September 27, 2017

By Anne Levin

After a decade of planning and four years of construction, the studios, rehearsal rooms, and theaters at Princeton University’s ambitious Lewis Center for the Arts have opened on schedule. Music, dance, and drama classes are underway in the three buildings along Alexander Street and University Place, part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit development.

“It’s rare to have a project to work on that is transformative on a performance level and on the programs housed within,” said Noah Yaffe of Steven Holl Architects, during a press tour of the complex on Monday. “What is so fascinating is that we’re maximizing the visibility of the arts while maximizing the porosity of the place.” more

By Donald Gilpin

About 50 people, many carrying signs, gathered in Palmer Square at noon on Saturday to rally for diplomacy, not war with North Korea.

In a demonstration organized by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) in response to heated rhetoric and threats, including President Trump’s threat at the United Nations last week to “totally destroy” North Korea, eight different speakers called for de-escalation and diplomacy rather than the saber-rattling that has been characteristic of the dialogue on both sides. more

By Anne Levin

The project to replace the bridges that span the historic Stony Brook will be completed on schedule by November 3. Deanna Stockton, Princeton’s municipal engineer, reported the news to Princeton Council at the governing body’s meeting Monday, September 25.

The completion of the project, which began on July 5, is “perfect timing for the half marathon on the fifth,” said Stockton, referring to the annual Princeton HiTOPS Half Marathon, which draws crowds to the area. more

NEW MUSIC: Sandbox Percussion (pictured) will be among the twelve acts performing at this Sunday’s Unruly Sounds festival. Now in its third year, the event features composers and performances by local artists and Princeton University affiliates.

By Doug Wallack

On Sunday, October 1, Hinds Plaza, adjacent to the Princeton Public Library, will play host to the third annual Unruly Sounds festival — a showcase of composers and new music from local artists and from the Princeton University Department of Music.

Mika Godbole, the festival’s organizer, says that this year’s lineup has more of a singer-songwriter focus than in past years — more of an emphasis on groove-based music than on the highly experimental music that has been Unruly Sound’s signature in past years. But it will hardly be a pop lineup. Acts will include smpl (an electronics and percussion duo, joined by dancer Ursula Eagly), the electro-country group Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves (equal parts synthesizer and slide guitar), and compositions by PU Professor Dan Trueman for prepared digital piano — full of otherworldly pitch-bending, delay, and waveforms played backward.  more

OBAMA AND TRUMP: New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker, author of the recent book “Obama: The Call of History,” spoke to a full house Monday night at Princeton University’s Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall, on the subject of President Obama’s legacy in the current Trump era. 

By Donald Gilpin

Peter Baker is still trying to figure out who is Barack Obama, and what exactly will be the substance of his legacy?

Chief White House correspondent for the New York Times since 2008, Baker told a full-house gathering of about 200 at Princeton University’s Arthur Lewis Auditorium, Robertson Hall on Monday that he wrote his new book, Obama: the Call of History (June 2017), to try and tackle those questions.  more

James Wellemeyer

By Donald Gilpin

In a political climate that looks each day more contentious, toxic, and discouraging, what sort of recruitment campaign could ever inspire young people to get involved in politics?

Lawrenceville School senior James Wellemeyer has the answer to that question, and he has written a civics e-textbook, Young Voices, on youth political involvement to spread the word. In addition to his book, that will be launched at the Chapin School this spring and is currently under review for future use at a number of other public and private schools, Wellemeyer is working to create a Presidential Youth Council and a New Jersey Gubernatorial Youth Council to give high school students more visible platforms on which to express their views and propose solutions to political issues. more

“SIMPATICO”: Performances are underway for A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of “Simpatico.” Directed by ensemble member Dado, the play runs through October 15 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Vinnie (Guy Van Swearingen, left) threatens to sabotage the veneer of respectability that is carefully maintained by his ex-partner Carter (Michael Shannon. (Photo by Richard Termine)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre has opened its season with Sam Shepard’s Simpatico. Asked by The New York Times what makes actors good in their work, the playwright — who died July 27 —responded, “Adventure. An actor who’s willing to jump off the cliff, he’s going to go anywhere.” This production proves Shepard’s point.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Fifty years ago this week at EMI’s Abbey Road studios, the Beatles were recording John Lennon’s “I Am the Walrus,” a rock and roll tour de force unlike anything in popular music before it, including other Beatles pinnacles like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “A Day in the Life” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Lennon has claimed on numerous occasions that the bizarre, unabashedly nonsensical lyrics were written to baffle listeners looking for hidden meanings, including in particular the English teacher at Lennon’s old school whose class was studying Beatles lyrics.  more

SPRINTING TO VICTORY: Princeton University football player Charlie Volker eludes a foe in 2016 action. Last Saturday at Lafayette, junior running back Volker, an Ivy League champion sprinter, rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries to help the Tigers cruise to a 38-17 win over the Leopards. Princeton, now 2-0, hosts Columbia (2-0) on September 30 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming into its clash at Lafayette last Saturday, the Princeton University football team was determined to unleash its ground attack.

