular ‘information technology’ without divorcing it from its ritual function.”  more

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“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”: This photograph by Olivia Nini, grade 10 — Ken Lockwood Gorge, High Bridge, New Jersey is part of the “Beauty and the Beast — the Fall and Rise of the Raritan River” exhibit at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery on view through March 30.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery presents Beauty and the Beast — the Fall and Rise of the Raritan River,” fine art photography by Princeton Day School students of Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick, head of Upper School photography. Focusing on the historic Raritan River, the images are on view through March 30, 2016.

The Beauty section evokes the river’s course through stunningly beautiful New Jersey locations, home to many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals — many threatened and endangered. The “Beast” segment of the exhibit chronicles effects of the river’s use for transportation; as an energy source for crucial industries; and, tragically, receptacle for toxic wastes.

“We have canoed and photographed the Raritan from New Brunswick to Edison,” says Hohmuth-Lemonick. The Raritan is New Jersey’s longest river and includes the state’s largest contiguous stretch of wildlife habitat. D&R Greenway was founded to preserve land adjacent to waterways such as the Raritan River. more

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EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING: Diana Weymar’s “Telegraph Creek: Tanning a Moose Hide” is part of the Arts Council of Princeton’s new exhibition, “Every Fiber of My Being,” on view in the Taplin Gallery, March 5 – April 17.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents Every Fiber of My Being, a group exhibition featuring textile and contemporary embroidery. Visitors can expect original works from artists Maira Kalman, Amy Meissner, Cassie Jones, Diana Weymar, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel, Danielle Hogan, and Katie Truk. 

Every Fiber of My Being is curated by the Arts Council’s 2016 Spring Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence, Diana Weymar. Growing up in the wilderness of British Columbia, Diana learned the importance and practical value of a vivid imagination. In her artwork, she is interested in how to interact with existing materials — photographs, clothing, text — to address issues of storytelling, identity, narrative, and documentation. more

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“London, Waterloo Bridge” by Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)

To D.H. Lawrence, who died on March 2,1930 at 45, a “painted landscape is the background with the real subject left out.” It’s also where “the English exist and hold their own.”

Clearly, this is a novelist speaking, as well as a poet, philosopher, essayist in many realms, revolutionary, and a painter for whom landscape is the “background to an intenser vision of life.”

Some Serious Fun

As I make my way to the Princeton University Art Museum, I imagine Lawrence by my side looking the way he did to the doctor he hosted for tea and toast only weeks before he died, “a colorful figure with bright blue coat, red hair and beard and lively blue eyes” who “made the toast himself treating the operation as though it were a serious matter and at the same time great fun” — which is how I’d like to treat the subject of this column and the current exhibit, “Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape.” more

Anne_BalletWhen 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

National Youth Art is celebrated during the month of March. Cranbury school student artists will be featured at the Gourgaud Gallery at Town Hall in Cranbury. The show will run from March 6-25.

Stacey Crannage, art teacher at Cranbury School, has selected art pieces from kindergarten through eighth grade to be showcased. Criteria used for selecting the Gallery artwork included technique, originality, and showcasing the student’s unique strengths and talents. Student artwork will include paintings, drawings, and sculpture, amongst others.  more

February 24, 2016

movie rev 2-24-16Jesse Owens (Stephan James) is famous for winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics that took place in Berlin. The track and field events in which he competed included the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, the long jump, and the 4×100 meter relay race.

What makes Owens’ feat so remarkable is that he had to overcome not only racism at home but the prejudice that he encountered in Germany’s Nazi notions about Aryan whites being a master race. So, not only did he have to deal with discrimination in the States but the prejudices of Adolf Hitler (Adrian Zwicker) and the Nazis.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space), Race is a biopic that has much more to offer than an account of Jesse’s historic achievements. In addition to recreating the tension surrounding each of the contests, the picture devotes considerable time to developing the protagonist’s personality.

As the film unfolds, we learn about Jesse’s roots in Cleveland, and that he was the first of his family’s ten children to attend college. When he left for Ohio State, he already had a baby (Yvanna-Rose Leblanc) with Ruth Solomon (Shanice Banton), the childhood sweetheart he would eventually wed and remain with until his death in 1980.

