March 10, 2021

By Anne Levin

During a meeting of Princeton Council on February 24, Councilman David Cohen read letters from parents who have lost children to tragic road accidents.

One woman wrote of her 24-year-old daughter, killed by the driver of a sanitation truck while cycling to her job in Philadelphia as a French pastry chef. A letter from the father of three young boys wrote of the loss of all of them – one to a negligent driver, another to a reckless driver, and the third to a drunk driver.

These shocking testimonies were written in support of a proposal to make Princeton a “Vision Zero” community, part of an international network of towns and cities dedicated to a philosophy of traffic management that lessens or eliminates deaths and serious injuries on local roadways.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the initiative. The town is currently putting together a Vision Zero task force, and is seeking volunteers from the community to join municipal staff from key departments, Mayor Mark Freda, and advisers in developing a Vision Zero action plan.

The idea was first introduced to Council at a presentation last year. The crux of the program, Cohen said this week, is the fact that it is data-driven.

“So instead of saying theoretically that lowering speed limits or having more officers on the streets is safer, this actually identifies locations around town where you have the most crashes,” he said. “It explores what is causing them and what we can do to prevent them. And that’s different from other traffic safety approaches.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

It is shuddersome and sinister. About it hovers the grisly something which we all fear in the dark but dare not define.

—James Huneker on Chopin’s Prelude No. 2

When a film is called Night of the Living Dead, you know what to expect. Same with The Walking Dead. Given the Hitchcock brand and half a century of shower-slaughter word of mouth, you know where you’re headed with Psycho.

Carnival of Souls is another matter. The film’s title alone has intriguing possibilities, with room for whatever or whoever you want to bring to the dance, if you don’t mind fox-trotting or waltzing to sinister organ music reminiscent of NBC’s Inner Sanctum, the old time radio precursor to The Twilight Zone. The horror movie genre it has been consigned to is less interesting to me than the title’s suggestion of a gathering of souls. In my preferred vision of the carnival, the doors are open to great souls like Kafka and Chopin, whose 211th birthday was March 1.

Keeping in mind the rhetoric Chopin’s sometimes “shuddersome and sinister” music has attracted — the “affinities with the darkling conceptions” of Poe and Coleridge in the Scherzo in C-sharp minor that James Huneker likens to “some fantastic, sombre pile of disordered farouche architecture” about which “hovers perpetual night and the unspeakable and despairing things that live in the night” — I’ve been thinking a lot about Carnival of Souls and its protagonist, Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss). Having survived an accident in which two friends drowned, Mary moves from Lawrence, Kansas, to Salt Lake City, where she has a job as a church organist. She’s in a department store buying a new dress when suddenly the world goes silent, sales people and other customers no longer see her, she can’t hear them, they can’t hear her, and after escaping outside she’s still in the silent spell until a bird’s song brings the real world back to life for her. 

Going directly from that nightmare to the church organ,  she begins to rehearse, but the sounds she’s producing soon veer into dissonance and discord that she’s helpless to control, it’s as if her hands have taken on a spasmodic life of their own, crawling and creeping over the keys, and when two large hands reach out of nowhere to cover hers, you think at first they belong to the ghoulish figure that’s been stalking her. But no, it’s the appalled minister putting a stop to the profane uproar before pompously firing her on the spot. A day ago he’d praised her playing, telling her to put her soul into it, and so she has but it’s not her soul.

The sequence takes only four of the film’s 80 minutes, and I’ve seen it several times on YouTube, trying to imagine the impact on the minister had certain portions of Chopin’s B flat minor sonata been translated into the language of the pipe organ, a sonata that Schumann says “begins and ends … with dissonances, through dissonances, and in dissonances,” not to mention “the brief, astonishing finale, a coda to the famous marche funebre suggesting that the departing mourners were swept away by a tornado.”    Scarily akin to the sight of Mary’s hands is a fellow pianist and composer’s account of Chopin at the piano: “It was an astonishing sight to see one of his little hands reach out and cover a third of the key-board. It was like the mouth of a serpent about to swallow a rabbit. In reality, Chopin was made of rubber.”