“We felt that we weren’t tight enough in our run blocking; we weren’t doing a great job on our double teams, getting at the backers,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace. more

BACK ON TRACK: Princeton University field hockey player Maddie Bacskai controls the ball in recent action. Last Sunday, senior star Bacskai scored the lone goal as 17th-ranked Princeton defeated No. 24 Boston University 1-0 to post its third straight win. The Tigers, now 4-4 overall and 1-0 Ivy League, host Yale on September 29 and play at No. 6 Syracuse on October 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Running through a gauntlet of nationally ranked foes, the Princeton University field hockey team went winless in its first four contests against Top 20 squads this fall.

Last week, 17th-ranked Princeton broke through against No. 10 Maryland, posting a dramatic 2-1 win over the Terps on September 19, taking a 2-0 lead and then holding off a furious charge from their foes. more

SETTING THE PACE: Princeton High girls’ distance runner Chloe Taylor competes in a track meet this past spring. Last Saturday, senior star Taylor helped the PHS girls’ cross country team take fourth in the Girls Varsity 1 race at the Bowdoin Cross Country Classic in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. Taylor placed seventh individually, covering the 5,000-meter course in 20:38.40. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Jim Smirk, guiding the Princeton High girls’ cross country team this fall has centered on blending some key veterans with precocious newcomers.

A pair of seniors, Chloe Taylor and Lauren Cleary, along with freshmen Charlotte Gilmore and Chloe Ayers, and sophomores Erica Oake and Lizzy Hare, have been running at the front of the pack for PHS. more

September 20, 2017

Thousands of music lovers gathered in Palmer Square on Sunday for the 26th annual JazzFeast, which featured performances by some of the industry’s best jazz musicians and showcased food from many of the area’s finest restaurants. Fans share their favorite jazz greats in this week’s Town Talk, and more photos are on page 22A. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Donald Gilpin

About 200 professors, colleagues, friends, their families, and other supporters gathered in Princeton University’s East Pyne Courtyard Friday evening to hold a candlelight vigil in support of Xiyue Wang, a graduate student who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past 13 months.

Speakers, who included Wang’s wife, two of his professors, and several of his colleagues and friends, focused mostly on Wang’s qualities as a person, a scholar, a husband, and father to a 4-year-old son. Those closest to Wang, 37, described him as a talented, ambitious, dedicated scholar, full of intellectual curiosity and interest in Iranian culture, a steadfast friend and a loving family man with a distinct flair for cooking.  more

By Anne Levin

During the public comment period at Princeton Council’s meeting on September 11, the issue of fire safety was raised by two residents of the town. Paul Driscoll and Alexi Assmus asked Council to consider making round-the-clock fire watches a requirement during construction of large-scale, wood housing.

Their request was motivated by the recent announcement that Sunrise Senior Living wants to construct a 76-unit development on North Harrison Street, near Princeton Shopping Center. The plans call for a two-story building with 52 units, and a one-story building with 25. more

By Donald Gilpin

In a “State of the Community” dialogue with Princeton business leaders at the Nassau Inn Tuesday morning, Mayor Liz Lempert, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton, and Police Chief Nick Sutter presented a positive picture of projects underway and challenges ahead for the community.

Though expressing concern about vacancies in office and retail space in town, Lempert pointed out a number of economic development projects already underway. “Many other communities are trying to invent what we have here naturally,” she said. She mentioned the high level of activity in Princeton, numerous public events, and placemaking projects including the farmers’ market, the Dohm Alley art exhibit, the parklet outside jaZams, the Arts Council’s pop-in spaces, and opportunities to enhance collaboration with Princeton University. more

SHARING HIS STORY: Chef Jeff Henderson, left, shown with the Trenton Rescue Mission’s chef David Jawidzik, paid a visit to the Mission last week and gave an inspirational talk to clients about his road from prison to celebrity chef, author, and motivational speaker.