At the university, Jesse forged a close relationship with his track coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), who also served as a surrogate father. And when Snyder’s competence was being undermined by bigoted officials on the U.S. Olympic Committee, he decided to pay his own way in order to accompany his promising protege to the games in Berlin.

In Germany, Jesse was shaken to be greeted with the N-word. He was equally shocked to see signs in stores declaring “No Jews or dogs allowed.” Nevertheless, he managed to block out the madness all around him and concentrated on performing in the Olympic stadium to the best of his ability.

When Jesse, instead of the Aryan athletes, won medals, Hitler was so infuriated that he refused to shake Jesse’s hand, even though that was the proper protocol for gold medal-winners. Despite pressure from the Führer and Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat) to follow suit, German long jumper Carl “Luz” Long (David Cross) went out of his way to embrace the champion who had been ostracized on account of his skin color. The two remained friends although Carl perished while fighting on the front lines in World War II.

Regrettably, Jesse’s reception back home wasn’t much better. Unfortunately, the White House never publicly acknowledged his remarkable achievements. The movie is an inspiring and long overdue tribute to a great patriot and African American icon.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, and ethnic slurs. In English and German with subtitles. Running time: 134 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.

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The 88th Annual Academy Awards takes place this Sunday, February 28, 2016. The awards ceremony was first broadcast to radio in 1930 and televised in 1953. It is now seen live in more than 200 countries. This year’s ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre is Los Angeles and is hosted by comedian Chris Rock. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Academy Award of Merit, which has become commonly known by its nickname, Oscar.

As an ode to the prestigious ceremony, Princeton Magazine has selected a series of unique products inspired by the nominees. To purchase, click on each product image.

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Princeton Magazine is continuing the Oscar celebration with a selection of dazzling gold products.

The Oscar gold was spread around last night with Spotlight winning Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; Leonardo DiCaprio taking home Best Actor for The Revenant; Mark Rylance and Alicia Vikander were named best supporting actor and actress, respectively, she for The Danish Girl; and Brie Larson took the best actress prize for Room.

Shop Gold! Simply click on each product image to purchase.

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Art Nassau

The Nassau Club will host an exhibition, “Landscapes,” from March 6 to May 1 by Hopewell artist Ken McIndoe. There will be a reception on Sunday, April 3, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Nassau Club, located at 6 Mercer Street, Princeton. Call (609) 924-0580 for exhibition hours. The show and reception are free and open to the public. The artist has been painting in New Jersey since 1960 and has been teaching a studio class at the Art Students League in New York City since 1981. He was a recipient of two New Jersey State fellowships, has exhibited frequently, and is represented in several private collections. Pictured above is McIndoe’s 22 x 30” oil on canvas titled, “Summer Clouds.”

Art Navajo

The Silva Gallery of Art at the Pennington School is hosting “Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America,” by portrait photographer and social documentarian Matika Wilbur, until March 9. This photograph features Bahazhoni Tso of the Navajo Nation.

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

“She’s a gutsy girl,” says Jennifer Jason Leigh. “A little bit of an animal.” Leigh’s talking about Daisy Domergue, the character she plays in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, a supporting role that has brought her an Oscar nomination, the first of her long career. Even if she wins, it won’t excuse the Academy’s failure 20 years ago to recognize her once-in-a-lifetime performance as Sadie Flood in Georgia (1995), a film written by Leigh’s mother Barbara Turner and directed by Ulu Grosbard.

In a featurette about The Hateful Eight, producer Stacy Sher says of Daisy, “She’ll try anything, she’ll push it all the way, she’s crazy like a fox: you don’t know if you should feel sorry for her, you don’t know if you should despise her.” According to co-star Walton Goggins, “Jennifer just takes it to a place where we’re all looking at each other, did you see that? did you see what she did with that?” more

Theater revWhen Dawn Breaks, an original play created and directed by Princeton University sophomore Nico Krell, is based on 1,001 Nights, but this is an “immersive” theater experience, so you will surely get less, and more, than you expect, as the actors lead you out of your seat, onto the stage, under the stage, into dressing rooms, workroom, hallways, greenroom, lobby, and every corner of the Hamilton Murray Theater.