The first piece I associated with Mary’s trauma was the Polonaise fantasie in A flat major that Franz Liszt described in an 1852 monograph as “an elegiac tristesse … punctuated by startled movements, melancholic smiles, unexpected jolts, pauses full of tremors, like those felt by somebody caught in an ambush, surrounded on all sides.” To a critic of the period, “the piano speaks here in a language not previously known.” When he was working on the Polonaise, Chopin himself admitted he didn’t know what to title it until the end, confessing, “I’d like to finish something that I don’t yet know what to call.” He completed it in August 1846, three years before his death. more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra returned to its virtual classical concert series this past weekend with a performance highlighting music of the Italian masters for strings. Sunday afternoon’s program also featured Russian harpist Alexander Boldachev, who was scheduled to perform live in Princeton this season, in works of Bedrïch Smetana and Astor Piazzolla, as well as two of his own compositions.

Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances was a set of three orchestral suites from the early 20th-century Italian composer, inspired by lute and guitar music of the 16th through 18th centuries. In a concert recorded last fall in Princeton’s Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton Symphony performed the third of these suites, which was comprised of four baroque musical dances and which was unusual in its scoring for strings alone. 

Led by Princeton Symphony Orchestra Music Director Rossen Milanov, the strings of the Orchestra began the opening dance of “Suite III” gracefully. The upper strings maintained a great deal of forward motion to the melodic lines, accompanied by delicate pizzicato playing from the lower strings. Throughout the “Suite,” one could easily hear the plucking of a 17th-century lute. The strings well handled the complex shifting of styles in the second movement “Aire di Corte,” well capturing a rustic dance atmosphere. An elegant lilt marked the third movement “Siciliana,” and the Orchestra closed the stylish work with a rich orchestral texture similar to a Baroque organ.   more

BAGPIPES AND MORE: Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato is among the “leading ladies” of classical music to be celebrated in a free concert stream by Princeton University Concerts on March 28.

Princeton University Concerts pays tribute to Women’s History Month by spotlighting four “leading ladies” of classical music who are pioneers of instruments often overlooked in the mainstream. Accordionist Ksenija Sidorova, bagpiper Cristina Pato, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and saxophonist Jess Gillam with pianist James Baillieu will present an international virtual concert streaming from London, Barcelona, and New York City on Sunday, March 28, at 3 p.m.

This free “Watch Party,” a continuation of Princeton University Concerts’ commitment to presenting world-class artistry at no charge to the public during the course of the pandemic, will showcase a varied program. The four musicians will follow their individual performances with a group discussion and live Q&A, in a discussion both amongst themselves and directly with viewers. These women all share the distinction of being pioneers in their field, being the first of their gender or instrument to accomplish milestones within the music industry — the first saxophonist to be signed to the Decca Classics record label; the first female Galician bagpipe player to ever release a solo album; the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp” who has pushed the instrument into unchartered genres; and an accordionist who is as comfortable appearing at the Mostly Mozart Festival as she is performing alongside Sting.  more

“RESIST CONVENIENCE”: Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus in Trenton showcases the photography of Heather Palecek through April 1. Gallery hours are Mondays from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. at 137 North Broad Street by appointment. For reservations, visit JKCGallery.online. Photo courtesy of Heather Palecek)

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus (JKC) Gallery now presents its first in-person photography show in almost a year. The exhibit, “Resist Convenience,” showcases the photography of Heather Palecek and is available for viewing through April 1. The gallery is located at 137 North Broad Street in Trenton. Hours are Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., by appointment.

“We are thrilled that we are finally able to physically open our doors with this fantastic show from Heather Palecek,” said Michael Chovan-Dalton, director of the JKC Gallery. “Heather has been an amazing partner with the JKC Gallery and has helped showcase many artists over the past year with the Third Thursdays Artist Talk program. It has been one year since we shut our doors and we are fortunate to have Heather’s work be the first work back on our walls.”  more

This work by Ze-Xin Koh is part of a virtual exhibition presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University. On view through May 15, the show features poster designs and artists’ books by the seniors and juniors in the program, organized by faculty member Pam Lins. It is free and open to the public online at 185nassau.art. For more information, visit arts.princeton.edu.

