April 26, 2017

The Arts Council of Princeton is gearing up for the annual Communiversity ArtsFest, set for April 30, 2017 in downtown Princeton from 1-6 p.m. Central New Jersey’s largest and longest running cultural event will have more than 200 booths showing original art and contemporary crafts, merchandise, and food from around the globe, plus six stages of continuous live entertainment. The event draws more than 40,000 to the streets of downtown Princeton. (Photo Credit: Emily Reeves, Town Topics Newspaper) 

Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s Metamorphosis concert on Sunday, May 7 at 4 p.m. features the U.S. premiere of Zhou Tian’s “Broken Ink,” Claude Debussy’s “La Mer,” and Paul Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.” Rossen Milanov conducts. A 3 p.m. pre-concert talk is free to ticket-holders. Both events will be held at Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, on the campus of Princeton University. For more information, visit princetonsymphony.org or call (609) 497-0020. (Photo Credit: Zhou Tian)

Sophie Glovier’s Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton (spiral-bound paperback Princeton Univ. Press 19.95) has been revised to include the newest trails. The guide includes 16 of the best trails through preserved open space in Princeton and its neighboring towns. This revised edition includes eight new walks, several of which have been created on land that has been preserved since the guide was originally published in 2009. The walks range from two to four miles, but many include suggestions for trail connections that allow people to extend the hike if they choose. The guide includes detailed color maps of the trails, directions on how to get to them and where to park, and recommendations for the most scenic routes. Each walk has been designed with a “reason to walk” in mind: a special boulder or waterfall to find, a bit of local history or a beautiful vista to enjoy. The guide is illustrated with specially commissioned color photographs, 16 of which are featured on detachable postcards. Among the new walks: the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail, the Stony Brook Trail, and the trails at St. Michaels Farm Preserve. more

Wild River Review co-founder Joy E. Stocke and West Coast Editor Angie Brenner will celebrate the publication of their cultural and culinary cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking (Burgess Lea Press $30) at Labyrinth Books on Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m. They will be joined by Cocktail Whisperer Warren Bobrow who will make and serve Bosporus Fizzes, which he created for Tree of Life. Poet and translator Edmund Keeley will be reading his poem “Moussaka,” which asks the question: “To use Béchamel sauce or no?” The cookbook’s Spice Route Moussaka recipe has one answer. more

Beginning a column about Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday (April 25, 2017) on my mother’s 105th birthday (April 20, 2017), feels sentimentally right if only because she lived in the songs Ella sang, notably “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Whenever my father played either of those classics on the piano, my mother would be, as she liked to say, “reduced to rubble.”

In Visions of Jazz (1998), Gary Giddins makes the point that Ella “taught us something vital about joy, as Billie Holiday taught us something vital about pain.” He also observes that she was one of those jazz performers “who have become public monuments,” her “enduring authority” having “more than a little to do with an image of youthless (which is to say ageless) maternalism, sturdy and implacable.” Terms like “enduring authority” help explain why I never owned a single Ella album, never was a fan, even though she’d been magnificent the few times I’d seen her in person. Another problem was that, as Henry Pleasants notes in The Great American Popular Singers (1974), she’d “never been one for exposing her own heart in public,” preferring to share “her pleasures, not her troubles,” so that listening to her was “a joyous, exhilarating, memorable, but hardly an emotional experience.” more

MERCER DANCE ENSEMBLE AT MCCC: From left, dancers Brittany Dintinger of Hamilton, Caitlin Kazanski of Robbinsville, Victoria Smalls of Hamilton, Kimberly King of Hamilton and Kayla Johnson of Wrightstown will perform “On the Nature of Flying,” choreographed by Rebecca Brodowski. Mercer Dance Ensemble’s “Roots to Wings” concert features 15 original dance numbers and is coming to MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre May 6 and 7. Tickets are available at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling (609) 570-3333.

