May 1, 2024

“THE POND”: This oil on board work by TingTing Hsu is featured in “Habitats,” her joint exhibition with Mark Oliver, on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville May 9 through June 2.

Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville will present “Habitats,” featuring new gallery members TingTing Hsu and Mark Oliver, May 9 through June 2. The exhibit showcases natural and man-made habitats in the oil paintings of Princeton-based Hsu and the watercolors of Lambertville-based Oliver. An opening reception is on Saturday, May 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Hsu’s use of vibrant colors and intricate textures evoke a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Hsu is the 2023 winner of the Jack Staub award at Phillips’ Mill. For more about Hsu’s work, visit  more

“SEAWALL, CLEARING AFTER RAIN”: This oil on linen work is featured in “Christine Lafuente: The Air Between,” on view May 4-31 at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. A reception is on May 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Morpeth Contemporary presents new work by Christine Lafuente, an artist inspired by the beauty of nature, in “Christine Lafuente: The Air Between,” on view May 4-31 at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. A reception is on Saturday, May 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Be it outdoors in Maine or in her Brooklyn studio, the same questions inform her paintings: How does fog reduce color? How does the sun at once create and break down forms? How does mist accentuate light? How do flowers offer such saturated color?   more

INNOVATIVE ART: A special exhibition on view recently at the Arts Council of Princeton highlighted projects by young students from Johnson Park Elementary School who completed the Olivia & Leslie Foundation’s innovative Arts + Math Program.

More than 60 parents, children, and educators celebrated a special exhibit at the Arts Council of Princeton recently that showcased projects by young students who completed the Olivia & Leslie Foundation’s innovative Arts + Math Program.

The twice-a-week afterschool program, which took place at Johnson Park Elementary School, is designed to foster critical thinking, cognitive skills, and social-emotional development in kindergarten and first-grade students through visual arts education. more

April 24, 2024

Princeton Record Exchange was one of thousands of independent record stores around the world to celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 20. Fans of the iconic store known as PREX turned out to browse and buy from the slate of titles, many of which have limited production runs. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

By Stuart Mitchner

Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey (HarperCollins 2004) was the year’s number one fiction best-seller when it was published in 1927; it also received the 1928 Pulitzer Prize and is still in print, reportedly selling seven thousand copies worldwide every year. So how is it that in my long life as a reader I ignored it until April 17 of last week, Wilder’s 127th birthday? There may be a clue in the wording of the New York Times December 8, 1975 obituary: “Aloof from the 20th century’s preoccupation with politics, psychology and sex,” Wilder “concentrated in his novels and plays on what he construed as the universal verities in human nature. He seemed to be examining mankind from an Olympian platform.”

In his foreword to the 2004 edition, novelist Russell Banks, who died in January 2023, says that Wilder’s novel is “as close to perfect a moral fable as we are ever likely to get in American literature.” The book “feels, in its exquisite universality and ease of timeless application, ancient, classical, almost biblical.” Probably aware of the “aloofness” issue, Banks admits that while “in certain ways, the prose seems antique,” it’s “not in the least antiquated,” the “sentences are elegant, but never self-admiring, exquisitely balanced, yet not overformal, and complex without being elaborate.” Banks’s way of bringing the novel into contemporary America, circa 2004, is to suggest an analogy between the fictional fall of the bridge that “precipitated five travelers into the gulf below” on July 20, 1714 and the terrorist attack that killed thousands when it brought down the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. more

By Nancy Plum

The period in England between 17th-century composer Henry Purcell and the early 20th century was bleak for native composers. Ralph Vaughan Williams began putting British composition back on the map in the late 19th century, soon joined by Sir Edward Elgar, who had been knocking at the door of recognition for quite a while before the premiere of his epic choral/orchestral The Dream of Gerontius. Taking the practice of incorporating chorus into symphonic works to a new level, Elgar’s Gerontius traces the journey of the title character from deathbed to judgement before God. The Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club joined forces this past weekend to present this monumental work at Richardson Auditorium. A combined Walter L. Nollner and Stuart B. Mindlin memorial concert, this performance also acknowledged graduating seniors of both ensembles, sending them off into the world celebrating a musical achievement and contemplating the cycle of life questions Elgar raised.  more

RENAISSANCE MEN: These Juilliard graduates mentored by Itzhak Perlman make up the Renaissance Quartet, on stage at McCarter Theatre in November.

