July 24, 2019

SPECIAL RECOGNITION: The young string players, their teachers, and administrators from Trenton Music Makers have been chosen to take part in PlayUSA, a network of music education organizations based at New York’s Carnegie Hall. (Photo by Nick Donnoli Productions LLC)

By Anne Levin

It has been less than five years since Trenton Music Makers began teaching Trenton Public School students to play violin, viola, cello, and bass. Despite its youth, the program was recently selected for membership in the PlayUSA network, part of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

That means a $30,000 grant, training for teaching artists from Carnegie Hall staff, and interactions with some of the 16 other musical organizations that have also been selected for 2019-20.

“We are delighted, and honored, and proud, of course,” said Carol Burden, executive director of Trenton Music Makers. “This is giving us exactly what we want, which is wonderful professional development, opportunities for our teachers to learn, and a chance to show people that what we’re doing is successful.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The heat over the weekend was extreme, and the late Monday storms were intense, but impacts were much greater in surrounding Mercer and Monmouth counties than in Princeton.

“It’s amazing to me,” said Bob Gregory, director of Princeton Emergency and Safety Services. “Princeton fared pretty well.”

Princeton Police Department (PPD) Assistant Press Information Officer Fred Williams agreed. “We came through it pretty well, which is unusual,” he said. “It usually hits us. There were some sporadic power outages, some older trees came down, but within Princeton’s borders we were lucky.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Incumbents Debbie Bronfeld and Greg Stankiewicz and new candidate Susan Kanter are gearing up for this fall’s race for three available spots on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE). At press time Kanter had officially filed with the Mercer County clerk, while Bronfeld and Stankiewicz, whose terms end this year, were preparing to file by the 4 p.m. July 29 deadline.

Bill Hare, whose term also expires on January 1, 2020, was undecided, but “tending towards not filing” for re-election. The candidates will be competing for three-year terms on the 10-member Board. more

By Stuart Mitchner

During the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, Ross and Matt, waved a magic wand and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime character in Eleven, the fugitive child with telekinetic powers played by Millie Bobby Brown.

In Stranger Things 3, the Duffers have conjured up a white rabbit surprise in the form of a romantic comedy that blends screwball fun and creature feature clout. No need to worry about spoiler alerts and such because when the dust clears what makes the ride worth taking has less to do with why or how or who gets slimed, who dies and who doesn’t, than with the old boy-girl, man-woman, person-person scenario that’s been delighting audiences ever since Shakespeare dreamed up the star-crossed lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hollywood paired Katherine Hepburn’s scatterbrained Susan with Cary Grant’s hapless paleontologist in Bringing Up Baby, where romance turns on the search for a lost dinosaur bone, a dog named George, and a leopard named Baby. The best thing about the spectacular doings of the Mindflayer in Stranger Things 3 is the challenge it offers the various amusingly human couples fighting, arguing, laughing and loving their way through life-and-death situations. When it comes down to choosing between human beings and special effects, it’s the human moments you hold close. Twenty-two years this side of Titanic, what stays with you, the sinking of a luxury liner or the romance between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack and Kate Winslet’s Rose?  more

By Nancy Plum

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra spent last week in Princeton coaching and guiding four contemporary composers in an immersive laboratory experience through which the talented participants received musical and practical feedback about their pieces, composing for a symphonic orchestra, and getting music published and performed in today’s market. Dichotomy, conflict, and ultimate hope seemed to be the overriding themes of the pieces resulting from this year’s Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, as these works were presented in a concert entitled Scores last Saturday night at Richardson Auditorium. Led by Romanian conductor Cristian Macelaru, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed four works of the Cone Institute’s composers, along with an East Coast premiere of Institute director and Princeton University professor Steven Mackey. more

The final concert of the Blue Curtain series at Pettoranello Gardens Ampitheater features the Afro-Cuban music of OKAN and Latin-jazz legend Charlie Sepulveda and The Turnaround, shown here. Bring picnics and blankets to the free concert, which starts at 7 p.m. on July 27. The ampitheater is at Route 206 and Mountain Avenue. The bad weather location is the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center.

