September 20, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

Music is only understood when one goes away singing it and only loved when one falls asleep with it in one’s head, and finds it still there on waking up the next morning.

—Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

You know how it is at dusk when the day has ended but it hasn’t? The ambiance of that time of day was all through everything we played.

—Richard Davis (1930-2023) on recording Astral Weeks

I’m driving Mr. Schoenberg around Princeton on his 149th birthday, it’s a fine September day, everything’s clear and bright, and we’re listening to Pierre lunaire, the atonal 21-song “melodrama” Mr. S. composed in 1912 and conducted in Berlin that October.

“Poor brave Albertine,” Mr. S. says, referring to the soprano Albertine Zehme, the vocalist/narrator at the Berlin premiere. “The real melodrama was in the audience. She had to contend with whistling, booing, laughter, and unaussprechlich insults, but the loudest voice in that crowd was the one shouting ‘Shoot him! Shoot him!’ Meaning me.”

To those who say there’s no way I could be conversing with an Austrian-American composer who died on Friday the 13th, July 1951, I’ll quote my passenger, who in 1909 announced his “complete liberation from form and symbols, cohesion and logic” because it’s “impossible to feel only one emotion. Man has many feelings, thousands at a time, each going its own way — this multicoloured, polymorphic, illogical nature of our feelings, and their associations, a rush of blood, reactions in our senses, in our nerves” is all “in my music… an expression of feeling, full of unconscious connections.” more

BRINGING SPANISH RHYTHM TO BALLET: Nayara Lopes and Arian Molina Soca of Philadelphia Ballet appear in “Carmen,” with choreography by Angel Corella. (Photo by Alexander Iziliaev)

The 2023-2024 season of Philadelphia Ballet, formerly known as Pennsylvania Ballet, marks two major milestones: the 60th anniversary of the company’s founding, and the 10th anniversary of Angel Corella’s appointment as artistic director.

The season opens at the Academy of Music October 5 with the world premiere of Corella’s Carmen. Corella is building his version from scratch — creating an outline for the story, planning the sets — even buying and designing costumes. He spent a week in Spain purchasing castanets, head pieces, and flamenco pants. more

MUSIC AND MORE: The Justin Lee Jazz Trio is among the performers at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Harvest Moon Ball, a benefit for the historic Point Breeze Estate in Bordentown.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s first-ever Harvest Moon Ball, featuring musicians and theater performers, will be held at the Discovery Center at Point Breeze on the evening of September 30, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at 101 Park Street, Bordentown. The ticket price of $60 supports the historic and ecologically important property and can be purchased at, or by calling (609) 924-4646. 

In the tradition of Joseph Bonaparte, the exiled King of Spain who entertained prominent scientists, artists, and leaders at Point Breeze in the 1820s and 1830s, guests are invited to dress as someone who once visited Point Breeze or to come as they are to see who’s who. Prominent people who visited in the 19th century included the Marquis de Lafyette, Dolley Madison, John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John James Audubon, Louis Mailliard, and Joseph Bonaparte’s daughter Zenaide, for whom a dove was named.  more

Bob Jenkins

Bob Jenkins: In His Own Words, a short film about the life of the Princeton resident and sculptor who taught children for many years at the Arts Council of Princeton, will be shown on Tuesday, September 26, at 6:30 p.m., in the Community Room of Princeton Public Library.

The screening will be followed by a reception attended by Jenkins, who is 92, and filmmaker and Princeton resident Krysia Kolodziej. During the reception, there will be a Q&A session where Jenkins will talk about his life and Kolodziej will discuss the making of the film. There will also be a scavenger hunt where children will look for the library’s “Cheetah” sculpture created by Jenkins. Light refreshments will be served.

Jenkins arrived in Princeton from New York City in 1991. He began teaching clay and paper mache sculpture to children at the Arts Council of Princeton in 1993.

This event is co-presented with the Arts Council of Princeton. Visit for more information.

“THE PREDICTIVE SELF”: This work by Andrew Werth of West Windsor is part of “Patterns and Rhythms,” a group exhibition on view September 28 through November 25 at the Trenton Free Public Library. An opening reception is on September 28 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Trenton Artists Workshop Association (TAWA) and the Trenton Free Public Library will present the exhibition “Patterns and Rhythms” at the Trenton Free Public Library from September 28 through November 25. This a continuation of the art series that showcases the talent of area artists, which is slated to continue as an ongoing series. An opening reception is set for Thursday, September 28, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The exhibition features work by Andrew Werth, Léni Paquet-Morante, Florence Noonan, and Adriana Groza.  more

“GARDEN STATE”: Artist Anandi Ramanathan, whose work is shown here, will be the featured speaker for the “Inside the Artist’s Studio” series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center on Friday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m.

