June 23, 2021

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Festival closed its 2021 season this past Sunday night with an “Opera by Twilight” live concert at Morven Museum and Garden. For this final concert, also livestreamed to listeners at home, the Festival presented a quartet of singers performing selections from opera, operetta and musical theater. Soprano Alexandra Batsios, mezzo-soprano Krysty Swann, tenor Michael Kuhn, and baritone Stephen Gaertner, accompanied by pianist Julia Pen Ying Hanna, brought vast collective experience to a stage outside Morven’s Stockton Education Center and entertained the “podded” audience with arias and duets from both well-known and rarely-heard works.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operas are among the repertory’s most accessible, with melodic arias and appealing characters. Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio dates from the height of the composer’s operatic career, with the Act II defiance aria “Matern aller Arten” being a challenge for the soprano voice. Mozart seemed to like to torture sopranos in particular with large melodic skips and vocal lines racing up and down scales, but soprano Batsios, who opened the Festival concert with this bear of an aria, had no trouble with its technical difficulties. She had a second chance later in the concert to further demonstrate her command of coloratura singing in an aria from Mozart’s 1791 Singspiel The Magic Flute. “O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” is the first aria performed by the Queen of the Night as she announces her power. Batsios well conveyed the grief of the opening recitative section, then expertly launched into running passages reaching up to “F” above high “C.” Batsios was joined in the third Mozart selection, a duet from the comedic Così fan tutte between the wealthy Fiordiligi and Ferrando (engaged to Fiordiligi’s sister) by tenor Michael Kuhn. “Fra gli amplessi” conveys the two characters proclaiming their mistaken love for each other, and Batsios and Kuhn blended their voices together well with clean intervals and the tenderness inherent in the music. Both singers demonstrated solid high registers, and Batsios in particular showed her ability to camp out on high notes for extended periods of time.  more

JOINING FORCES: Princeton Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Yvonne Marcuse and The Princeton Festival Board Chair Benedikt von Schröder (seated, foreground) sign off on legal documents formalizing the agreement to merge their two arts organizations. Standing are merger committee members PSO Board Vice Chair Stephanie Wedeking, PSO Executive Director Marc Uys, and former Festival Board Chair Costa Papastephanou.

By Anne Levin

A merger has been announced by two of Princeton’s best-known music organizations. The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the Princeton Festival have joined forces under the legal entity Princeton Symphony Orchestra Inc. The Princeton Festival will retain its name as an artistic program of the PSO.

“The merger capitalizes on the strong positions and proven resiliency of both organizations coming out of the pandemic,” PSO Executive Director Marc Uys said in a press release. “With strong artistic leadership, we will pave the way to a new era of creativity, making high-quality performing arts more available to our community and beyond.”

During an interview, Uys said the PSO’s Artistic Director Rossen Milanov will continue as director of the combined organizations. Gregory Geehern, who has been the Princeton Festival’s acting artistic director since founder Richard Tang Yuk left last fall, will be the Festival’s director, operating under Milanov’s guidance.

While patrons of both organizations will not notice dramatic changes in programming, the merger does allow for some new approaches. “People who identify with certain aspects of the Festival are not going to see a dramatic change,” Uys said. “But we want to introduce new things as we go along. This is both a defensive action in terms of what we’re building ourselves to be, which is more resilient. But it is also an almost aggressive action to be proactive.” more

COFFEE AND MUSIC: Cellist Dan Kassel performs at Small World Coffee’s Witherspoon Street location on Saturday, June 26 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

After more than a year’s hiatus, Small World Coffee has resumed hosting local musical talent. Cellist Dan Kassel will play at the 14 Witherspoon Street location on Saturday, June 26 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Using an acoustic cello, a Boss RC-50 looping station, and minimal effects, Kassel bridges the gaps between Klezmer and Irish folk, Indian classical and down-tempo electronic music, levity and suspense.

Once Small World Coffee is able to expand their hours again, the shows will start later. For more information, visit smallworldcoffee.com.