“AUBERGINE WAVES”: This watercolor by Susan DeConcini is featured in “Textured Waters: Paintings by Léni Paquet-Morante & Susan DeConcini,” on view at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery March 13 through April 3. DeConcini’s works reflect her interest in the movement and textures of water surfaces.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents “Textured Waters: Paintings by Léni Paquet-Morante & Susan DeConcini,” on view in the Taplin Gallery March 13 through April 3.

Artists Susan DeConcini and Léni Paquet-Morante share an interest in water as a subject matter. Susan’s watercolors on paper explore her interest in the movement and textures of ocean waves and other water surfaces in motion. Painted at a variety of water environments, Leni’s plein-air landscape interpretations inform her studio work. Together, these artists’ works provide a contemplation of water as both a familiar subject and intriguing metaphor.

“I paint landscapes that prompt a narrative about water as it engages its surrounding embankments, the detritus within it, and the bio-matter growing from it,” said Morante, who works in oil. “I am as interested in moving paint around as I am in these narratives and so use dynamic brushwork to drive a contemporary interpretation rather than a portrait of place. Working outdoors in a variety of settings over the last two years has inspired the work that I do in the studio, which tends to be more abstract. The landscape paintings in ‘Textured Waters’ reflect my commute through the world as I was drawn to vistas and intimate spaces alike.” more

KEEP MOVING!  These assisted living residents of Greenwood House Senior Healthcare are enjoying an energetic morning “Sittercise” chair exercise session. “Our residents keep moving,” says Greenwood House Executive Director Richard Goldstein. “Movement is very important. Our residents get up and out of bed, get dressed, and keep moving!”

By Jean Stratton

Since 1939, Greenwood House Senior Healthcare has been caring for elderly individuals, initially for those of the Jewish faith, and now for those of all faiths.

Established by the Trenton Ladies Sick Benefit Society, a charitable humanitarian organization, it offered people who required medical, nursing, and personal care a safe and secure environment.

Originally located on Greenwood Avenue in Trenton, it moved to its current home at 53 Walter Street in Ewing in 1974.

What started as a local home for the Jewish elderly with 25 residents is now a highly respected non-sectarian senior health care organization for 125 residents. It offers an entire continuum of care, including long term care, skilled nursing, respite care, home care, an assisted living facility for private residents, rehabilitation care programs for a variety of conditions, physical, occupational and speech therapy, home-delivered Kosher meals on wheels, and hospice care. more

GOODBYE HUG: Members of the Princeton University field hockey team celebrate after scoring a goal in a 2-1 win over Virginia in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. Players in the Class of 2021 who competed for the squad along with all other Ivy League senior student-athletes were recently granted a one-time waiver by the league to compete as grad students for the same college where they received their undergraduate degree. The excitement over the change in policy is tempered at Princeton, which has no known students who will take advantage of the provision. The Tiger field hockey team, for example, has seven seniors on its roster and six of them will play as graduate students next year at other schools while the other has a job lined up. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Displaying a flexibility prompted by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy League announced in mid-February that senior student-athletes would be eligible to compete in 2021-22 as graduate students at the same university from which they receive their undergraduate degree.

Any excitement over the drastic reversal in the longstanding Ivy policy that prevented graduate students from competing is tempered at Princeton University, which has no known students who will take advantage of the provision.

“We had a group text letting them know that this announcement was coming,” said Princeton field hockey head coach Carla Tagliente.

“I had some private conversations with some of them on the side about the possibility and what it meant. Most are committed to play their grad year somewhere else.”

The announcement came via email to senior students. The Ivy League Council of Presidents will allow the one-time waiver just for next year. Their message noted “this change is a direct result of the pandemic and will not be available in future years.”

The announcement came more than a month after Princeton admission to graduate programs closed. The latest graduate school admissions date was January 4 for the German and Architecture programs. Princeton student-athletes would already have had to apply – and be accepted – in order to be able to take advantage of the athletic policy change. Other Ivy institutions may have later graduate school deadlines.