On Friday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m., artist Anandi Ramanathan will be the featured speaker for the “Inside the Artist’s Studio” series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center. Ramanathan, a member of the Princeton Makes artist cooperative, is a watercolor/acrylic artist who specializes in painting florals and illustrations.

Ramanathan is known for her unique greeting cards, floral-themed home décor, and other art products sold in multiple stores, reflecting her signature style. Also a passionate teacher, she will share insights about her artistic practice and creative process during her presentation.  more

“CARVERSVILLE SETTLE”: This painting by James Feehan is featured at HoBART 2023, “Art in the Native Landscape,” on view September 23, 24, 30 and October 1 at Steinbeiser’s Farm in Frenchtown.

HoBART 2023, “Art in the Native Landscape,” will take place on September 23, 24, 30, and October 1at Steinbeiser’s Farm, 718 County Road 519, Frenchtown, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. more

“ROBESON BEFRIENDS EINSTEIN”: One of the panels from “Albert Einstein: Champion of Racial Justice and Equality,” on view at the West Windsor Library through September 28. The exhibit will go on the road through mid-2024.

Following its launch at the Princeton Public Library this summer, “Albert Einstein: Champion of Racial Justice and Equality” is going on the road through mid-2024.

The exhibit is a joint project between the nascent Princeton Einstein Museum of Science (PEMS) and the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society (WJHCS) and details Albert Einstein’s relationships with local African American residents and many of the most prominent Black leaders of the mid-20th century.  more

“THE PHILLIPS’ MILL PARTY CAT”: Pamela Miller created the Signature Image for the “94th Juried Art Show,” on view September 23 through October 29 at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

Autumn officially arrives in Bucks County, Pa., with the “94th Juried Art Show” at Phillips’ Mill, opening September 23 and running through October 29. The art show continues the traditions of its founders with an array of fine art created by over 350 regional artists and showcased at the historic Mill.

Nestled along River Road, in New Hope, Pa., the gallery at Phillips’ Mill will be open daily from 1 to 5 p.m. The show will also be available for viewing and purchases online 24/7. Artists Syd Carpenter, Al Gury, Jill Rupinski, Lauren Sandler, and TK Smith lent their expertise to jury the more than 600 framed, sculpture, and unframed portfolio submissions received this year.  more

September 13, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

You can see it isn’t easy to get on with me. But don’t lose heart because of that.

—Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

Harvey Sachs begins and ends Schoenberg: Why He Matters (Liveright 2023) with those words from an August 30, 1923 letter the composer sent to “a new acquaintance.” The statement’s simplicity is reflected in the way Sachs demonstrates why an artist as notoriously difficult as Schoenberg is worth “getting on with.”

The “difficulty” is addressed in Schoenberg’s Wikipedia page under the heading “Twelve-tone and tonal works,” which begins by noting that he once compared his discovery of a new compositional method to Albert Einstein’s discoveries in physics. The language from Ethan Haimo’s 1990 book Schoenberg’s Serial Odyssey: The Evolution of his Twelve-Tone Method, 1914–1928 is nothing if not daunting, difficult, and discouraging (try getting on with “hexachordal inversional combinatoriality” or “isomorphic partitioning”), especially compared to the composer’s own simply, vividly worded “painting without architecture … an ever-changing, unbroken succession of colors, rhythms and moods.”  more

BALANCHINE FESTIVAL: George Balanchine’s “Serenade” is among the ballets to be performed by the New York City Ballet September 18-October 1 at the David H. Koch Theatre in New York’s Lincoln Center, as part of a tribute to the late choreographer, who co-founded the company 75 years ago. (Photo by Erin Baiano)

New York City Ballet opens its 75th anniversary season Tuesday, September 19 with seven performances of George Balanchine’s Jewels, considered the first three-act, abstract ballet ever created. Following that week, the season continues with an exploration of works by Balanchine, which are the foundation of the company’s repertory. more

CAROLE KING’S STORY: Jennifer Fischer of Hamilton as Carole King in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, running September 22 to October 1 at the Kelsey Theatre on Mercer County Community College’s West Windsor campus.

Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre and Playful Theatre Productions will be kicking off the 2023-24 season with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, September 22 to October 1. more

“PARSONAGE BARN”: This painting by Donna Senopoulos of Plainsboro is part of Watercolorists Unlimited’s annual Fall Art Show and Sale, to be held on Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Parsonage Barn in Cranbury.