“SOMETHING ABOUT TIME”: This painting by Bill Jersey is part of “Explorations,” on view June 26 through July 25 at Stover Mill Gallery in Erwinna, Pa. The exhibit features 30 landscapes by the award-winning Lambertville artist.

Beginning June 26, Stover Mill Gallery will feature more than 30 landscapes by artist Bill Jersey in “Explorations.” The exhibit runs through July 25.

When the award-winning filmmaker moved to Lambertville 12 years ago he embraced his first love — oil painting. His first submission to the Phillips Mill curated show earned him an award and a sale to Gratz Gallery.

The rich landscapes of Bucks and Hunterdon counties, Jersey says, “are all I need to move me to pick up brushes and paints,” but he slips in a few earlier works from Vermont and California to round out his presentation. more

SUMMER MURALS: Arts Council of Princeton artists are shown at work on a recent mural. The ACP will partner with Princeton Shopping Center to bring a series of new murals to its outdoor courtyard this summer.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) and Princeton Shopping Center have announced a new series of murals as part of a new public art initiative for the outdoor courtyard located at 301 North Harrison Street.

The first in the series of three murals designed by a team of ACP artists will come to life at the end of June on the interior courtyard wall between Princeton Mattress and Smith’s ACE Hardware. The mural theme will reflect Princeton Shopping Center’s resolution to “bring on the joy” at a time when communities are craving reconnection and opportunities to interact. This artwork will be on display through this fall, when a new design inspired by the changing seasons will be installed.

The mural series is scheduled to run through spring 2022, with each delivering a burst of renewed energy and opportunity to reflect on significant messages. more

“I GOT MY EYES ON YOU”: This painting by Morris Docktor is part of the “Ellarslie Open” annual juried exhibition, on view June 26 through October 1 at the Trenton City Museum in Cadwalader Park. The show features 137 works of art in varying styles.

The “Ellarslie Open” will return to the Trenton City Museum June 26 with its largest exhibition to date. Sidelined in 2020 by the pandemic, the Museum’s annual juried show will fill five galleries with 137 artworks of varying styles in categories from paintings and sculpture to digital and fiber arts.  more

“SNOWY DAWN”: This award-winning oil painting by Francisco Silva is featured in the Artsbridge Annual Members’ Art Exhibition, on view through June 30 at artsbridgeonline.com.

The Artsbridge Annual Members’ Art Exhibition continues online through the end of June showcasing a wide variety of work that celebrates the energy and inspiration of the Delaware River Valley.

From realistic to abstract, impressionist to contemporary, visitors to the online gallery and collectors will find 3-D works, including sculpture, ceramics, and fiber art; watercolor, pastels, prints, and drawings; photography and digital art; and acrylic and oil paintings.

Carol Cruickshanks, artist and executive director of New Hope Arts, juried the show, awarding works in five mediums: 3-D — Shuttering by Bonnie MacAllister; watercolor/pastel/drawing — Benjamin Franklin Bridge by Christine Seo; photography and digital art — Solitude by Susan Hollenbeck; acrylic painting — Four Years and an Hour by Robert Hansen; and oil painting — Snowy Dawn by Francisco Silva. In addition, The Ty Hodanish Award for Oil Landscape was awarded to Ilene Rubin for her painting Moonlight Sonata.

Visitors to the online exhibition had the opportunity to choose their favorite work until May 1. The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama, went to Robert McBride for Golden Hour, Anker Park, a pastel on paper.

Go to artsbridgeonline.com to view the online exhibition.

June 16, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Begin the day at a simple gravestone in the Princeton cemetery, SYLVIA BEACH 1887-1962. From there it’s only a stone’s throw to Sylvia Beach Way, the lane that runs behind the Sands library building, one of Princeton’s most popular dropping-off, picking-up spots. Across town is Library Place, where Sylvia and her family lived before she moved to Paris and opened Shakespeare and Company in 1920; in her eponymous memoir, she wonders if the name of the street influenced her choice of a career in the book business. Her father Sylvester Beach (Princeton Class of 1876) was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, where, according to Sylvia’s friend Annis Stockton, the horses of Washington’s staff had once munched their oats in the pews, a tidbit the author of Ulysses would have appreciated.

