November 9, 2022

Westminster Conservatory of Music’s November 18 gala benefit concert in Hillman Hall, on the campus at 101 Walnut Lane, will include performances on violin, piano, guitar, recorder, and flute; a vocal quartet singing French Renaissance songs; and more. From left are Conservatory faculty members Patricia Landy and Kevin Willois; and student performers Averie Wu, Matthew Keng, Tegan Costello, Jeffrey Han, Alyssa Xu, Maya Borisov, Julianna Wong, and Frederick Chang (seated). The concert is at 7 p.m. Visit rider.edu/Westminster-conservatory for more information.

“SELF PORTRAIT”: Works by Walé Oyéjidé’ are featured in “Flight of the Dreamer,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., through April 23, 2023. The exhibit offers a social-justice-centered vision in response to the Michener’s history as a former prison.

The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “Walé Oyéjidé: Flight of the Dreamer,” on view through April 23, 2023.

Pairing original writings published by previous Bucks County prison inmates with selections from renowned Nigerian American artist Walé Oyéjidé’s existing body of work, “Flight of the Dreamer” offers a social-justice-centered vision in response to the Michener’s history as a former prison.

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SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: Screen-printed decor and apparel by Yardsale Press, ceramics by Black Lab Ceramics, and jewelry by BLK Confetti will be among the offerings at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market on Saturday, November 12 in downtown Princeton.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents its Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market on Saturday, November 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Downtown Princeton.

Now celebrating its 28th year, this one-day market is an established destination for unique, high-quality handmade gifts. Shop from more than 55 local and regional vendors working in home decor, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, wood, apparel, and more.

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“HARRIET’S GAZE IV”: This work is featured in “Misogyny Papers/Apology: Victor Davson,” on view through December 9 at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster.

The Center for Contemporary Art (“The Center”) in Bedminster presents two new fall exhibitions on view through December 9.

“Beneath the Surface” is a juried exhibition of the Northeast Feltmakers Guild. The Northeast Feltmakers Guild was founded in March 2002 as a way of bringing together the many talented felt artists throughout the United States, primarily in the Northeast. The Guild’s goals are to promote felted fiber art, increase awareness of the feltmaking process, and offer a forum for feltmakers where information can be shared regarding techniques, material resources, critiques, and marketing. The jurors for “Beneath the Surface,” Wes Sherman and Patricia Spark, selected 54 works representing the work of 36 artists.

Exhibiting artists include Sibel Adali, Leslie Alexander, Colette Ballew, LadyK Bennett, Marsha Biderman, Robin Blakney-Carlson, Josephine Dakers-Brathwaite, Judith Daniels, Linda Doucette, Lyn Falcone, Susan Getchell, Rae Gold, Carol Ingram, Kerstin Katko, Denise Kooperman, Helene Kusnitz, Cathy Lovell, Rachel Montroy, Charlotte Moore, Irina Moroz, Malgorzata Mosiek, Joy Muller-McCoola, Sara Pearsall, Debbie Penley, Stacey Piwinski, Etta Rosen, Barbara Ryan, Cathy Schalk, Tshen Shue, Ellen Silberlicht, Catherine Stebinger, Dayna Talbot, Linda Tomkow, Christine Vogensen, Nancy Winegard, and Miriam Young.

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“BOTANICAL FORM”: This glazed earthenware work by James Jansma is featured in “Two Craftsmen: Andrew Franz | Furniture + James Jansma | Ceramic Vessels,” on view through November 19 at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. A Meet the Artists event is on November 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Morpeth Contemporary presents the work of two local craftsmen affiliated with both Princeton Day School and Princeton University. “Two Craftsmen: Andrew Franz | Furniture + James Jansma | Ceramic Vessels” is on view through November 19 at the gallery at 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell. A Meet the Artists event is on Saturday, November 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.

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“NOBORIGAMA KILN FIRING”: Of this panoramic work, Ricardo Barros said, “I photographed these artisans stoking their wood-fired kiln over two days. They were not all present at once. It rained in part of the picture, night fell, and the intensity of their focus was palpable throughout.” Barros’ 360-degree panoramas are featured in “An Entanglement of Time and Space,” on view at the Friend Center for Engineering Education at Princeton University through December 31.