Watercolorists Unlimited will host their annual Fall Art Show and Sale on Saturday, September 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic Parsonage Barn at 3 Cranbury Neck Road, one block away from Main Street in Cranbury. Original paintings from 11 local watercolor artists will be available for purchase, selling at price points from $35 to $500. Both framed and unframed, many paintings feature the barns on this property and local scenery, along with florals, still life, and landscapes of various locations and seasons. A portion of the proceeds helps support the Parsonage Barn. more

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: The Princeton Makes artist cooperative, which features 37 artists from the greater Princeton area, will host a second anniversary celebration on September 16 and 17 at its studio space in the Princeton Shopping Center.

Princeton Makes, the artist cooperative in the Princeton Shopping Center, will mark its two-year anniversary throughout the day on Saturday, September 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. with an Art Celebration open to the public, and their monthly Java Jam on Sunday, September 17 at 4 p.m., featuring The Woe Nellies.  more

FALL ART CLASSES: Ceramic Sculpture is one of the many fall art classes and workshops for adults, teens, and children offered by The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. Select classes will be offered in a virtual or a hybrid format.

Registration is underway for The Center for Contemporary Art’s (The Center) fall art classes and workshops for adults, teens and children. Select classes will be offered in a virtual or a hybrid format. Classes and workshops are offered for artists with all levels of expertise in a variety of media including oil and acrylic paint, pastel, watercolor, drawing, ceramics, and more.  more

POETRY TALK-GALLERY WALK: D&R Greenway Land Trust will host events on September 21 and 24 related to the Garden State Watercolor Society’s 53rd Annual Open Juried Exhibition, “Migration: Movement for Survival,” on view through September 24.

Garden State Watercolor Society’s (GSWS) 53rd Annual Open Juried Exhibition, “Migration: Movement for Survival,” continues at D&R Greenway Land Trust through September 24. For the exhibition, GSWS artists created their art to contemplate migration and change — a growing phenomenon in today’s world. Whether figurative or abstract, realistic or fanciful, the art will inspire viewers to think and reflect on the state of the world’s people, wildlife, and climate.

The exhibition is also online at  more

LOVE THOSE APPLES: The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has launched a #JerseyFreshApples social media photo contest, with entries accepted through October 31.

New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joe Atchison III has announced the launch of the #JerseyFreshApples social media photo contest. Jersey Fresh fans can now share photos of Jersey Fresh apples and mention the orchard where they were picked with the hashtag #JerseyFreshApples. more

September 6, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

Now I will do nothing but listen,
To accrue what I hear into this song….

—Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

It’s broad daylight, I’m driving in rush hour traffic, and my eyes are tearing up because of a song called “Sleeping” from the Band’s third album, Stage Fright (1970). In his liner notes, Rob Bowman calls it “a gorgeous ballad” that Richard Manuel co-wrote with Robbie Robertson. But “gorgeous” doesn’t do it justice, nor does PopShifter’s Paul Casey when he calls it a “desperately sad song,” Manuel’s goodbye to the Band “and Robbie’s goodbye to his friend,” who died in Florida 16 years later by his own hand. Casey finds it “hard to separate Richard’s bad end from the songs he worked on,” and this one “was the end of the line, and addresses the oncoming void openly.”

That dark reading misses the emotional and poetical magnitude of the song. My excuse for turning to Walt Whitman at this point is that while reading Leaves of Grass and listening to Stage Fright late the other night, I sensed that Walt must have had “Sleeping” in mind when writing section 26 from Song of Myself, with its reference to the violoncello as “the young man’s heart’s complaint” and to the way the “key’d cornet … shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast” while the orchestra “wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possessed them.”


On Friday, September 15 at 8 p.m., the Princeton Folk Music Society presents Castlebay, its first concert of the 2023-24 season. Live at Christ Congregation Church and also livestreamed, the duo of Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee weave together the music of New England and the Celtic lands on Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, and tin whistle. The church is at 50 Walnut Lane. Tickets are $5-$25. Masks are required. Visit for more information. (Photo courtesy of Castlebay@Castlebay)

That’s what Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood do in “Scared Scriptless,” coming to the State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, on Saturday, September 16 at 8 p.m. The duo team has been a success on Comedy Central and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and they include a lot of audience participation in their show. For more information and tickets, visit

George Street Playhouse of New Brunswick has announced its schedule for the 2023-2024 season. The theater is located at 9 Livingston Avenue.

First up is The Pianist, which has been directed and adapted for the stage by Emily Mann. It is based on the book The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman and has an original score by Iris Hand. Dates are September 26-October 22.