A Funny Little Publisher

When James Joyce despaired of ever finding a place for Ulysses, which had been preemptively banned in the English-speaking countries, Sylvia Beach asked him if he would let Shakespeare and Company “have the honor” of bringing his book out. He accepted the offer “immediately and joyfully.” Describing the moment, Beach admits thinking it “rash of him to entrust his great Ulysses to such a funny little publisher.” As Joyce’s wish was to have the first copy off the press on his 40th birthday, February 2, 1922, she promised to make that happen. When the printer, who was located 300-plus kilometers from Paris, said that it couldn’t be done, she insisted otherwise. Came the day, she received a telegram telling her to meet the 7 a.m. express from Dijon, which she did, her heart “going like the locomotive” as the train “came slowly to a standstill and I saw the conductor getting off, holding a parcel and looking around for someone – me.” Soon she was ringing the doorbell at the Joyces’ and handing the author “Copy No. 1 of Ulysses.” more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Festival moved its season outdoors and in-person this past week with two concerts by the Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra. The first concert, last Tuesday night, was not as live as the audience might have liked — with thunderstorms throughout the area, the five members of the Festival Baroque Orchestra relocated themselves to the Stockton Education Center at the Morven Museum and Garden, while the audience listened via livestream. The second concert on Thursday night was held outdoors (with a livestream option), with the players inside the Education Center and an audience in pods on the lawn. The two concerts, subtitled “Sacred and Profane,” created a comprehensive survey of European music and forms of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tuesday night’s performance featured eight pieces divided into two groups — “sacred music in content” and “sacred music in context.” Violinists Chiara Fasani Stauffer and Manami Mizumoto (who also doubled on viola), cellist Morgan Little, and harpsichordist Caitlyn Koester were joined by Joshua Stauffer playing “plucked instruments,” which both nights featured the 17th-century theorbo. The four “sacred music in content” pieces were mostly from early 17th-century Italy. Three chamber works were played with quick and energetic spirit by the Festival Orchestra, with both violinists effectively conveying melodic material. A rarely-heard Trio Sonata in F Major by the under-rated but nonetheless influential German composer Johann Casper Kerll flowed well, as Stauffer and Mizumoto maintained a graceful violin conversation against steady continuo playing of the other three instruments.  more

BACK ON STAGE: New Brunswick’s State Theatre NJ will reopen for its Broadway season in November. “Hairspray” is among the shows planned. (Photo by Chris Bennion and Jeremy Daniel)

State Theatre New Jersey has announced its 2021-22 Reopening Broadway Season, featuring 10 shows in a fully renovated theater including brand-new theater seats. The 2021-22 Season will feature Tony Award-winning hits, Broadway fan favorites, and some State Theatre debuts.

The season begins with Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on November 26-28. The other four shows include the new musical based on the film Anastasia on December 3-5; the Gershwin musical An American in Paris on February 25-27; Waitress April 14-16; and Hairspray, April 29-May 1.

Other shows included in State Theatre’s 2021-22 Broadway season include the Jimmy Buffet musical Escape to Margaritaville October 8-10; the musical Million Dollar Quartet November 2; Cats March 18-20; and the new musical Charlie and The Chocolate Factory May 13-15. Also this season, Tony Award-winning Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr., makes his State Theatre debut with his Christmas concert on December 10.  more

Victoria Lace

State Theatre New Jersey presents “An Evening of Dueling Pianos,” featuring Nate Hopkins and Debbie Tjong, on Thursday, June 17, at 7 p.m. This virtual Pride Month event will be hosted on Zoom by drag queen performer Victoria Lace.

A minimum donation of $15 allows patrons to participate in the event. Proceeds raised support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs. To sign up, visit STNJ.org/Event/Dueling-Pianos

The event is presented by State Theatre New Jersey’s LGBTQ Community Engagement Committee. Launched in 2016,  it is comprised of community leaders with a wide range of backgrounds that champion diversity, increase engagement, and build relationships with members of New Jersey’s diverse community. 