McCarter Theatre Center’s 2024-2025 Classical Music Series, starting in November, will feature the Renaissance Quartet with Randall Goosby, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performing Bach’s The Brandenburg Concertos, Grammy award-winning chamber choir The Crossing, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and Julia Fischer & Jan Lisieki.  more

Alison Bolshoi

Now in its 35th season, Boheme Opera NJ is celebrating by bringing together stars of the company’s past and future for its 35th Anniversary Reunion Concert. The event is May 5 at 3 p.m. at Hillman Performance Hall on the Princeton Campus of Westminster Choir College.

“In 1989, Boheme Opera NJ realized the dream of bringing world-class opera to the regional stage. Thirty-five years later, we are thrilled to celebrate our milestone achievement with some of the outstanding artists who continue to make our mission a reality,” said Artistic Director Joseph Pucciatti.

Pianist Sandra M. Pucciatti, Boheme Opera’s managing director; and Doug Han, the company’s principal rehearsal pianist, will be the accompanists for the event’s vocal performers.  more

SING OUT: Westminster Choir of Rider University is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a new recording on the GIA Masterworks label.

Serenity of Soul, a new recording by the Westminster Choir that celebrates its 100th year, will be released on May 3 on the GIA Masterworks label. The recording marks the recording debut of GRAMMY-nominated James Jordan as conductor of the choir, the seventh since the group’s founding in 1920 by John Finley Williamson.

The centerpiece of Serenity of Soul is the cantata Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten, based on the poetry of Christopher Smart. It was recorded in Gill Memorial Chapel on Rider’s campus in Lawrenceville and Christ Church in New York City between May 4 and 11, 2023. Comprising 15 tracks, it features Gregory Stout on piano and Mary Dolch on organ. more

WATCH OUT FOR THE PLASTICS: The hit Broadway musical comedy “Mean Girls” will be at State Theatre New Jersey on May 11 and 12.

State Theatre New Jersey presents Mean Girls, the new musical comedy adapted from the Paramount Pictures film, on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$105.

Direct from Broadway, Mean Girls is the hilarious hit musical from an award-winning creative team, including book writer Tina Fey (30 Rock), composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), and director Casey Nicholas (The Book of Mormon). more

BACK ON THE SCHEDULE: The Doric String Quartet is coming to Richardson Auditorium following a previously booked concert that was cancelled due to the pandemic. (Photo by George Garnier)

After a pandemic-related cancellation, the U.K.-based Doric String Quartet at last makes its Princeton University Concerts (PUC) debut on Thursday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. Their program includes Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2, Franz Schubert String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887, and Brett Dean String Quartet No. 3 Hidden Agendas, a work written for the Doric String Quartet and inspired as a response to today’s political climate.

The composer first began collaborating with the Doric String Quartet in 2007, when he heard them play his composition Eclipse at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. more

Sara David Buechner
(Photo by Yukiko Onley)

Sara David Buechner joins the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) for performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 the weekend of May 11-12. Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the program which includes John Luther Adams’ Become River and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120.

The concerts take place on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 at 4 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University. The Sunday performance will be preceded by a 3 p.m. pre-concert talk hosted by Milanov, which will include Ms. Buechner, and augment a Mother’s Day outing to the concert hall.

Buechner recently performed with Milanov with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, of which Milanov is music director. “Patrons will be riveted by Sara’s technical expertise and exceptional artistry prominently on display in performance of this first concerto by Beethoven,” he said. more

“CELL”: The Arts Council of Princeton will show mixed media works by Heather Cox as part of “Making Do,” a group show excavating the beauty of everyday objects. The exhibition will be on view April 27 through May 24, with a gallery opening on May 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will show “Making Do,” an exhibition of mixed media work, in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery April 27 through May 24. A free gallery opening will be held on Friday, May 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. This group show features the work of Karla Carballar, Heather Cox, Shannon Curry Hartmann, Mollie Murphy, Rachel Perry, and Emna Zghal.