Photographer Ricardo Barros’ 360-degree panoramas are the latest installment in Princeton University’s “Art of Science” exhibition program. Barros’ photographs challenge our expectations of story and stage. Rather than present discrete events separately, in sequence, and with a natural field of view, here we see everything … all at once. Hence this show’s title: “An Entanglement of Time and Space.”

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“A MYSTERY”: This painting by Jane Adriance is part of “Painting the Light,” her dual show with Debbie Pisacreta, on view November 10 through December 4 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on November 12 from 4-7 p.m.

Artists Jane Adriance and Debbie Pisacreta will exhibit paintings in an art exhibition entitled “Painting the Light,” on view November 10 through December 4 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 12 from 4-7 p.m.

The exhibit explores the quality of light in both abstract and representational paintings. Adriance continues her journey to create juxtapositions of different visual observations with light and color.

“Light determines the color, composition, and the story being told,” said Adriance. “I have combined representative and abstract elements in the same context as well as pure abstractions in oils and mixed media. At times I think this becomes a sensual journey of mystery. Hopefully the observer will find a springboard to fantasy as well as aesthetic pleasure.”

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Two artists will be painting a live model in a “Dynamic Duo Demo” at Highlands Art Gallery, 41 North Union Street, Lambertville on November 12 from 5-8 p.m. during Lambertville’s Second Saturday event.

Master artist Kenn Erroll Backhaus has many years of painting experience. His artistic skill has been recognized by attaining a master status in the Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionist Society. Erroll is also a signature member of the California Art Club and a signature member and past president of Plein Air Painters of America (the oldest plein air organization in the country.) Erroll has given back to the artistic community by teaching workshops and online instruction. Because of his expertise in the field, he is often asked to judge and jury national and regional art shows.

Emerging artist May Zheng began attending the Art Academy of Hillsborough with illustrator and portrait artist Kevin Murphy at the age of 12. Zheng became an apprentice of Murphy’s and began intensive study with him in the oil medium when she was 16. Her first book cover was published by kOZMIC Press in September 2021, for The Mad King by Rebekay Mabry. Zheng was recently recognized by the Art Renewal Center as a finalist in the Imaginative Realism and Portraiture categories for professional artists in the ARC International Salon competition. The winners will be announced on January 2, 2023.

For more information, visit highlandsartgallery.com or email info@highlandsartgallery.com.

November 2, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabelle Lee

—Edgar Allan Poe

Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had…

—Stevie Nicks, from “Dreams”

Asked in a publisher’s Q&A what inspired him to write Mirror in the Sky: The Life and Music of Stevie Nicks (University of California Press 2022), Princeton professor Simon Morrison, a scholar of Russian music and dance, says he got the idea about six years ago while talking with people who love her song “Dreams” — “just because they do, without needing or wanting to explain the love.” Morrison says that while he feels the same way, writing about the song and the singer “meant thinking about that love” rather than “leaving it be.” His plan was to write about Nicks by “exploring her creativity and immense power as a performer” while “focusing on her process, her sources of inspiration, and the bond she has created with her audience as a truth-teller.”

“Poe, Edgar Allan”

The Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor briefly channels “Dreams” in her memoir Rememberings (2021), writing, “I’m like Stevie Nicks. She keeps her visions to herself.” After reading O’Connor’s response to the death of Elvis Presley in 1977 (she was 11: “I need a new father now that Elvis is gone”), I searched for Presley in the index to Mirror in the Sky, where I found “Poe, Edgar Allan” and discovered that when Nicks’s Senior English teacher at Menlo-Atherton High asked the class to analyze Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” Stevie turned the poem into a song that she, in Morrison’s words, “held close for decades,” finally recording it “once she had exorcised the demons of the past, the bad loves, the toxic habits.” Composed when Nicks was 17, “Annabelle Lee” rises gloriously from the undead almost half a century later in her solo album In Your Dreams (2011).