The STNJ Pride event will feature an interactive dueling pianos performance which will allow audience members to request songs. The event will also include giveaways and special guest appearances. Those who sign up for the event will automatically be entered to win a variety of prizes, including gift certificates to Fiddleheads Restaurant in Jamesburg or Robert’s Florals in Highland Park; a Pride 2021 Everyone is Awesome LEGO set; a $50 Visa gift card, courtesy of Argentino Fiore Law & Advocacy, LLC; State Theatre swag; or State Theatre show tickets.  more

“SUMMERTIME”: This watercolor by Rita Feeney is featured in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s “Small but Mighty” small works art exhibition. For the virtual show, 76 Garden State Watercolor Society artists submitted 131 small works measuring 10” or less on any side.

The Garden State Watercolor Society’s “Small but Mighty,” its 3rd annual small works art exhibition, is now on view online through July 16.

For the exhibit, 76 Garden State Watercolor Society artists submitted 131 small works. Paintings consist of original water media (watercolor, acrylic, gouache, casein, or egg tempera) on either paper, Claybord, or Yupo. Unframed works measure 10” or less on any side. Paintings in the exhibit will be juried for $500 in prizes by Ken C. Hamilton, a signature member of the National Watercolor Society.

The exhibit can be viewed on YouTube, with links on Instagram, Facebook, and websites at gswcs.org and farmsteadartscenter.org.

There will be an awards ceremony via Zoom on June 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. along with a watercolor demonstration by artist Dorrie Rifkin (dorrierifkin.com/galleries).

All works are available for purchase through Farmstead Arts Center, 450 King George Road, Basking Ridge. For information, contact the Farmstead at (908) 636-7576 or by email at admin@farmsteadarts.org.

“DOG”: Arts Council of Princeton is partnering with the Princeton University Art Museum to provide free, online art-making experiences. “Art Making — Watercolors” features weekly classes taught by Arts Council artist-instructor Barbara DiLorenzo, whose work is shown here. All classes are held on Thursday nights from June 17 through July 22, and begin at 8 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton is partnering with the Princeton University Art Museum to provide free, online art-making experiences. “Art Making — Watercolors” features weekly classes taught by Arts Council artist-instructor Barbara DiLorenzo over Zoom, so participants can join live from home. Each week’s lesson features works from the Museum’s collections and is introduced by an art museum student tour guide. All classes, which include closed captions in both English and Spanish, are held on Thursday nights from June 17 through July 22, and begin at 8 p.m.

“Through my years of teaching at the Arts Council of Princeton, I’ve seen how important creativity is to humans of all ages and abilities,” said DiLorenzo. “During the isolation of the pandemic, people from different parts of the world wrote to us to share that the Thursday evening free art classes were something of a lifeline in these challenging times. People spoke of their return to drawing after 30, 40, and even 50 years away. There were also many just starting out, but feeling more comfortable after hearing me talk about erasing and making mistakes constantly.”  more

“SISTERS AT HEART”: This painting by Irene Granderson is part of “Windows of Hope,” on view through July 10 in the windows of various businesses on Main Street and Gordon Avenue in Lawrenceville. The exhibit features more than 50 artists and 70 2-D and 3-D artwork contributions from all sectors of the community, including HomeFront’s ArtSpace.