“I think for one year if it helps a few students, I don’t know how many will do it, but great,” said Princeton football head coach Bob Surace. “I don’t think we’re in a time to nitpick about imbalances. If a student can do it and they can come back for a year, let’s do it.” more

By Bill Alden

It was a year ago this week that the sports world came to a skidding halt across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a harbinger of things to come, the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments on March 10. While that decision was seen as too hasty by many, when Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus a day later that became the tipping point for the cancellation of athletic competition worldwide.

In the dark days of late March, there was no certainty when the games would resume and in what form. As masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing became staples of daily life, coaches and athletes adapted.

The Zoom platform for video conferences became ubiquitous, helping to keep players and coaches in contact. NFL teams learned that they could install offenses and defenses virtually instead of on the practice field.

Athletes developed home workout routines, converting garages and basements into gyms across the country. Some Princeton University athletes did squats using backpacks jammed with books and performed strength training the old-fashioned way via sit-ups and push-ups.

In May, South Korea’s top baseball league, the Korean Baseball Organization, briefly became the focus of the sports world as ESPN started broadcasting its games in the wee hours of the morning to fill the void with U.S. pro leagues still being in hold.

The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, became required viewing. Aired on ESPN in April and May, the show drew millions of viewers from sports-starved fans.

A charity golf match pitting Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in late May provided a form of live competition. Brady holing out from more than 100 yards out on the seventh hole after struggling early in proved to be a highlight. But the best moment of the rainy day in Florida came after the match when it was revealed that the competition raised $20 million for COVID-19-related organizations. more

FINAL DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Brynne Hennessy drives to the hoop in recent action. Senior guard Hennessy ended her career on a high note, helping PHS to a 39-29 win over Princeton Day School last Thursday on her Senior Day and a 39-29 victory over New Egypt last Saturday in the season finale. The Tigers ended the 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Brynne Hennessy traveled a circuitous route to her Senior Day for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.

Having played on the junior varsity team for the first two years of her PHS career, Hennessy got promoted to the varsity last year only to miss nine games due to injury.

This winter, Hennessy wasn’t sure if she should play due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I was even a little bit apprehensive to come out this season with everything that is going on right now,” said Hennessy.

But there was Hennessy smiling with her parents and her older brother at one end of the PHS gym as the lone senior standing for the ceremony last Thursday as the Tigers hosted Princeton Day School.

“It has been an interesting four years to say the least,” said Hennessy, who served as a captain of PHS in both of her varsity campaigns.

“I love to play with these girls, this year was very special to me. We have a lot of freshmen who are really great and bring a lot of energy. We all get along really well. I know they are going to be great without me. I am excited to see where they go.”

While Hennessy went scoreless in the contest, she was excited to see PHS pull out a 39-29 win over the Panthers, a day after the Tigers had fallen 30-29 to their crosstown rivals. more

DAME TIME: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Dameon Samuels looks to pass the ball last week as PDS hosted Princeton High in its season finale. Senior hard Samuels went out with a bang, tallying 10 points with six assists, six rebounds, and four steals to help the Panthers defeat PHS 78-50. The victory left PDS with a final record of 7-3 for the 2021 campaign. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With 3:19 left in the fourth quarter last Friday and the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team rolling to a lopsided win over Princeton High, Dameon Samuels left the court for the last time in his career, prompting a flood of emotions.

The PDS senior guard embraced his coaches and started sobbing as he exited the contest. He later buried his head in his hands, watching the final minutes of the Panthers’ 78-50 win over their crosstown rivals.

“It was this is playing basketball all of your career, you don’t really want to see that last game,” said a red-eyed Samuels, reflecting on his curtain call.

“You want to keep playing and playing. When I came out, I thought of all the moments at PDS from freshman year to now and all of that coming to the end.”

Samuels was feeling emotional long before the Senior Day ceremony that took place before the game.

“All day, I have just been thinking about my career,” said Samuels.

“I try to play hard every single game. It is tough knowing that this is my last game here. These are all my brothers. I just love it, I just love basketball.”