“CELEBRATION”: This work by Aleksandra Seletskaya is featured in an exhibit of works by Creative Collective/Tuesday Colorists Groups, on view at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury August 4-30. An opening reception is Sunday, August 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Gourgaud Gallery, 23 North Main Street, Cranbury, will present “Celebration,” an exhibit by Creative Collective/Tuesday Colorists Groups, August 4 through August 30. An opening reception with the artists will be held on Sunday, August 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Gallery. Light refreshments will be served. All events are free and open to the public. more

“TRANSITION”: This 1965 work, originally commissioned for the J. C. Penney Headquarters Building in New York City, is featured in “The Poetry of Sculpture: Raymond Granville Barger (1906–2001),” on view through October 20 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., now features “The Poetry of Sculpture: Raymond Granville Barger (1906–2001),” on view through October 20.

Visitors have the opportunity to meander through the indoor and outdoor exhibition viewing objects from the museum’s permanent collection as well as several loans, many of which come from private collections. Rarely exhibited works from the 1930s provide insight into Barger’s early classical approach, while later sculptures signal his development as a symbolic abstractionist as well as a technical innovator.

While best-known for his monumental outdoor sculptures, including works for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Barger also created smaller-scale, more intimate works for interior spaces. His Transition, a 25-foot long bronze sculpture originally commissioned for the J. C. Penney Headquarters Building in New York City in 1965, has graced the Byers Garden at the Michener since the year after the museum opened. more

THREE BALL: Kareem Maddox goes up for a shot in the 2010-11 season during his senior campaign for the Princeton University men’s basketball team. Maddox, the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Ivy League selection in 2011, is moving up the ranks in the United Stares 3×3 hoops program. Recently, he teamed up with Robbie Hummel, Damon Huffman, and Canyon Barry to help the U.S. defeat Latvia for its first World Cup championship title at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup in Amsterdam. In late June, Maddox was selected for the USA Men’s 3×3 Pan American Games team that will play in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, from July 27-August 10. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

By Justin Feil

Five years after former Princeton University men’s basketball star Kareem Maddox retired from playing professional ball overseas, he has a realistic shot at the 2020 Olympics.

After working as a radio host and producer in his hometown Los Angeles and then Colorado, the 2011 Princeton graduate has revived a chance at his childhood dream through 3×3 basketball which will be contested at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for the first time.

“It’s unbelievable,” said the multi-talented 6’ 8, 220-pound Maddox.  more

SEEING THE LIGHT: Elizabeth Brennan controls the ball during a game in the fall of 2017 as she played in her senior season for the Princeton Day School field hockey team. Matriculating to Princeton University last fall, Brennan has switched from the turf to the water, walking on to the Tiger women’s lightweight rowing program. She competed for the third varsity eight this past spring for Princeton. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Some of Elizabeth Brennan’s fondest memories of her time at Princeton Day School came from playing field hockey and lacrosse.

When Brennan went across town last fall to start her freshman year at Princeton University, she felt a void in her life.

“I missed being on a team,” said Brennan. “I think it is one of the biggest things that I loved about high school, having my teammates and having that connection with them.”

Searching for a new sporting outlet, Brennan went to the school’s athletic exposition last September to survey her options. more

DIPLOMATIC APPROACH: Bridget Kane, right, battles to get past a foe in a game during her career for the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team. This past spring, Kane competed in her debut season for the Franklin & Marshall women’s program, helping the Diplomats advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Bridget Kane started going to the Franklin & Marshall lacrosse camp in seventh grade, she was focusing on sharpening her skills.

“I did the college camps, not to get recruited but to improve my game,” said Kane.

Entering the Princeton Day School in the fall of 2014, Kane got serious about the college recruiting process.