“Windows of Hope 2021,” on view through July 10, is a creative art exhibit featured in the historic district windows of Lawrenceville Main Street and Gordon Avenue. This event combines the elements of a traditional exhibit, public art installation, and “phantom galleries.” It features 52 artists and 70 2-D and 3-D artwork contributions from all sectors of the community, including HomeFront’s ArtSpace, whose artists will display work at The Purple Cow Ice Cream Parlor with artists from the Lawrence Township Senior Center.  more

“TAKING PAUSE”: Arts Council of Princeton Artist-in-Residence Robin Resch will give two free artist talks in Dohm Alley this summer on “Taking Pause,” a collaborative portrait project that asks people to reflect on what in their lives feels most essential. The talks will be held on June 24 from 12-1 p.m. and July 8 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) artist-in-residence, Princeton-based photographer Robin Resch, will give two free artist talks in Dohm Alley this summer on Taking Pause, a collaborative portrait project that asks people to reflect on what in their lives feels most essential. Resch will delve into the making of her project and how she was able to retrieve these thought-provoking photos and insights in the midst of a global pandemic.

On the afternoon of Thursday, June 24 from 12-1 p.m., attendees are invited to bring a bag lunch and join Resch in the alley for the first artist talk. On Thursday, July 8, she will speak from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Our lives are so diverse and we’ve all been impacted in similar and yet differing ways,” said Resch. “To some degree, it has been equalizing. In other ways it’s been polarizing. How has it impacted us? Have our values changed? Would we answer the question ‘what is irreplaceable to you?’ differently today than a year ago?” more

June 9, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

…. and they rode up smiling Prospect Avenue, through the gay crowd, to have tea at Cottage.

—from This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

I’m walking up Prospect Avenue. On my right is the apartment building at 120 where Dream Songs poet John Berryman was fixated on Don Giovanni in the summer of 1947. Up the street on the other side is the Cottage Club, the site of the spring 1920 honeymoon revels of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, during which Zelda “turned cartwheels down Prospect,” according to Fitzgerald’s biographer Andrew Turnbull. Thinking of all the characters, poets and players, outsiders and insiders who have walked and dreamed and cartwheeled up and down that illustrious thoroughfare, including T.S. Eliot, I’m having “such a vision of the street as the street hardly understands.”

“Paradise” and the Garden

I went to Prospect Avenue last week for a first-hand look at the three Victorian houses slated for demolition as part of the University’s vision of the street that the petitioners of Save Prospect Now (SPN) are hard put to understand. As  much as I sympathize with SPN’s resistance to the plan, I’m taking advantage of the occasion to write a belated centenary celebration of Scott Fitzgerald’s prose poem to Princeton, This Side of Paradise, and Princeton’s Garden Theatre, both of which made their debut in 1920, the novel in May, the theatre in September. The first film I saw at the Garden some 50 years later was a revival of MGM’s Grand Hotel (1932). It’s been even longer since I read This Side of Paradise. I have to handle my copy with care; the pages of the 35-cent Dell paperback are yellowed and flaking, and no wonder; it’s copyrighted 1948, in the name of Zelda Fitzgerald, who died that year in a fire at Highland hospital in Asheville, N.C. more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton Festival opened its 2021 season this past week with a series of events including a virtual performance by the Concordia Chamber Players — an ensemble which has traditionally kicked off the Festival each year with a live performance. This season, the Concordia musicians presented a video stream last Friday night of performances recorded in early May in various locations around Sand City, California. The four members of Concordia Chamber Players — violinists Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu and Alexi Kenney, violist Jonathan Moerschel, and cellist (and artistic director) Michelle Djokic — performed works from the late 19th through the 21st centuries, introducing the concert with quotes from singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone on the artist’s role in social responsibility.

Jessie Montgomery, currently a graduate fellow in music composition at Princeton University, is rapidly becoming one of this country’s most performed composers. Montgomery’s 2013 Source Code for string quartet fuses transcriptions of various sources from African American artists prominent during the civil rights era, with Montgomery re-interpreting the musical material in a contemporary way. Montgomery is known for capturing the sounds of our times in her music, and Source Code was no exception as played by the Concordia Chamber Players. Beginning with a concentrated unison from the four musicians, the one-movement work showed shades of 20th-century jazz, with particularly effective melodic playing from Kenney and Djokic. Montgomery’s piece was intensely continuous, with drone-like lines often heard from the lower strings and Djokic providing a percussive rhythm from the cello.