You will encounter, at least in part, the familiar story of Scheherazade and the brutal King Shahryar, who, in anger at his first wife’s infidelity is determined to marry a new bride each day and execute her at dawn. But after three years, Scheherazade offers herself to the king and tells him a bedtime story so captivating that he decides to postpone the execution so that he can hear the end the next day, and the stories continue for 1,001 nights.

There’s little evidence here of the stories Scheherazade tells — “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” “The Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” — that make up the original 1,001 Nights (sometimes called The Arabian Nights), but the story of Scheherazade (Anna Zabel); King Shahryar (Tom Dowling); her sister Dunyazade (Anastasia Repouliou); her father Jafar, who is the king’s vizier (Daniel Krane); the king’s brother Shah Zaman (Jake Hamel); Delilah, the ghost of the king’s former wife (Julia Mosby); and Azraq, a genie (Glenna Yu), is richly developed during the 70-minute production.  more

February 17, 2016

movie rev 2-17-16Oscar-winner Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) has been challenging the power structure ever since releasing Roger & Me in 1989. That ground-breaking exposé indicted General Motors for the outsourcing of jobs which led to the devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Over the intervening years, Moore has tackled a variety of controversial topics including the Iraq War (Fahrenheit 9/11), the healthcare industry (Sicko), and the global financial crisis (Capitalism: A Love Story), to name a few.

With Where to Invade Next, he sets his sights on the subject of American imperialism. You may remember that the Bush Doctrine, announced by President George W. Bush in 2002, asserted the United States’ right to wage preemptive war whenever it was deemed in the national interest. Relying on that doctrine, Moore circumnavigates the globe visiting countries with cultural and social features that are worth emulating.

However, instead of conquest with intent to plunder, the object is to borrow ideas from the ‘invaded’ countries that might improve our quality of life. For example in France, he asks public school cafeteria chefs how they manage to serve their students such fine cuisine as compared to the fare American children are forced to settle for. And his mission in Finland is to discern why its educational system is far superior to ours, while in Italy he describes the generous employment benefits, not only for maternity leave, but for honeymoons as well.

This faux invasion mockumentary features Moore in virtually every tableau. Fortunately, his tongue-in-cheek brand of humor is frequently sublime, and his earnest arguments are often persuasive, even if the format feels a little stale.

Very Good (***). Rated R for profanity, drug use, violent images, and brief nudity. In English, Italian, French, German, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Arabic with subtitles. Running time: 110 minutes. Distributor: Dog Eat Dog Films.

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Celebrate man’s best friend. 

Princeton Magazine has hand-selected our favorite gifts for dog lovers. Check out the many Scottish terrier, French bulldog, and Labrador Retriever motifs in the form of clothing, accessories, and home decor. Simply click on each product image to purchase!

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Pinot’s Palett located on 127 Village Blvd. in Forrestal Village will be painting “Poppies à la Van Gogh” on Sunday, February 21 from noon to 3 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the Princeton Youth Ballet (PYB). In celebration of PYB’s 10th year as the region’s premier pre-professional company, they will be bringing a new ballet, “Cinderella,” to the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center on May 14 and 15. As a not-for-profit organization, they rely on donations and volunteers to help with performance preparation and ongoing annual operational costs. All net proceeds from the event will go to PYB. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to start time. Light refreshments will be served, the event is BYOB.

I fell in love with Shakespeare watching Richard Burton play Hamlet. If there was a specific moment when I “lost my heart” (you could as easily say “found my heart”), it came in the scene where Hamlet tells the players to “speak the speech” the way he pronounces it, and “to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature.”

In an essay about his youthful love of the plays, William Dean Howells recalls feeling that “in his great heart” Shakespeare “had room for a boy willing absolutely to lose himself in him, and be as one of his creations.” I was in my early 20s when Hamlet’s rousing speech to the players brought me into Shakespeare’s “great heart” and made me feel that the man who wrote the play was in the room speaking directly to his creations. more