Having heard the wonders Nicks and producer Dave Stewart achieve in “Annabel Lee,” — Morrison quotes Stewart on “Stevie’s obsession” with Poe — I’d like to think that Vladimir Nabokov’s “Divine Edgar” would be entranced by Nicks’s rapturous singing and the majestic orchestration. Nabokov shares her obsession with Poe, having based the first incarnation of Lolita on “Annabelle Lee.” As someone who once claimed he was “as American as April in Arizona,” Nabokov would no doubt have been delighted to know that Nicks was born in Phoenix and that as a child paid frequent visits to a grandmother who lived in a town called Ajo. more

A TRIPLE ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND: The 100th anniversary of Theatre Intime, and the 50th anniversary of Princeton Summer Theater (PST), will be honored at a three-day reunion of alumni “Princeton theater-makers.” Both troupes mount their productions at the Hamilton Murray Theater in Murray-Dodge Hall, above, where Theatre Intime has performed since their 1921-1922 season. (Photo by Bill Charrier ‘69. Courtesy of Friends of Intime)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton University’s Theatre Intime was founded by a group of Princeton undergraduates in 1920. The Friends of Theatre Intime had hoped to schedule a centennial celebration for the fall of 2020, but the pandemic halted those plans.

However, after a two-year delay, “A Triple Anniversary Weekend” will be held from November 4-6. This commemorates the centennial of Theatre Intime, the 50th anniversary of Princeton Summer Theater, and the Hamilton Murray Theater’s centennial as a venue. The event’s website describes the celebration as a “reunion of Princeton theater-makers across the years.”

To ensure that the Princeton community can participate, a Community Pass ($50) is available. This pass provides admission to all events except the alumni meals.

A centerpiece of the reunion will be a gala dinner, “Théâtre Intime’s 100th & PST’s 50th Banquet Fete,” at which Winnie Holzman will be the keynote speaker. Among numerous writing credits, Holzman is especially known as the creator of the television series My So-Called Life;  and as the librettist of the musical Wicked. Acting credits include Thirtysomething, Roswell, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

A Hamilton Murray Theater Centennial Film Festival will run throughout the weekend. The anniversary celebration’s website describes the festival as a “mix of full production features and short subjects expressly created for the festival.” The films will “play on big screens on campus throughout the celebration weekend.”

Friday’s events will include a “Welcome & Convocation” at Richardson Hall (this event is free and open to all, though registration is required); an “Intime & PST Archive & Exhibition” at Mudd Library, during which memorabilia such as programs, photos, letters, and newspaper articles will be on display; and an “Alumni Piano Bar,” a cabaret session at which pianists will be available to accompany any participants who would like to sing.

On Saturday there will be “Alumni All-Stars” panel discussions featuring alumni who work in the entertainment industry. The conversations are titled “Storytellers” and “How Theater influenced my (non-theater) career.” The gala dinner, at which Holzman will deliver the keynote address, will take place on Saturday evening. more

RISING DANCE STARS: Meagan King is among the members of Ailey II, coming to State Theatre New Jersey on November 10. (Photo by Nir Arieli)

State Theatre New Jersey presents Ailey II, the 12-member second company of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, to State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, on Thursday, November 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $29-$49.

Ailey II combines a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs. The company continues to expand the bridge from the studio to the stage for talented young performers from The Ailey School under Artistic Director Francesca Harper, who took her first dance steps at the school where her mother was director from 1984-2010.

“I am excited for audiences far and near to experience the power and grace of these 12 superbly gifted dancers in remarkable works by a variety of powerful choreographic voices,” she said. “It’s an honor to lead Ailey II into its next era, keeping Alvin Ailey’s legacy of artistry and generosity moving forward while nurturing the next generation of performing artists on a journey of discovery.”

The program includes works by Yannick Lebrun, William Forsythe, Robert Battle, and Harper.  Visit STNJ.org for tickets.

SIMON’S FIRST COMEDY: The cast of “Come Blow Your Horn,” Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical first play is coming to Kelsey Theatre’s stage on weekends November 4-13.

Yardley Players presents Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical comedy Come Blow Your Horn at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on weekends November 4-13. Kelsey Theatre will be accepting new, unwrapped toy donations in the lobby for the annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots gift drive. 

Come Blow Your Horn opened in 1961 and was a smash hit on Broadway,” said Kitty Getlik, artistic director of Kelsey Theatre. “It is Neil Simon’s first play, and it undeniably sows the seeds for Simon’s genius. The show is absolutely hilarious.”

The play became a hit movie starring Frank Sinatra. 

Shows are Friday, November 4, 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, November 5 and 6, 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12, 8 p.m.; and Sunday, November 13, 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20-$22. Visit KelseyTheatre.org or call (609) 570-3333.