To “make do” is an idiom. Grammatically, it is a phrase. It means to work with what one has on hand or to persevere through difficult circumstances. Each artist in this show makes work that exemplifies this term. Some of the group has always worked in this way: gleaning the metaphor from the world, finding meaning in everyday objects, and excavating the strange beauty they perceive in the cast-offs in the street, field, and forage. Others found their way to this kind of work during the pandemic: forced into isolation, they questioned, examined, played with, and discovered new and fruitful ways of working. more

“GORILLA JABARI”: This image by Mathew Renk is part of a photography exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC), on view May 6 through May 31 at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury. 

The Gourgaud Gallery will host a photography exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC) May 6 through May 31.

The show will feature original, framed photographs of various subjects and sizes taken by club members. Most photographs will be for sale at prices ranging from $75 to $350, with 20 percent of all sales benefiting the Cranbury Arts Council.  more

HUES AND HAPPINESS: The Hopewell Valley Arts Council’s Color Fun Run + Walk, which culminates with a group color toss, is on Saturday, May 4 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Woolsey Park in Hopewell Township. (Photo by Benoit Cortet)

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council has announced the return of the Color Fun Run + Walk on Saturday, May 4 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Woolsey Park at the new Hopewell Township bandshell. This event promises an explosion of color and joy, catering to everyone from avid runners to leisurely strollers, all in support of the arts in Hopewell Valley.

There will be non-stop entertainment, including a dynamic dance party with music and warm-up sessions led by Angela, the hula hoop virtuoso from Color Me Hoopy. Participants will experience waves of color as they navigate the course, becoming living art pieces. The event culminates with a group color toss, a celebration of hues and happiness.  more

Works by Spriha Gupta are featured in “2nd Life: Rediscovering Nature’s Canvas,” on view at Artworks Trenton, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, through May 24. An Artist Talk is on April 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. For more about the artist, visit

April 17, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

I was a wing in heaven blue … I was a vision in another eye …

—Patti Smith, from “Wing”

Midway through National Poetry Month, I found a poem Patti Smith sang for Haruki Murakami after presenting him with a literary prize in Berlin 10 years ago. The song ends “And if there’s one thing … Could do for you … You’d be a wing … In heaven blue.” In her memoir M Train (2015), Smith calls Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Knopf 1997) a “devastating” masterpiece that she immediately wanted to reread because she “did not wish to exit its atmosphere.” She was haunted by “the ghost of a phrase” that had to do with “the fate of a certain property” in the opening chapter.

Having just finished Murakami’s epic of wonders and horrors, I’ve also been haunted by the beginning, where the narrator, Toru Okada, is searching for his lost cat and ends up, in Smith’s words, “at an abandoned house on an overgrown lot with a paltry bird sculpture and an obsolescent well.” What particularly intrigued me was Okada’s reference to “the mechanical cry of a bird that sounded as if it were winding a spring. We called it the wind-up bird” although “we didn’t know what it was really called or what it looked like, but that didn’t bother the wind-up bird. Every day it would come to the stand of trees in our neighborhood and wind the spring of our quiet little world.” That last sentence winds the spring of the book.  more

WHODUNIT?: The murder mystery comedy “Clue” will be at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on April 27 and 28. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

State Theatre New Jersey presents Clue, the murder mystery comedy, for four performances on Saturday, April 27 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 28 at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$105. more

DRAMA ABOUT FRIENDSHIP: Tabla player Salar Nader, in foreground, stars in “The Kite Runner,” a play based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, coming to the State Theatre New Jersey May 3 and 4.

State Theatre New Jersey presents The Kite Runner, a play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s internationally best-selling novel for two performances on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. Salar Nader, the renowned musician who starred in the Broadway production, will reprise his role as tabla player for the tour. Tickets range from $70-$105.