Battling hard against crosstown rival, Samuels contributed 10 points, six assists, six rebounds, and four steals to help the Panthers cruise to the victory and end the winter at 7-3. more

TOP MOMENT: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Caroline Topping surveys the situation last Wednesday as PDS hosted Princeton High and held its annual Senior Day ceremony. Senior guard Topping enjoyed a memorable home finale for the Panthers in the contest, sinking the game-winning shot as PDS edged the Tigers 30-29. A day later, the Panthers fell 39-29 at PHS in the rematch of locals to end the season with a 1-7 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Caroline Topping sensed that the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team was primed for a breakthrough as the program held its annual Senior Day celebration last Wednesday afternoon.

Even though PDS brought a winless record into the game against crosstown rival Princeton High, who was at 5-2, senior guard Topping was confident that the Panthers would be competitive.

“There was a lot of extra emotion, I have been waiting for this moment since I was a freshman,” said Topping.

“I have been so excited. We all just had good energy today. We had a psych, we all wore bucket hats. It was a lot of fun.”

In the second quarter, Topping had a lot of fun, tallying seven points as PDS outscored the Tigers 12-5 to build a 23-13 lead at halftime.

“We had the momentum, we had the right energy,” said Topping.

“We weren’t panicking. We had control of everything. I did feel in a groove, especially hitting that three. I am not usually a three-point shooter; it just really gave me the confidence. The speech earlier and the celebration gave me confidence and made me feel good about myself.”

That confidence wavered somewhat as PHS rallied in the second half and knotted the game at 26-26 early in the fourth quarter.

“At that point, we had a lot of energy but it wasn’t controllable,” said Topping. more

BIG FINISH: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Jardine dribbles around a foe in recent action. Senior guard Jardine ended her Hun career on a high note, tallying 24 points to help the Raiders defeat Princeton Day School 59-26 on March 1 and then adding 19 points a day later as Hun edged Peddie 47-44. The Raiders posted wins in their last four games of the season to end with a final record of 5-3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kennedy Jardine struggled a bit going through her pregame routine for the Hun School girls’ basketball team as it played at Princeton Day School last week.

“When we were warming up, I wasn’t making a lot of my shots,” said Hun senior guard Jardine, getting used to the surroundings in the new PDS Athletic Center. “We haven’t played here before.”

With Hun trailing 4-3 early in the first quarter, Jardine got fouled on a three-point attempt and sank three straight free throws and started to feel a comfort level.

“That really got me going; we were moving the ball, I was getting really good looks,” said Jardine.

“We were swinging the ball and getting the floor open. Also when I got the ball and I couldn’t shoot the ball, I was able to drive around my opponent and score.”

Jardine started scoring in bunches, tallying 15 points in the first half as Hun jumped out to a 37-18 lead and never looked back the way to a 59-26 win in the March 1 contest.

The Raiders focused on defense as they closed the deal against PDS.

“Our coach [Bill Holup] told us we were going to switch into man because we have a big game coming up against Peddie,” said Jardine, who ended up with 24 points in the win.

“We needed to get some work playing man so we tested that in the third quarter.” more

March 3, 2021

Despite the cold, a few children recently enjoyed some time in Marquand Park. Residents and visitors share what they are looking forward to this spring in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday, March 1 that the state will be expanding vaccination eligibility later this month to include educators and staff in Pre-K through 12th grade settings, child care workers, and transportation workers, among others.

Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Barry Galasso applauded the news that teachers would soon be eligible for vaccination. “We’ve been advocating for them to get vaccines since vaccines became available,” he said. “I’ve written to the governor and told him specifically that schools are an integral part of getting the economy going, and the only way that can happen is if teachers feel comfortable coming into the buildings.”

He continued, “Vaccines are not a silver bullet, but they will give a number of teachers a level of comfort and safety. We sent out communications asking the Princeton community for support on this, and a number of people in the community have taken up that banner and advocated for this. We appreciate their support. Teachers being vaccinated is a great thing.”