Roberta Maxwell

The Dryden Ensemble opens its new season with “Versailles: Intrigue & Envy.” Performances will take place on Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church Solebury, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pa; and on Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m. at Seminary Chapel, located on the campus of the Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street.

“Versailles: Intrigue & Envy” features actors Roberta Maxwell and Paul Hecht in a dramatic musical entertainment combining music from the court of Louis XIV with readings from the celebrated letters of Madame de Sévigné and from letters and memoirs written by Captain d’Artagnan of the Musketeers, John Evelyn, Voltaire, and others.

The script recounts tales of court intrigues, the original d’Artagnan (captain of the Musketeers), Louis XIV’s persecution of the Protestants, poisonings in Paris, and the invasion of England by William of Orange. The players will perform music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and François Couperin, keyboard solos by Louis Couperin, lute solos by Jacque Gallot and others, and movements from Marin Marais’s Pièces en trio as well as his Suite in B Minor for bass viol, performed by Lisa Terry, a virtuoso player of that instrument.

Maxwell, known to Princeton audiences for the role of Edna in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance at McCarter Theatre, has performed with Ethan Hawke in Chekhov›s Ivanhov at Classic Stage in N.Y., on Broadway in Equus, Othello, Henry V, and The Merchant of Venice, and off-Broadway in Stevie, Ashes (Obie Award), Mary Stuart, A Whistle in the Dark (Obie Award), and many others. more

MAKING A HOMETOWN STOP: Singer/songwriter Avi Wisnia returns to West Windsor Arts for a program of music and story-telling.

West Windsor Arts is welcoming back singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia for a special night of music and storytelling on Saturday, November 5, 7 p.m. at 952 Alexander Road in Princeton Junction.

The concert will be a homecoming for the award-winning musician, who has strong and sentimental ties to the West Windsor community. It was at the art center that Wisnia, whose music is an eclectic blend of 1950s West Coast jazz, acoustic American folk, Brazilian bossa nova, and contemporary piano pop, performed a decade ago upon the release of his debut album, Something New.

Wisnia is returning to West Windsor Arts with an ensemble of musicians to celebrate the release of his new album, Catching Leaves. Produced by bassist/conductor Ken Pendergast, Catching Leaves is a collection of songs about living in the moment and surrendering to forces beyond our control.

“This is a very special concert for so many reasons,” said Aylin Green, executive director of the arts center. We are honored that Avi considers us his hometown venue, and to have the chance to present an evening of music that brings us together and feeds the soul. We all really need that right now.” more

“PLAYTIME”: This oil painting by Mary Lou Thomas is featured in “Art Overlook,” a group exhibition of works by students of Charles David Viera, on view November 7 through December 10 at the Flemington Free Public Library.

The Flemington Free Public Library and Readington Parks and Recreation presents “Art Overlook,” an exhibition featuring art by adult students studying painting with artist Charles David Viera at classes held at the Dobozynski Farm in Readington Township. The exhibition is on view November 7 through December 10, with  an opening reception on November 12 from 12 to 2 p.m.

“I think the public will enjoy this exhibition as it includes many paintings of local landscapes, portraits and a variety subjects interpreted in a number of diverse styles of easel painting,” said Viera. “Most of my students are women and men that are retired from the workforce or balancing jobs and family responsibilities. I think that demographic is a creative source that is sometimes overlooked and this exhibition will shine a spotlight on those artists. Many of the artists exhibiting are cultivating exhibitions in other venues and several were recently represented in exhibitions at the Ellarslie Museum, West Windsor Arts Council, and the Phillips’ Mill.”

Inez Bastido Kline, one of the artists in the exhibition, said, “I love the Dobozynski Farm Park for outdoor painting. No matter where you look there is something interesting to capture from any angle. Indoor painting is also a lot of fun. The still lives and other projects really pushed the envelope for me. I have been a student with Charles for years.“

The Flemington Free Public Library is located at 118 Main Street in Flemington. For more information, visit charlesdavidviera.com or readingtonrecreation.org.

“MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE”: This mixed media collage by Nancie Gunkelman is part of “Escape from Reality,” on view November 5 through December 3 at the Plainsboro Library Gallery.