Creative exploration and joyful energy have been the hallmarks of the Dance Program at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) this year. With new artistic direction and three new instructors, MCCC’s current students, Dance alumni and faculty are eager to bring their work to the stage. The Mercer Dance Ensemble (MDE) presents “Roots to Wings: MDE in Concert” on Saturday, May 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

“PRETTY IN PINK”: Wondrous on Witherspoon Pop Up Art Gallery at 14½ Witherspoon Street is presenting “WoW, Spring into Art! An Artist Invitational.” It will feature the works and demonstrations by accomplished and emerging artists from April 28–June 8. There will also be a reception and art walk on May 19 from 6–9 p.m. Pictured here is a watercolor by artist Sandy O’Connor.

Beginning April 28 and just two days before Communiversity ArtFest, Wondrous on Witherspoon (WoW) will once again be “popping up” to offer works of art for sale by some of New Jersey’s most accomplished artists. Thanks to owner, Jeffrey Siegel, this show will mark WoW’s fourth pop-up gallery event in the former Army and Navy Store, located just steps away from Nassau Street and the gates to Princeton University. more

“ST. MICHAELS FARM PATH”: This piece by Lucy Kalian is among the works on display at the D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center as part of the “Eternal Beauty, Perpetual Green” exhibit.

D&R Greenway Land Trust presents Eternal Beauty, Perpetual Green: Preserves through the Seasons at the Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place in Princeton until June 16, with a reception on Friday, April 28 from 5:30–7:30 p.m.; light refreshments will be served. RSVP by (609) 924-4646 or rsvp@drgreenway.org. The artists in this exhibit celebrate the beauty of preservation with many works depicting D&R Greenway preserves throughout the year. Also on view in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery is Eden/Habitat: Celebrating April as Autism Awareness Month. In this exhibit, Eden Autism students share creative views of their campus, through May 12. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit www.drgreenway.org.  more

For its annual concert commemorating founder and long-time conductor Walter L. Nollner, the Princeton University Glee Club reached high into the professional choral arena to lead the ensemble’s closing performance of the season. British conductor and composer James Burton, recently appointed choral director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the orchestra’s resident Tanglewood Festival Chorus, led the Glee Club on Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium in a concert featuring works of Francis Poulenc and Ralph Vaughan Williams, an opportunity made possible by the spring sabbatical of University Director of Choral Activities Gabriel Crouch. While Mr. Crouch has been on sabbatical, the Glee Club has been ably directed by Renata Berlin, assistant director of choirs at the University and conductor of the William Trego Singers. Sunday afternoon’s performance showed the strength of the Glee Club as an organization and its consistent quality under different conductors. more

GOAL ORIENTED: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Ali Hannah heads upfield in recent action. Last Wednesday, junior star Hannah tallied nine goals to help Stuart defeat Trinity Hall 15-10 and improve 5-3. The Tartans host Hightstown on April 27 before starting play in the state Prep B tournament. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ali Hannah decided that she had to be ready to go the distance in order to make a greater impact this season for the Stuart Country Day lacrosse team. more

April 24, 2017

There are many places to enjoy Princeton in the spring, including Cannon Green behind Nassau Hall at Princeton University. A variety of responses to favorite things about spring in Princeton can be found in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

April 19, 2017

Angela Siso Stentz, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) supervisor of guidance for K-12, has been appointed assistant principal at Princeton High School (PHS). She will replace Lori Rotz, who will be retiring from that position on July 1.

In the district since 2000, first as a special education teacher in math and Spanish and for the past ten years in guidance, Ms. Siso Stentz looks forward to using her experience and knowledge and the relationships she’s developed across the district to help in her work with students in the high school.

“I’ve had an opportunity to see the district perspective,” she said, “and that knowledge and awareness, knowing where the students are coming from, will help me fill in gaps and work with students, parents, colleagues, and others.”

Ms. Siso Stentz, who was supervisor of student activities at PHS, is particularly eager to focus more directly on working with students in her new role, both inside and outside the classroom. “I’m looking forward to enjoying myself in working more closely with students and their families,” she said. “As guidance director I worked district-wide, focusing on programs and staff, sometimes not engaging with students that much. I’m looking forward to helping students with the challenges in their lives and celebrating their accomplishments. I’m especially interested in getting involved in extra-curricular activities and athletics.” more

Third graders from all five of Princeton’s elementary schools are spending some time outdoors this week and next. They are learning what it takes to plant a tree and С more importantly С keep it healthy.