New Jersey expects to receive an initial shipment of about 70,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved, one-dose vaccine this week to supplement the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently in use.  And, on March 2, federal officials announced that Merck & Co. would be teaming up with Johnson & Johnson in helping to produce the vaccine.

In addition, CVS and Rite-Aid will be allotted 22,500 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Murphy added, though the supplies for subsequent weeks are not certain.

“As the federal government continues to make more vaccine doses available, we are confident in our ability to expand our vaccination program to reach more of our essential workers and vulnerable  populations,” Murphy said. more

By Donald Gilpin

On February 23, as they prepared to begin the 7:30 p.m. public session of their regular Tuesday evening meeting, the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) was looking forward to a report from district administrators on a plan for moving forward in addressing pandemic-related issues and bringing more children safely back into the buildings.

Logged in on the Zoom session, however, were more than 800 participants — mostly high school students, but also a significant number of teachers and parents. They wanted to speak on a variety of different concerns, and most were not happy.

By 9:30 p.m. the BOE had taken care of preliminary business and heard the administrators’ reports, and the public forum portion of the meeting began, with individuals each allowed two minutes to speak. The Board decided to extend the public comment period from its usual 15 minutes to one hour, then another hour. Community members spoke up, voicing frustrations, stress, sometimes anger, often directed at administration or Board members, sometimes directed against the pandemic in general and its accompanying restrictions, unforeseen disruptions, and constantly changing variables necessitating frequent changes of plans.

The BOE members listened. Board members do not respond during the public forum session, though they did frequently reiterate their commitment to hearing everybody who wanted to speak. Finally, as midnight and the legally mandated end of the meeting approached, the Board and Superintendent Barry Galasso committed to carrying on the dialogue in future planning sessions with students, teachers, and parents in the following days.

Praising the work of the BOE and superintendent and their commitment to listening and working with the students, Yash Roy, Princeton High School (PHS) senior and one of two student representatives on the BOE, attributed last Tuesday’s contentious meeting to pandemic fatigue and communication lapses, “a confluence of bad factors.” He noted, “It was very high tension, but it cooled down very quickly.” more

By Anne Levin

The transformation of Princeton’s former post office building into the new location of Triumph Brewery is finally underway. Inside the Palmer Square landmark, Princeton Design Guild is demolishing the old vaults where money and stamps were kept, and everything in the basement, in preparation for the redesign.

If all goes according to plan, Triumph could move from its current location at 138 Nassau Street and re-open on Palmer Square by the last quarter of 2022, according to Kevin Wilkes of Princeton Design Guild, who is working as the owner’s representative on the project. “We are not the general contractor. We will make a selection in a month for a construction management company,” he said. “But I’m getting things started on the front end so we don’t lose time.”

Three architects are involved in the project. Gittings Associates of Forrestal Road is the architect of record, Richardson Smith of Witherspoon Street is design architect, and Historic Building Architects of Trenton are the historic preservation architects. “We aim to make this a high-quality project, so having a lot of architects involved will lead to a better result,” Wilkes said. “It also spreads the workload a bit.”

It has been nearly eight years since California businessman David Eichler won the bidding for the property, which was home to the post office for 78 years. Plans for Triumph to relocate to the site were announced in 2016. But several issues, involving easements encroaching on municipal property and protected state park land, were among the factors that stalled final approval of the deal. more

YOUNG WOMEN EMPOWERED: Students participate in a February 2020 workshop as part of the Young Women’s Leadership Cohort, a selective leadership development program at The Hun School of Princeton. (Photo courtesy of Meghan Poller)

By Donald Gilpin

In September 1971, The Hun School of Princeton welcomed its first 45 young women students on campus, and almost 50 years later the Young Women’s Leadership Cohort (YWLC) is making sure that women’s leadership is a high priority at Hun in this Women’s History Month and throughout the year.

Founded three years ago, the YWLC is a group of 20 junior and senior girls plus a new cohort of 20 ninth and tenth grade girls, all nominated by the faculty for their strong leadership potential. The students in the program undergo extensive leadership training, including skill development, networking, and breaking barriers. 

The program has carried on throughout the pandemic, with many students tuning in via Zoom and at least three different time zones represented. The program’s positive results are apparent.