“My freshman year is when I started going to the big recruiting tournaments,” said Kane. “It was really real, that it is was an option to play in college.” more

By Bill Alden

A week ago, NJ Spiritwear cruised to a 69-46 win over Hometown Moving and Storage at the Community Park courts in its final game of regular season play in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

When the teams met for a rematch in a quarterfinal contest inside a steamy John Witherspoon Middle School gym last Monday evening, second-seeded Spiritwear struggled to find a rhythm in the early going against seventh-seeded Hometown Moving, clinging to a 16-12 lead at halftime

In reflecting on the sluggish start for Spiritwear, guard Tyler Jones acknowledged that moving inside to the stifling gym took some adjustment.

“The indoor court was the biggest difference,” said Jones. “We started off a little slow. It is hot in here and the ball got a little wet.” more

July 17, 2019

A magical array of participants lined up to show off their costumes in the Fairy Fashion Show, held last Saturday at the annual Summer Fairy Festival at The Watershed Institute in Pennington. The event also featured crafts, dancing around the maypole, constructing villages, and strolling with water sprites. Festivalgoers share their favorite magical story or character in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

“ANGRY AND UPSET AND DETERMINED”: Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker addressed the crowd of about 400 at the Lights for Liberty rally to support immigrants’ rights Friday night in Hinds Plaza. He urged an end to a policy of separating children from their parents at the border. (Photo by Andrea Kane)

By Donald Gilpin

Lighting candles “for liberty,” carrying signs, and chanting “close the camps,” more than 400 demonstrators gathered in Hinds Plaza Friday night to rally for immigrants’ rights and to protest policies of the Trump administration.

Sponsored by several local activist groups, Princeton’s Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps was one of more than 700 events held across the country and around the world as tensions continue to rise over conditions at border detention centers and warnings of large-scale nationwide immigration raids.

“Values of our country are being trampled on again and again under this administration,” Princeton Councilwoman Leticia Fraga told the demonstrators. “We must demand that our country keep its promises. We cannot look away.”  more

By Anne Levin

There has been no swimming, boating, or fishing on Rosedale Lake at Pennington’s Mercer Meadows Park this summer. The culprit is the discovery of a harmful algal bloom (HAB), which has also closed the Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County and Lake Hopatcong in Morris and Sussex counties.

Stormwater experts blame the problem on a lack of watershed protections and stormwater management at the state level. But according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), updates to the state’s stormwater management rules, which were rolled back under the Christie administration, have been proposed and are pending adoption.

“This is going to be the summer of closed swimming areas. Rosedale Lake in Mercer County has now joined the list,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a press release. “The failure to implement proper watershed protections and stormwater management have allowed harmful algal blooms (HAB) to get out of hand. Lake Hopatcong has been shut down since June 27. The Spruce Run Reservoir has been off limits to swimmers for more than a month. Swartswood Lake was closed for a week in June before reopening. Overdevelopment and stormwater runoff are causing nutrients to pour into our lakes allowing the algae to thrive.” more

By Donald Gilpin

AvalonBayCommunities, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT) that already owns 280 apartment units on Witherspoon Street, has recently signed a contract to purchase for an undisclosed amount the 15-acre Thanet property at 100 and 101 Thanet Circle off Terhune Road from the KABR Group, a real estate developer based in Ridgefield Park.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert announced at last week’s Council meeting that the town has been in discussions with AvalonBay over “a number of options for including affordable housing as part of any future development there.”

Lempert could not disclose further details about the Thanet sale, but she did comment briefly on the the town’s ongoing work in revising its affordable housing proposal. She noted that they are close to a final plan, but “we have not yet reached a final settlement and, therefore, we are precluded from sharing details of those discussions or our proposed plan at this time.” more

EYES ON THE SKY: Astronomy buffs are hoping for clear weather on three upcoming evenings, when local experts will bring out their telescopes to view the sky above. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

For astronomy enthusiasts, summer is prime time to search the night sky. The weather is balmy. People are on vacation, giving them time to watch for meteors, look for passing satellites, and peer through telescopes and binoculars for deep sky objects like the Ring Nebula, the Coathanger, or the Dumbbell Nebula, to name a few.