Artist Nancie Gunkelman describes the work she did during  the pandemic as “bingeing on collage.” Beginning November 5, the gallery at Plainsboro Public Library will exhibit 13 of her colorful mixed media collages in a show entitled “Escape from Reality.” The exhibition will continue through December 24.

The collages are a departure (“escape”) from Gunkelman’s  usual  style. “Normally I paint and draw and most of my work is representational,” she said. The collages,  paper on canvas, are more abstract than representational. Gunkelman describes them as “very imaginative and emotional.”

“Most artists reach a point where they want to refresh whatever they are working on, to change direction and get to another plateau,” she continues.

She promises that the collages, while abstract, contain elements that viewers will recognize. “I don’t want people to be intimidated, but to be open to a gut reaction, to a couple of minutes of visual experience,” she said.

A trained medical illustrator who began her career at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Hospital, Gunkelman  later served in the Peace Corps, designing educational materials for the Medical Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also worked on health education programs for the United Nations and for nonprofit organizations in Jamaica, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Nigeria. more

“BULLET THE BLUE SKY”: Jackie Neale, whose work is shown here, and Mel Evans will be featured at the “Twosday Talks” photography presentation on November 8 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held both in person at Mercer County Community College’s JKC Gallery in Trenton and online via Zoom.

Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus (JKC) Gallery at 137 North Broad Street in Trenton hosts its next “Twosday Talks” photography presentation November 8 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This month will feature works and presentations by artists Mel Evans and Jackie Neale. Talks will take place live and on the Zoom conferencing platform. All are invited to register at jkcgallery.online.

“Twosday Talks” is curated by Heather Palecek and Habiyb Shu’Aib and hosted by Professor Michael Chovan-Dalton, director of JKC Gallery.

Chovan-Dalton said, “This will be our last ‘Twosday Talks’ of the semester and I am pleased to welcome artists Jackie Neale and Mel Evans who will share their works and discuss their personal approaches to artistic expression.”

Neale is a Brooklyn- and Philadelphia-based artist, photographer, imaging specialist, photo director, and producer who is inspired through interpersonal relationships and the barrier that disappears/appears once a camera is introduced to the mix. Also an author, Neale focuses on using historical, traditional, digital and experimental processes for multimedia documentary portrait projects. A professor of photography at Saint Joseph’s University and New York Film Academy in New York City, Neale is known for her work in social activism and chronicling the experience of immigration in the U.S. and Europe. more

“CLIMATE CHANGE LANDSCAPE” This work by Susan Hockaday is featured in “Artists for Ukraine,” a special fundraiser and exhibition on view, along with “Off the Wall Holiday Market,” at West Windsor Arts through January 7.

West Windsor Arts presents the 12th annual “Off the Wall Holiday Market” where you can support local, do good, and have fun while holiday shopping. The show features over 100 works of original art by 47 artists, all priced at $400 or less, and a large selection of handcrafted items made by 11 artisans including jewelry, women’s accessories, ceramics, and one-of-a-kind notecards.

In addition, “Artists for Ukraine,” a special fundraiser and exhibition organized by Madelaine Shellaby and Ilene Dube, will include a group of 12 artists who have chosen to donate 100 percent of their proceeds to raise funds for Ukraine. The artists include Tasha Branham, Anne Elliott, Susan Hockaday, Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick, James Jansma, Shirley Kern, Joy Kreves, Marsha Levin-Rojer, Ryan Lilienthal, Andrew Wilkinson, Emily Vickers, and Shellaby. 

“Off the Wall” artists include Zakia Aziz Ahmed, Meta Dunkly Arnold, Nicky Belletier, Seema Bhattacharjee, Sharri Carlin, Kimberly Ducote-Schimmel, Deborah Eater, Toby Ehrlich, Carlo Fiorentini, Gary David Fournier, Angel Gardner, Noreen Gelling, Lisa Gottesman, Anuradha Gurumurthy, D.J. Haslett, Marzena Haupa, Marina Hill, Audrey Jakab & Alejando Berlin, Abigail Johnson, Margaret Kalvar-Bushnell, Mita Karnik, Naina Bhalla, Shipra Khare, Nelly Kouzmina, Joy Kreves, Renee Kumar, Lori Langsner, Yun Li, Christopher Mac Kinnon, Denise McDaniel, Sujatha Mohan, the-O, Hilary Peirce, Helene Plank, William Plank, Pratibha Raju, Arleen Ramos-Szatmary, Rupa Sanbui, Kirsten Sanford, Monica Sebald Kennedy, Aleksandra Seletskaya, Christine Seo, Kelly Silver, J. Marion Simmons, Margaret Simpson, Sumi, Mary Lou Thomas, and Jane Yuan.