Although born in Switzerland, Arthur Honegger was considered one of the legendary “Les Six” French composers of the early 20thcentury. His 1932 Sonatine for Violin and Cello, possibly inspired by the birth of the composer’s child, was rooted in the 18th-century musical style of J.S. Bach. The three-movement work was premiered by Honegger himself on the violin and fellow “Les Six” composer Darius Milhaud playing cello. more

The Princeton Festival’s June 13 and 20 concerts, presented live and via livestream from Morven’s Stockton Education Center, will include arias, duets, and trios from popular operas by Mozart, Richard Strauss, Verdi, and more. The in-person tickets are sold out, but livestream tickets are available at princetonfestival.org.

Redivivus Opera, a newly formed platform for artists to perform in a safe and nurturing space, will present a concert in partnership with Princeton Mutual Aid on Saturday, June 12 at 7 p.m. at Pettoranello Gardens amphitheater at Community Park North.

The inaugural concert will feature mezzo soprano Kathryn Elliott, and sopranos Rachel E. Sigman and Laura Isabella, in operatic and musical theater selections. The event will be livestreamed.

Proceeds will fund a week of summer camp for children of single parents, emergency medical bill assistance for neighbors in need, and bi-weekly grocery deliveries for local immigrant workers and senior neighbors.

Tickets are pay-what-you-wish, with a suggested donation of $25. Visit tinyurl.com/PMAConcert.

“DECISION TIME FOR RED #2”: Artist Charles David Viera will discuss his latest exhibition, “Reality Revisited: Paintings by Charles David Viera,” at a gallery talk on Monday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Nassau Club.

The Nassau Club at 6 Mercer Street, Princeton, will be presenting a gallery talk by Charles David Viera on Monday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to noon. The event is free and open to the public.

Viera will be discussing his current exhibition, “Reality Revisited: Paintings by Charles David Viera,” which is currently on display at the Nassau Club through September 26. Viera’s artwork has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Nassau County Museum, and locally at the Ellarslie Museum in Trenton and he is a longtime instructor at the Arts Council of Princeton. more

“APPLES AND ORANGES”: “Virus Testing” by Alan Klawans and “Morning Window” by Claudia Fouse Fountaine will be featured in a joint art exhibition on view June 10 through July 4 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

Local artists Alan Klawans and Claudia Fouse Fountaine will be showing their work together at Artists’ Gallery from June 10 through July 4, and their art is as different as “Apples and Oranges.” All the work in the show was created during the pandemic, and each artist responded quite differently to the situation.

“My art is basically a celebration of light, of color — of life, really,” said Fountaine. “As the pandemic wore on, I felt less and less like celebrating anything. At one point I stopped painting altogether, waiting hopefully for a glimmer of joie de vivre to return. I tried focusing on memories of beautiful places — nature, animals, and just the everyday objects around me. Eventually my creative enthusiasm began to return, and I was able to pull together enough paintings for the show. May I continue on that path!” more

“MAJOLICA GRAPE LEAF BOWL”: This late 19th century piece was made by Trenton’s Mayer Brothers’ Arsenal Pottery. A talk on Majolica pottery and its place in Trenton’s pottery industry will be given at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion.

In conjunction with the colorful Majolica display on view at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion, co-curator David Bosted will give a talk on the pieces and their place in Trenton’s storied pottery industry. The talk, “Trenton-made Majolica of the Late 19th Century,” will be given twice: at 2 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 12, at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion, located in historic Cadwalader Park. Attendees may sign up in advance at ellarslie.org.

The showcased pieces were made by Trenton’s Eureka and Mayer Brothers/Arsenal. Some of the pieces are part of the Trenton City Museum’s renowned pottery collection, and others are on loan from co-curator Karl J. Flesch. Information on Trenton-made Majolica is available at ellarslie.org/trenton-made-majolica.