It’s all part of the annual commemoration of Arbor Day, which is officially April 28. Saving trees is a particularly relevant issue in Princeton, where emerald ash borer beetles have been destroying ash trees across the area. The Princeton school events began Tuesday morning at Princeton Charter School and will wind up Friday, April 28 at Johnson Park School. more

MUSIC AND HISTORY: Joe Miller, Choral Director at Westminster Choir College, is the conductor of this weekend’s performances of “Anthracite Fields” at Trenton’s Roebling Wireworks. Mr. Miller spent two years working to bring the Pulitzer-winning oratorio by Julia Wolfe to the Wireworks, where he is pictured.

When Westminster Choir College embarked on Transforming Space, a project exploring how the arts can alter a site not originally intended for that purpose, Trenton’s historic Roebling Wireworks immediately fit the bill. more

The public has used the Internet to empower bargain shopping in many different areas, but one realm particularly resistant to transparency and equity is the funeral industry, according to Josh Slocum, nationally-known consumer advocate and expert on funeral issues.

In a talk on “Bringing the Funeral Industry into the 21st Century” at Princeton Abbey on Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m., Mr. Slocum will advise audience members on how to protect themselves from paying too much for a funeral. He will also describe his plans to bring transparency and fairness to the funeral business. more

“NASSAU INN”: This charming oil painting of the Nassau Inn is among the 27 works by James McPhillips currently on view on the second floor Reading Room of the Princeton Public Library. The exhibit titled, “Nassau Hall to Hoagie Haven,” includes familiar scenes of Princeton along with McPhillips’ pop rebus images. The paintings are on display and available for purchase until July 31.

If you don’t already have James (Jay) McPhillips’ Princeton rebus on your car, you’ve likely seen the bright orange bumper stickers around town. Mr. McPhillips’ pop rebus graphics have certainly made their mark on Princeton, and most recently, the Princeton Public Library (PPL). In conjunction with the redesign of the library’s second floor, Mr. McPhillips debuted his biggest art show to date, “Nassau Hall to Hoagie Haven.” On display in the Reading Room until July 31, the body of work features paintings of Princeton and the surrounding areas, along with the pop rebus graphics synonymous with Mr. McPhillips’ name.  more

ARTJAM 2017: ArtSpace, the art therapy program at HomeFront, is welcoming sponsors for this year’s ArtJam. Opening in May, the art show and sale brings together established artists and HomeFront client-artists to celebrate community, creativity, and the love of art. Pictured here is a piece by one of the HomeFront artists titled, “Mountains.”

HomeFront’s ArtJam, a fun and funky pop-up art gallery, will open Friday, May 19 at 19 Hulfish Street, Princeton and run for three weeks. The 7th annual event brings together professional artists and HomeFront client-artists in a celebration of creativity. It will feature a rotating collection of art for sale and meet-and-greets with the artists.  more

The Lewis Center for the Arts is presenting Into the Woods in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter. In this musical, fairy tale characters undertake individual quests, encountering temptations — and each other — along the way. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, and the book is by James Lapine. An imaginative directorial concept and strong performances reward audiences for joining these characters on their journey.

This production, which celebrates the launch of Princeton University’s Program in Music Theater, is part of a spring semester course that provides students with rigorous experience in creating theater under near-professional circumstances. The students have worked with a professional director (Ethan Heard), design team, and stage manager either performing an onstage role or serving on the production team. more

THE FIRST COUPLE OF THE BANJO: Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck played material from their Grammy-winning 2014 album at Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium. (Photo by Jim McGuire)

Finishing their second or third piece of the evening, Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck rose from their seats to acknowledge an appreciative full house in Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on Thursday. “Clapping sounds really good in here!” Ms. Washburn exclaimed, eliciting laughter and a further wave of applause. But if, superficially, her remark sounded like preening, it was also true. Every sound reverberated warmly in the intimate, wood-lined hall. Clapping did indeed sound good there. But more to the point, the space wonderfully supported each note of the banjo duo’s engrossing performance that evening. more

I love poetry. I love rhyming.

—Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

If he had not become such an extraordinary director, Jim would now be a rock star.

—Wim Wenders on Jim Jarmusch

Several times a week I drive up the hill into Kingston, always with music on the stereo. One morning it’s Ella Fitzgerald singing “Lush Life,” and I take the hill nice and easy, true to the late-night flow of the lyric about “those come-what-may places/where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life/to get the feel of life.” But when Chuck Berry’s singing, the axis is tilting, the wheel of life is spinning, the come-what-may places have gone south, the car’s “rocking like a hurricane,” Beethoven’s rolling under the wheels, Tchaikovsky’s running for his life, and my CRV is a Coupe de Ville with mad Maybellene in the passenger seat urging me on (“go, go, go!”) as Chuck comes up from behind in his Ford V8. Now we’re side by side, Kingston’s turned into Cape Girardeau, and we’re motorvatin’ down I-55 on our way from Chuck’s St. Louis to Elvis’s Memphis, the setting of Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. The method behind my vehicular madness is simple: one of the wisest, most interesting, most humane filmmakers in the world is in town today, Wednesday, April 19, and will be appearing on campus at 4:30 in McCosh 50. more

Princeton resident Victor Ripp will be at Labyrinth Books Tuesday, April 25 at 6 p.m. to read from his book Hell’s Traces: One Murder, Two Families, Thirty-Five Holocaust Memorials. (Farrar Straus and Giroux $25), which has been described by André Aciman as “vast and deep in its fiercely unsentimental consideration of how we remember the Holocaust.”

In July 1942, the French police in Paris, acting for the German military government, arrested Victor Ripp’s 3-year-old cousin, Alexandre. Two months later, the boy was killed in Auschwitz. Mr. Ripp examines this act through the prism of family history. In addition to Alexandre, ten members of his family on his father’s side died in the Holocaust. His mother’s side of the family, numbering 30 people, was in Berlin when Hitler came to power. Without exception they escaped the Final Solution.

According to Anna Bikont, author of The Crime and the Silence, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, “The Axis of Exile and the Axis of the Holocaust—the two axes that define the space of the Jewish Museum in Berlin—also define the fate of the family of Victor Ripp’s family.  more

On Saturday, April 8, Jasna Polana was transformed into a sizzling milonga (tango club) for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) gala “Under the Stars in Buenos Aires.” Tango music performed by violin virtuoso Daniel Rowland and PSO musicians, professional tango dancers, and exotic décor evoked a sultry summer night in the city. The evening raised funds for the orchestra and its PSO BRAVO! education programs, particularly for a new initiative to bring the PSO’s music into the Trenton Public Schools. Pictured from left: Dave Tierno, Stephanie Wedeking, and Daniel Rowland. (Photo Credit: Princeton Symphony Orchestra) 

Princeton Day School received nine nominations from the Montclair State University Theatre Awards Committee for the fall production of Macbeth. Two of the student performers, Hope Ammidon ’18 (Princeton), as Lady Macbeth, top, and Emily Trend ’18 (Pennington), as Macbeth, were both nominated for awards. The awards will be held on Monday, May 15 at Montclair State University.

This year’s Princeton Festival Gala will go beyond its usual helping of fun, good food, dancing, and auctions to include a demonstration of the new Steinway Spirio piano, a breakthrough in technology that accurately recreates live performances in the listener’s own living room.

The gala will take place on Saturday, April 22 at 6 p.m. at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. Cocktails only and full-dinner reservations can be made at princetonfestival.org/event/2017-gala until April 20.  more

On Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., the Kingston Greenways Association will welcome Jim Wade, former archivist and researcher at the New Jersey State Museum. Wade will discuss the significance and importance of the Indian way of life during the spring season. Emphasis will be on community activities, such as fishing, crop planting, gathering, hunting, and village life. The presentation will also examine the local Indian villages that once existed in the Kingston region and Lenape family names. Actual New Jersey stone artifacts will be on display. The event is free to attend and will take place at the Kingston Firehouse, 8 Heathcote Road in Kingston. For more information, call (609) 750-1821.