There are skywatches scheduled for three locations in coming weeks, starting with Stargazing at Morven on Thursday, July 25. Stargazing at Mountain Lakes House is Wednesday, August 7, and Rancocas Nature Center has planned Star Watch/Astronomy Night for Friday, August 30. Princeton University’s Peyton Observatory holds regular star watch events with its 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on the roof of Peyton Hall, with the next two scheduled for July 31 and August 28. more

MEDICAL MISSION: Princeton Charter School (PCS) Science and Music Teacher and Operation Smile Club Advisor Brian Ciuffreda last month joined an Operation Smile mission to Vietnam. The PCS student club has raised money for more than 100 surgeries over the past two years. (Photo courtesy of Operation Smile)

By Donald Gilpin

Brian Ciuffreda was in his 20s and working in business when 9/11 set him on a different trajectory. “I said to myself: ‘I want to do something more meaningful,’” he recalled. “I moved into education.”

After a year as K-12 music director at Trenton Catholic Academy, Ciuffreda came to Princeton Charter School (PCS) in 2003 to teach science. Seventeen years later he is still doing that, but he has pursued a few more assignments along the way, including math teacher, music teacher, jazz ensemble director, professional musician, technology coordinator, and sports coach.

A Renaissance man? “I’ve been called that,” he admitted, and his success at his most recent new job as founder and advisor to the PCS Operation Smile Club since 2017 promises to make him busier than ever in the coming years. more

By Anne Levin

Since founding the Suppers program 14 years ago at her Princeton kitchen table, Dorothy Mullen has helped hundreds of people feel better by teaching them how to avoid processed foods and environmental toxins, and embrace a healthier way of eating to fuel the body and brain. The nonprofit has grown to a network of support groups with more than 30 trained facilitators, who currently hold 23 meetings a month where members cook together, eat together, and share stories and experiences.

Now Suppers is facing a sobering next step. Mullen was diagnosed in early April with stage IV lung cancer, and has elected to forgo treatment. Instead, she is at home, currently on hospice but receiving visitors for an hour each evening, and helping plan for Suppers to carry on her vision without her.

Before founding Suppers, Mullen was involved in the creation of vegetable gardens for Princeton Public Schools (PPS). The Board of Education was to honor her at its meeting Tuesday night, July 16, with a special proclamation. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
—William Wordsworth

The younger you are, the closer you are to the moon, whether it’s dangling in a mobile above the crib, or the funny-faced thing the cow jumped over, or the serene presence just outside the bedroom window you’re saying goodnight to as you serenade your drowsy two-year-old with the little book by Margaret Wise Brown. In the story made at once wondrous and intimate by Clement Hurd’s images, the moon is there with you, in the “great green room,” as close and as real as the teddy bears and the kittens and the telephone. I’m also thinking of the moonlight immediacy captured some 220 years ago by Samuel Taylor Coleridge when the author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner grabbed his notebook to jot down this entry about his first-born child: “Hartley fell down & hurt himself — I caught him up crying & screaming — & ran out of doors with him. — The Moon caught his eye — he ceased crying immediately; — & his eyes & the tears in them, how they glittered in the Moonlight!”  more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts ended its 2019 season last week with a return to the classics, as Canada’s Rolston String Quartet performed the final concert of the series. Formed six years ago at the picturesque and renowned Banff Arts Center in Alberta, Canada, the Rolston String Quartet provided a fitting close to a season featuring innovation by showing the future of classical music through the masterworks of the past. Violinists Luri Lee and Emily Kruspe, violist Hezekiah Leung, and cellist Jonathan Lo dazzled the audience at Richardson Auditorium last Friday night with their musicality and energetic approach to the works of string quartet masters Franz Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven bracketing a complex piece by 20th-century Hungarian composer György Ligeti.