“It’s definitely making a big impact,” said Dayna Gash, YWLC faculty advisor and ninth grade dean. “All the students, especially in the junior-senior cohort, are occupying leadership roles both internally within the school and in the greater community. We have a female student body president and vice president. With the 50th anniversary of women at Hun School coming up, the campus continues to build on the work we’re doing. This is one of many programs that looks to do that.”

Hun School Junior Bella Gomez, who joined the cohort two years ago as a freshman, feels that being a member of the group has taught her not only how to be a strong leader, but also how to be an advocate for herself and her mental health.

“For a long time, I thought to be a good leader I had to show up every day and be this perfect version of myself, but through this cohort I learned that is simply not the case,” she said. “The best leaders I know are raw, honest, and the first ones to admit when they are having a bad day. I’ve really learned about the power of honesty and integrity and how important it is to be honest about where I am mentally and understanding that one bad day doesn’t make me a bad leader.” more

By Anne Levin

Does Princeton need an Albert Einstein museum?

The idea of creating a center dedicated to the famed physicist’s years in Princeton was posed at a recent meeting of the town’s Economic Development Committee. Elizabeth Romanaux, who grew up in Princeton, has worked for Liberty Science Center, and was president of the New Jersey Association of Museums, presented the early stages of a concept she has been considering for some time.

“As a museum professional, I think this is an enormous piece of ripe fruit hanging over everyone’s head that hasn’t been picked,” she said. “In the overall scheme of things, I think it would do very well.”

Romanaux, who is a friend of Mayor Mark Freda’s wife Beth, said she sent him a note a few weeks after he was sworn in this past January, asking why Princeton didn’t have a museum focused on Einstein, who was associated with the Institute for Advanced Study and lived in a house on Mercer Street until his death in 1955. “I told him I’ve always wondered about this, and he said, ‘Great, look into it.’ That was a month ago,” she said during an interview last week. “So I brought it to the Economic Development Committee meeting.”

There are no Einstein museums in the United States, Romanaux said. Two are located in Europe. Hebrew University in Israel owns the trademarks to his name. The Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) does have an extensive collection of Einstein memorabilia at its location at Updike Farm on Quaker Road. more

By Anne Levin

A memo that aims to clarify the conditions surrounding the terms of Princeton’s Third Round Affordable Housing Settlement has been posted on the municipal website (princetonnj.gov).

The 13-page memo by municipal attorney Kevin Van Hise, which was posted on Tuesday, details reasons why the 20 percent set-aside for affordable housing that was in place in the former Princeton Borough now applies only to properties that have five units or more, are rezoned, or are in zones designated for redevelopment. An ordinance passed by Princeton Council last April eliminates that set-aside for all new developments, a fact that became evident during a meeting of the town’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board last month.

The board was reviewing a proposal to build eight apartments at the parking lot on Witherspoon Street, across from Princeton Public Library, known as Griggs Corner. Officials, unaware that the set-aside had not been extended to consolidated Princeton, were surprised when representatives from Palmer Square, the developer of the property, said they did not plan to include any affordable units because they were not required to do so. The issue has generated much discussion.

“That public discussion has understandably caused significant consternation because of fears that the former Borough’s set-aside ordinance was eliminated, that the municipality does not actually have a set-aside ordinance, and that there are ‘loopholes’ in the ordinance,” Van Hise wrote in the memo. “Rumors and conspiracy theories have been exacerbated in news reports and on social media based upon incomplete facts and inaccuracies that continue to be spread.” more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra continued its musical partnership with the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble of South Africa this past week with a concert entitled Soulful and Scintillating Solos, launched Friday and running through the weekend. The Buskaid concert included works of classical composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ernest Bloch, and Camille Saint-Saëns, along with American popular music and traditional South African selections. As with the first Soweto String Ensemble broadcast earlier this winter, the performance featured members of the Ensemble as instrumental and vocal soloists.