The play tells a tale of friendship spanning cultures and continents, following one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. Afghanistan is a divided country, and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither of the boys can foresee the incident which will change their lives forever.  more

REX MANNING DAY: McCarter Theatre Center and the Princeton Garden Theatre presented a free community screening of the cult classic film “Empire Records” in preparation for the play of the same name, making its world premiere at McCarter in the fall. (Photo by Roy Matusek)

On April 8, Princeton celebrated the uniquely 90’s holiday known as Rex Manning Day, inspired by the cult-classic film Empire Records, at the Princeton Garden Theatre. The event was a collaboration with McCarter Theatre Center, which will present the world premiere of a play of the same name in the fall.

The special event celebrated the movie’s enduring legacy and community of fans it has forged. A free screening of the film, which chronicles a day in the life of a record store facing corporate takeover, was shown, followed by a post-show Q&A with Carol Heikkinen, the original film’s writer and now the visionary behind the book for the upcoming musical comedy adaptation, Empire Records.  more

Princeton Youth Ballet (PYB) will present The Secret Garden at 4 p.m. on May 11 and May 12 at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, 16 Walnut Lane. PYB’s full-length production, based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells the story of a young girl’s journey through loss, renewal, and growth, and features choreography by Risa Kaplowitz, staging and additional choreography by Talin Kenar, and projection backdrops by David Haneman. Running time is approximately 95 minutes. This performance is appropriate for audience members ages 4 and older. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the performance, and are available

LOCAL MUSICIANS: Presenting a benefit concert on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. at Princeton United Methodist Church are, from left, Julia Hanna, Paul Manulik, and Scott Collins. Not pictured, Steven Hanna.

Rarely played music will be featured at a benefit concert for Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m., followed by a reception. All are welcome, and no tickets are required; a free-will offering will benefit the church. The musicians are Julia Hanna, piano; Scott Collins, clarinet; Steven Hanna, clarinet; and Paul Manulik, viola.

The concert will include works by Bach, Bolcom, Horovitz, and Zinzadse, closing with “The Meeting,” a technical tour-de-force for two clarinets by A. Ponchielli, a 19th century Italian composer. “It is rarely performed, and we are excited to share it with everyone,” said Collins. more

JOINING FORCES: Hopewell Tour Des Arts, marking its 17th anniversary, has partnered with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council as it prepares for its May fundraiser and fall event.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of Hopewell Tour Des Arts, the annual event that opens the doors of local artists’ studios and pop-up art spaces to the public. This curated tour showcases new and innovative work from talented artists in the Hopewell area and is free to the public. In conjunction with celebrating this milestone, the Tour announces a new partnership with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and gears up for its May fundraiser.

Starting with Highland Design Farm’s transformation over 50 years ago from multi-floored chicken coops to vibrant artist studios, Hopewell Tour Des Arts was conceptualized by Sean Mannix, Beth Judge, and Ruth Morpeth 18 years ago. Their vision was to unify the artist community and foster a culture of creativity and engagement. more

“AT HOME”: This work by Karen Hodell is part of the annual “Visual Arts Student Exhibition,” on view at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor through May 6.

Creativity abounds at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) as art students showcase their talents during the annual “Visual Arts Student Exhibition” through May 6. The show is free and open to the public.

Encouraged to use their imagination and be their authentic selves when looking for inspiration for their work, 40-plus students submitted pieces including fine arts, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and drawing, resulting in a display of 73 unique works of art. Gallery Assistant Karolina Zbaski noted that the gallery staff designed the exhibit around the students’ submissions, hence letting their work speak for itself.  more

“PARADISE”: This work by Maria Dreyer is featured in the Phillips’ Mill Photo Committee’s “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” on view April 21-28 at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

April began a twofold celebration of fine art photography at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa., with the opening of the 31st annual Juried “Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition.” The Mill Photo Committee’s “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” which opens on Sunday, April 21, marks the photo finish this month.

The “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” like the juried exhibit at the start of April, will fill both levels of the Mill, upstairs and down, with high-quality works of photographic art on the walls, as well as dozens of matted prints in the portfolio bins. In this second show, however, all artists are members of the volunteer Phillips’ Mill Photo Committee that is responsible for organizing both shows. more