“Off the Wall” artisans include Nomeda Aniukstis — Jademon; Kim Casper and Kristina Chadwick — Kristina’s Handmade Ceramics & Jewelry; Nelly Kouzmina — Feltinelli LLC; Merry Madover Jewelry; Georgina Ramirez Alzaga — Punto y Amor; Discover A New Future by Faith Saunders; Creative Ceramics by Christa Schneider; Leslie Schott — Working Cord Studio; and Merle Slyhoff Pottery. more

October 26, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humour or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances at any subject cross like interarching search-lights.

—Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

I had other plans for this column until I realized that Friday, October 21, was Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 250th birthday. On October 26, 1900, Henry James and Edith Wharton began a correspondence, a “marriage of true minds” that lasted until James’s death (“the distinguished thing”) on February 28, 1916. Having already set things in motion for a piece about Wharton and James, I had to make room — lots of room — for Coleridge.

All it took was a few clicks of the Microsoft mouse to confirm that Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” not only stirred Wharton’s imagination in childhood, but returned full force during her mid-sixties in her account of a young writer’s moment of discovery:

“Oh, what beautiful, what incredible words! What did they mean? But what did it matter what they meant? Or whether they meant anything but their own unutterable music? …. It was a new music, a music utterly unknown to him, but to which the hidden chords of his soul at once vibrated. It was something for him — something that intimately belonged to him …. He sat with his head between his hands, reading on, passionately, absorbedly, his whole being swept away on that mighty current.” 

The passage is from Hudson River Bracketed (1929), in which Wharton’s protagonist writes a novel reimagining the dreamscape of Coleridge’s Xanadu in the Hudson River Valley. I knew the same thrill of discovery the first time I read the poem, in my teens, excited to know more because the vision was unfinished, penned upon Coleridge’s waking from a laudanum dream. Much of the poem’s allure is that he presents it as “A Fragment,” with an introductory paragraph in which “the author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farmhouse between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair.”  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra kicked off the Princeton leg of its 100th anniversary celebratory season this past Friday night with a concert in Richardson Auditorium. Led by Music Director Xian Zhang, the performance featured a rarely-heard 19th-century piano-orchestral work with a pianist who could easily take over the international stage. With a lean and succinct ensemble sound, the Orchestra welcomed fall in Princeton with powerful renditions of the music of Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms.

Zhang and NJSO began the performance with a piece resulting from an unusual commission. American-born composer Dorothy Chang, currently on the faculty of the University of British Columbia, was asked in 2017 to write a segment of a symphonic ballet to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Her one-movement Northern Star became the fourth movement of the ballet but has also been an intriguing orchestral work on its own. 

With Zhang showing her usual dynamic leadership on the podium, NJSO brought out the crisp icy atmosphere of a piece recalling both the northern lights rising and setting over the landscape and a journey from darkness to optimism. Throughout the work, the NJSO players provided both an expansive orchestral palette and whispers of the winds, aided by delicate wind solos from flutist Bart Feller and oboist Alexandra Knoll.

Nineteenth-century German composer Richard Strauss was known more for symphonic tone poems and vocal works than piano repertoire, but his Burleske in D minor for piano and orchestra was clearly in line with the virtuosic piano performance tradition begun by Franz Liszt. Initially conceived as a “Scherzo” for piano and orchestra, Burleske contained in one movement all the passion and drama of a full-length Strauss opera. 

To convey all this emotion, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra invited pianist Michelle Cann to share the stage. Cann has performed with major orchestras nationwide and is a member of the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music and could spend her professional life mesmerizing audiences worldwide just as she did in Princeton. Cann played with great power, and at times it was hard to follow her very fast-moving hands. There were numerous extended passages for solo piano, ranging from elegantly lyrical to ferocious and lightning-quick octaves traveling the length of the keyboard, all of which Cann expertly executed. A playful duet was created between Cann and clarinetist Pascal Archer, with a subsequently elegant duet between Cann’s rolling piano lines answered by the viola section. Timpanist Gregory LaRosa was also key in maintaining rhythmic energy among the short spurts of melodic activity. more

EDGY OPERA ON FILM: “Black Lodge” by David T. Little is one of three productions to be locally screened in coming months.