It is difficult to imagine that one of Mozart’s most iconic chamber works was composed as “background” music to an 18th-century social event, but that may well be the case with the popular Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Composed in 1787, this four-movement work was likely intended by the composer as a notturno, a chamber piece played late at night at a social gathering. Mozart appears to have given the piece its famous subtitle to differentiate it from a serenade, played earlier in the evening. Regardless of the work’s genesis, the musical themes of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik have remained among Mozart’s most recognizable.

Led by conductor Rosemary Nalden and playing from memory, the string players of the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble played the first movement of Mozart’s Nachtmusik crisply and decisively, leaning into appoggiaturas and demonstrating graceful dynamic swells. Nalden provided effectively supple conducting gestures when required, and the players communicated well among themselves, showing that they had been playing together for a long time. This performance was taken from a 2019 archive, recorded (as were all the works on this program) in the Linder Auditorium of the Wits Education Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.   more

By Stuart Mitchner

Imagine this scene from a gone world: a live event is underway at San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore. The owner is reciting a passage from Americus: Book 1 (New Directions 2004). It’s the summer of 2004, you can hear fog horns and there’s a North Beach mist steaming the windows. Projected on the wall next to Lawrence Ferlinghetti as he reads is the final moment of the silent film that gave the store its name.

Make this an audience for the ages, a gathering worthy of the poet publisher of City Lights whose subject is the “eternal dialogue echoing through the centuries of all the voices that ever sang or wrote.” Everyone’s feeling the “maze and amaze of life” when Chaplin gazes into the astonished eyes of the once-blind flower girl the moment she realizes that the rich handsome benefactor she’s imagined is a pathetic little tramp. He’s gone to great and hilariously exhausting lengths raising money to help pay for the operation that restored her sight and all he’s got to show for it is the flower she has just gently, sweetly, patronizingly bestowed on him, and yet he’s smiling as he holds the flower to his face, using it to hide the wretched, Chaplinesque wonder of a smile that made Einstein weep, a smile in synch with the words the white-bearded 84-year-old poet is reciting, “a sound of weeping beyond reason, a pianist playing in the ruins of Prague, a London fog.”

In his brief preface to the 60th anniversary edition of Pictures of the Gone World (City Lights 1955), Ferlinghetti remembers “the unique San Francisco consciousness of the 1950s” and the “freshness of perception that only young eyes have in the dandelion bloom of youth.” At the moment I’m thinking of 1958 when the then-39-year-old clean-shaven Ferlinghetti was a few blocks away reading from A Coney Island of the Mind (New Directions 1958), with the Cellar Jazz Quintet. I’m realizing that I never felt as close to the man or his poetry as I do now that he’s “no longer with us.”

“A State of Change”

In his brief preface to “Oral Messages,” Part 2 of Coney Island of the Mind, Ferlinghetti advises the reader that the poems “were conceived specifically for jazz accompaniment … rather than written for the printed page. As a result of continued experimental live readings, they are still in a state of change.” Going to Ferlinghetti after last week’s bicentenary celebration of Keats is like moving from one live performance to another.  more

ROMANCE GONE WRONG: Andrea Burns, shown here with cinematographer Hudson Flynn, who happens to be her son, stars in “Bad Dates,” the first show of George Street Playhouse’s streamed season.

Broadway actor Andréa Burns stars in the first show of George Street Playhouse’s 2021 streaming season with the premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates, running through March 14. The full-length, filmed production features direction by Peter Flynn, husband of Burns, and cinematography and editing by their son, Hudson Flynn.

“Creating this production was a true family affair,” said Artistic Director David Saint. “Thanks to a generous GSP board member granting us use of her home as a filming location, our star, director, and cinematographer were able to form a safe familial ‘bubble’ and film this one-of-a-kind production from the ground up. We hope patrons will join us as subscribers this year as we work to create high-quality theatre in exciting new ways.” more

The Arts Council of Princeton celebrates International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8 with a dance workshop led by Bollywood dancer and choreographer Uma Kapoor. In this hour-long, virtual event, participants will learn new moves to favorite songs about girl power including “Single Ladies” and “I Will Survive.” Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit the Arts Council to help close the gap created by COVID-19. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.