Mann’s play Having Our Say, which is directed by Laiona Michelle, is on stage from November 28-December 17. Next is Ibsen’s Ghost, by Charles Busch, directed by Carl Andress, January 16-February 4. The Club by Chris Bohjalian and directed by David Saint, runs February 27-March 17. The season concludes with Tick, Tick Boom!, April 23-May 19. Book, music, and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson.

For tickets and specific dates, visit

“GOT WATER”: This photograph by Dennis Davis is featured in “Our Knowledge is Power: The Cultures of Beauty and Survival in Isle de Jean Charles, LA and Shishmaref, AK,” his joint exhibition with Chantel Comardelle, on view at the Arts Council of Princeton September 9 through September 30. An opening reception is on Saturday, September 9 from 3-5 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will present “Our Knowledge is Power: The Cultures of Beauty and Survival in Isle de Jean Charles, LA and Shishmaref, AK,” an exhibition of powerful photography by Chantel Comardelle and Dennis Davis, September 9 through September 30 in the Taplin Gallery. An opening reception is on Saturday, September 9 from 3-5 p.m.

On Friday, September 22 from 4-7 p.m., the ACP and Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute will host Comardelle and Davis in person for an artist talk in the Taplin Gallery. The evening will include a film screening of Preserving our Place: Our Knowledge is Power, a 13-minute film — directed by Jeremy Lavoi and produced by Comardelle, Davis, and Elizabeth Marino — sponsored by NSF Award #1929145: Adaptations to Repetitive Flooding: Understanding Cross Cultural and Legal Possibilities for Long Term Flooding Risks.


“MINDSCAPES UNVEILED”: Shown is one of the 3D printed prescription bottle hybrid forms that will be featured in Chanika Svetvilas’ exhibition at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University September 8-28. (Courtesy of Chanika Svetvilas)

Princeton’s Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts will present “Mindscapes Unveiled,” an exhibition by the Lab’s 2022-23 Artist-in-Residence Chanika Svetvilas. The exhibition is a culmination of Svetvilas’ year-long project, “Anonymous Was the Data,” which uplifts the individual lived experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have a mental health difference or condition through mapping their survey data about health care access and stigma.

The work will be on view September 8 through 28 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A talk with the artist and opening reception will be held September 14 with a virtual panel discussion on September 21. The exhibition centers accessibility and a range of access services will be provided. All events are free and open to the public.  more

“FOX ON CROSSWICKS CREEK”: This painting by Margaret Simpson is part of “Water, Woods, and Wonder,” on view at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury through September 28. An opening reception is on September 17 from 1-3 p.m.

Gourgaud Gallery, located in Cranbury Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury, presents “Water, Woods, and Wonder” by local artist Margaret Simpson through September 28. An opening reception is on Sunday, September 17 from 1-3 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Simpson is an award-winning artist who exhibits at local venues from Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa., to D&R Greenway in Princeton, and south to the Jersey shore. She teaches Art of Watercolors weekly at the West Windsor Senior Center. In addition, she has led several “Art in the Marsh” sessions for Friends for the Abbott Marshlands and serves on their executive board.


August 30, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

To muse for long unwearied hours with my attention riveted to some frivolous device upon the margin, or in the typography of a book…

—Edgar Allan Poe, from “Berenice”

I love Poe. He’s always there, the shadowy Kilroy of American literature. Last week my attention was “riveted” by the chapter subheaded “Berenice the Barefoot Queen: Revolution” in Jerusalem: The Biography (Knopf 2011). Holding Simon Sebag Montefiore’s 650-page historical epic open in both hands like a gigantic hymnal, I read the first two sentences of the chapter on the Death of Jerusalem AD 66-70, in which barefoot Berenice walked “the same route Jesus would have taken from Herod Antipas back to Pilate thirty years earlier. The beautiful Berenice — daughter and sister of kings and twice a queen — was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to thank God for her recovery from an illness, fasting for thirty days and shaving her head.” In the next chapter, she’s become the “Jewish Cleopatra,” of whom it was said that Titus “had a general murdered for flirting with her.”

According to an online National Library of Israel article titled “The Queen Who Loved the Destroyer of the Second Temple,” Berenice’s pilgrimage had a nobler goal, which was to plead with Florus, the procurator of Judea, for “the lives of the city’s residents.” The article about “a Jewish woman, a queen” whose “dramatic life story might resemble something out of Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon” is accompanied by Queen Berenice, a painting by Charles Landelle (1821-1908). more