“Papa” Haydn is considered the father of the string quartet genre, which Beethoven subsequently pushed to new musical boundaries. Among Haydn’s most well-known string quartet compositions are those contained in Opus 76, the last complete set of the more than 60 quartets the composer wrote. Quartet No. 63 in Bb Major, the fourth of Opus 76, acquired the nickname “Sunrise” for its depiction of the sun coming up over the horizon, and the Rolston String Quartet brought out well the diverse shadings one sees in an early sunlit sky. In the first movement “allegro con spirito,” the Rolston players placed their musical emphasis on “con spirito,” energetically moving through the allegro with clean sforzandi accents and a light violin sound from Lee’s Baroque-era instrument. Lee and Kruspe also demonstrated especially sweet thirds between the two violin parts. more

SHAKESPEARE AND SOCK PUPPETS: The cast of Princeton Summer Theater’s “Puck’s Midsummer Mischief.” Shows are at the Hamilton Murray Theater, Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. through August 3. For tickets, call (732) 997-0205 or visit princetonsummertheater.org. (Photo by JJ Haddad)

Princeton Summer Theater’s annual children’s production brings together a William Shakespeare classic with sock puppets.

“I didn’t mean to write a children’s play about open borders,” Princeton Summer Theater (PST) playwright-in-resident Annika Bennett said. “But I guess that’s what I did.”

Bennett’s Puck’s Midsummer Mischief is her fourth children’s theater piece commissioned for Princeton Summer Theater. A Seattle-based playwright and arts administrator, Bennett created original works throughout her time at Princeton University (she graduated in 2015) and has found a niche writing plays for audiences of all ages. Her work is accessible for younger theatergoers and fun for older ones, and has a heavy emphasis on audience engagement. more

PERCUSSIVE SOUNDS: The 11th annual So Percussion Summer Institute is at Princeton University through July 27, bringing unique sounds on unique instruments to several locations around town. All of the public performances are free.

So Percussion, the Princeton University Edward T. Cone Ensemble-in-Residence, has begun the 2019 So Percussion Summer Institute (“SoSI”). Now in its 11th year, the two-week chamber music seminar is a summer cultural tradition in Princeton, with showcases of the range of percussion instruments included in the institute.

Free performances are being held through July 27 at locations on and off the campus, including the Lewis Center for the Arts, Small World Coffee, Hinds Plaza, and Fine Hall. This year’s institute centers on the “Culture of Collaboration,” drawing attention to the web of contributors involved in every successful artistic project. In addition to performances and an annual food-packing event for Arm in Arm (formerly the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County), the institute includes premieres of new pieces written by Princeton University graduate student composers, masterclasses with composers and performers, and open readings of participants’ works-in-progress by members of So Percussion. more

“DREAMING IN COLOR”: “Colors of Spring” by Debbie Pisacreta, above, and “Sunday in the Park” by Maxine Shore, below, will be featured in a two-person exhibit on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville August 8 through September 1. An opening reception is Saturday, August 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Fine artists Debbie Pisacreta and Maxine Shore will exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions in a two-person show, “Dreaming in Color,” on view August 8 through September 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is Saturday, August 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. more

“THE FIGURE A PORTRAIT MAKES”: This portrait by Ramie Ahmed is among works by ten current or former MCCC Visual Arts students to be featured in a new exhibit at MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton July 29 through August 23. A community reception is scheduled for August 2 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) in Trenton presents “The Figure a Portrait Makes,” contemporary interpretations of the genre of portraiture by ten current and former MCCC Visual Arts students. The exhibition runs Monday, July 29 through Friday, August 23.

The exhibit features photography by Ramie Ahmed, Timothy Dill, John Labaw, Elizabeth Mayer, Isaiah Mcrae, Julia Pfaar, Regina Ritter, Danielle Rackowski, Zac Santanello, and Grace Spencer. more