June 2, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Not Kafka again!” says my wife when I mention my plans for this week’s column. It’s true. I find his presence everywhere, most recently haunting an article in the front section of Friday’s New York Times about the reopening of The Vessel, “the labyrinth of staircases at Hudson Yards that closed four months ago after several people killed themselves there.” Related Companies, the developer, “had put measures in place to reduce the risk of suicides” among visitors to the “150-foot spiraling sculpture,” with its “154 interconnecting flights of stairs and 80 landings.”

No need to reference Kafka in the article, he’s there. He can also be read into baseball (K the symbol for a strikeout), and the current conspiracy-theory twilight zone of American politics. The first place I look when I need close-up one-on-one Kafka, however, is in my copy of Diaries 1914-1923, edited by his friend Max Brod. Say you’re reading around in the summer of 1917, you’ve been trying to find words for the sound the Brood X cicadas are making in the summer of 2021, and you land on a single line set apart from the surrounding entries:

“The alarm trumpets of the void.”

Does it come close to the surreal magnitude of a sound so monstrously impending that you seem to be seeing what you’re hearing? Close enough I think. In German, it’s Die alarmtrumpeten der Leere. The translator of this edition of Diaries is listed as Martin Greenberg, “with the assistance of Hannah Arendt.” Where does the line come from? It might be a fragment from a work in progress such as “In the Penal Colony” or “The Great Wall of China.” Whoever, however, wherever, all I know is Kafka pitched another K, a nasty slider that just caught the outside corner of the strike zone. more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra continued its “Emerge” concert series this past week with an on-demand film of a live performance recorded this past February at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The “Emerge” trilogy, directed by filmmaker Yuri Alves, has fused orchestral performances with visual meditations and dance sequences to create a multi-media online experience. The second performance of this trilogy, launched last Wednesday evening, featured pianist Inon Barnatan playing Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement; also included on the program was one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final symphonies. Accompanying these works was a New Jersey Symphony Orchestra seemingly up to full strength, led by Music Director Xian Zhang.

Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement was premiered in Chicago in 1934 with the composer as soloist. The work appears to have fallen into obscurity following its premiere, with the orchestral score later reconstructed. The Concerto’s three continuous sections hark back to the Romantic style of Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn, and in NJSO’s performance, the work showed plenty of Romantic and improvisatory flavor. With Zhang on the podium and Barnatan at the keyboard, the music of was very dramatic, with Barnatan’s left hand a constant swirl of flowing arpeggios. Zhang conducted with broad gestures, allowing repeated passages to become more intense with each recurrence. The second section of the movement was marked by an elegant oboe solo from Alexandra Knoll in duet with the piano, with a great deal of lushness from just these two instruments. Barnatan’s piano solo seemed to be in duet with various instruments, gradually speeding up toward a very jazzy third movement capturing a 1920s feel. Visually accompanying this piece, which was filmed in black and white, were dance sequences from guest dancers Cori Barnes and M.A. Taylor.  more

NEW DOCUMENTARY: Trenton Music Makers will debut a short documentary film, “Freedom: Stories of Innovation, Resiliency, and Connection,” in observance of Juneteenth.

In observance of Juneteenth, Trenton Music Makers will celebrate its resilience and creativity over the past year with the premiere of a short documentary film, Freedom: Stories of Innovation, Resiliency, and Connection, featuring interviews with Trenton Music Makers and their families, orchestral selections, and more. 

The film celebrates the grit that has carried Trenton Music Makers forward during this pandemic year. It will also include the debut of a new music video of Trenton hip hop artist Josue Lora’s composition “Simple,” in a remix featuring the musicians from Trenton Music Makers and dancers of Trenton Education Dance Institute (TEDI).

The documentary, produced by filmmaker Nick Donnoli, will also include the young musicians performing excerpts from Mozart’s Symphony #40 and Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” 

“We have a singular opportunity here to connect our players with exciting musicians from their own city — Josue Lora and DJ Ahmad’s musical gifts are matched by an amazing heart for children. Thanks to the I AM Trenton Community Foundation, this project celebrating our city’s own warmth and resiliency is being supported by our city’s own resources — we are proud and honored,” said Carol Burden, executive director, Trenton Music Makers.   more