By Anne Levin

It would be an understatement to say that Jeff Henderson had a challenging childhood in South Central Los Angeles. Raised in poverty by a single mother, he learned to make money — eventually, some $35,000 a week — selling cocaine and crack. It all caught up with him when, at the age of 23, he was arrested and sent to federal prison for drug trafficking.  more

WELCOME VISITORS: Margaret Vanmarke, left, a volunteer with HomeFriends, makes weekly visits to Eileen Behrens, right, to help keep her from becoming socially isolated. The Princeton Senior Resource Center program is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

By Anne Levin

When Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) sends a volunteer to help a homebound elderly or disabled member of the community, they don’t choose just anybody. Participants in PSRC’s HomeFriends program, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, are matched with clients for similar interests, personalities, and needs. more

The Princeton’s Children’s Book Festival will take place on Saturday, September 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, on Hinds Plaza. More than 80 children’s literature authors and illustrators will participate in the festival, one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast. Fans of all ages will have the opportunity to purchase books supplied by jaZams, meet with authors and illustrators, and have their books signed. more

“WATER SHARING”: This painting by Nancie Gunkelman is featured in the exhibit “Same Moon: Diverse Voices of Nature,” at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, which runs through October 22. A reception will be held at the Center on Friday, September 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s newest exhibition, “Same Moon: Diverse Voices of Nature,” shows how artists, whether in China, Africa, or the U.S., view nature through divergent lenses. Artists Kenneth J. Lewis Sr., Nancie Gunkelman, and Chih Yu Fan are unified in their appreciation for nature. Some of the artwork for this exhibition has been shipped from China. A reception will be held on Friday, September 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. more

“SHADOW AND LIGHT”: This painting by Paulette Van Roekens depicts a scene behind the stage of the Pennsylvania Academy of Music in the 1930s. It is included in the “New American Painting Collection” exhibit which will run at the Grantz Gallery and Conservation Studio in Doylestown, Pa., from October 1 through December 31.

Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio has announced the unveiling of a “New American Painting Collection” exhibit. Many of these paintings have never been offered before and are fresh to the market. This special event is the latest exhibition at the gallery’s new location on Silo Hill Road in Doylestown, Pa. The exhibition will be held at the Gallery and Conservation Studio location from October 1 through December 31.  more

Local Princeton painter Cvetko Ivanov (known as Ivan) sells his original acrylic paintings every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) on his front porch, located at 15 Vandeventer Avenue in the heart of Princeton. Originally from Bulgaria, Ivan specializes in images of flowers and the natural world. He is also an established muralist and has worked on several homes in Princeton, along with fine finishes for walls, ceilings, furniture, and mantels. To contact Ivan, call (609) 454-1334. 

“CHAPTER TWO”: Performances are underway for Pegasus Theatre Project’s production of “Chapter Two.” Directed by Jennifer Nasta Zefutie, the play runs through September 24 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Left to right: Leo Schneider (Frank Falisi, standing) and Faye Medwick (Sarah Stryker, standing) attempt to make — then stall — a match between George Schneider (Peter Bisgaier) and Jennie Malone (Heather Plank). (Photo by John M. Maurer)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Pegasus Theatre Project is presenting Chapter Two at the West Windsor Arts Center. In Neil Simon’s bittersweet romantic comedy, a widowed novelist begins a relationship with a divorced actress. The match is facilitated and encouraged by the novelist’s brother and the actress’s friend.  more

NEW ERA AT PASSAGE: C. Ryanne Domingues has taken over as artistic director at Trenton’s Passage Theatre, replacing June Ballinger, who guided the company for more than two decades in creating and producing socially-relevant new plays and community-devised arts programming.

By Donald Gilpin

Trenton’s Passage Theatre Company has a new artistic director as it prepares for the opening of its fall season.

C. Ryanne Domingues, co-founder and former producing artistic director of Simpatico Theatre in Philadelphia, has taken over the leading role from June Ballinger, who announced last month that she would be stepping down after 22 years at the helm. Ballinger will return to her career as a writer, actor, and teacher, continuing her association with Passage as an artistic advisor for this season and teacher of adult acting classes. more

By Stuart Mitchner

When my wife and I checked into the Library Hotel in New York eight years ago, we were installed in the Paranormal Room. We didn’t ask for the Paranormal Room. If we’d known about the hotel’s subject area concept, we might have requested a room on the 7th floor (the Arts) or the 8th (Literature). Even so, we were okay with being in room 11.05 on the 9th floor (Philosophy), though neither of us has ever been seriously into fantasy, science fiction, or the occult unless you count teenage readings of Ray Bradbury, a few seasons of Star Trek, and a brief fling with Carlos Castaneda (a copy of The Art of Dreaming was on the bedside table, along with volumes on ghosts, ESP, and UFOs).  more

“LUMINA”: Westminster Kantorei’s new recording was released on the Westminster Choir College label on September 15. Recorded in the Princeton University Chapel and conducted by Amanda Quist, it features music from the Baroque and Renaissance periods that focus on the presence of light in our lives. “Lumina” is available from Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and other major download and streaming sites.

Westminster Choir College has released Lumina, a new recording by Westminster Kantorei, conducted by Amanda Quist.  more