The Princeton Garden Theatre is among five movie theaters to present screenings of productions by Opera Philadelphia in coming weeks. The operas are Soldier Songs, La voix humaine, and Black Lodge.

David T. Little’s Grammy-nominated Soldier Songs, which screens Saturday, November 12 at 1 p.m. at the Princeton Garden, “weaves opera, rock, and film into a stirring and innovative examination of trauma, exploitation, and the difficulty of expressing war’s painful truths,” according to a press release. It was filmed on location at the Brandywine Conservancy in Chester County, Pa., by the site of a significant Revolutionary War battle of 1777.

The feature film is accompanied by Opera Philadelphia’s 2021 short film TakTakShoo, composer Rene Orth’s fusion of opera and K-pop, marimba, electronics, and dance, that creates an eclectic sound and movement world. With a libretto by playwright Kanika Ambrose, the film stars mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi as an energizing life force inviting people to come into the world anew and is directed by Emmy Award-nominated director and choreographer Jeffrey L. Page.

La voix humaine by Francis Poulenc will be shown Saturday, December 3 at 1 p.m.  more

American Repertory Ballet’s (ARB)magical production of The Nutcracker returns to McCarter Theatre November 25-27; Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton on December 11; and State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick December 16-18.

The Nutcracker ballet is a local and national holiday custom for families and seasoned ballet fans alike. It is no surprise that the charm, excitement, and wonder of the production continues to be a part of our communities’ annual holiday plans and an ideal way to celebrate the season,” said Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel.

For the first time, (ARB) will collaborate with the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey, led by conductor Daniel Spalding. These artists will be joined by the Trenton Children’s Chorus for one performance only at the Patriot’s Theater at the War Memorial.

Five performances at State Theatre New Jersey will feature live music played by the ARB Orchestra, this year led by Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s Assistant Conductor Kenneth Bean, and accompanied by the Princeton Girlchoir. more

BACK ON STAGE: George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick welcomes back audiences with “Her Portmanteau,” a new play by Mfoniso Udofia, running through October 30.

George Street Playhouse (GSP) has opened its 2022-2023 season with Her Portmanteau, a new play by Mfoniso Udofia, directed by Laiona Michelle. The play runs through October 30 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center on Livingston Avenue.

The play touches on universal themes of mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation, and the struggle associated with leaving our countries of origin behind, while still holding on to their rich cultural heritage. 

The cast includes Jennean Farmer, Shannon Harris, and Mattilyn Kravitz.

Visit georgestreetplayhouse.org for ticket information.

MUSIC ONCE BANNED: Violinist Siwoo Kim peforms in the Concordia Chamber Players’ upcoming program of works by composers once persecuted for their religious beliefs or skin color.

On Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m., Concordia Chamber Players’ first regular subscription concert will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road in Solebury, Pa. Tickets are $75.

In this program, entitled “The Degenerates,” they will explore the works of composers categorized as such by the Nazi regime for the color of their skin or their religion. The String Quartet No. 2 of Florence Price will be performed along with String Quartet No. 1 in A Major by Alexander Zemlinsky, and String Quartet No. 1 in E-flat Major by Felix Mendelssohn.

Violist David Samuel of the Alexander String Quartet will have his first performance with Concordia along with Gabriela Diaz and Siwoo Kim on violin, and Michelle Djokic on cello. more

“THE QUESTION!”: An exhibit by longtime photographer Larry Parsons will be on view October 29 through November 20 at Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography in Hopewell. Joining Parsons for this exhibit will be the Watercolor Women of Gallery 14.

Gallery 14 Fine Art Photography in Hopewell has announced a special exhibit by Larry Parsons. “THE Question! — A Photography Journey,” is on view from October 29 to November 20.

Parsons, a longtime photographer and member of Gallery 14, dares to ask “THE Question!in his latest work, and takes the viewer on a photographic journey in search of the answer. A young boy and his water buffalo constitute our guide through this narrative series, and we follow the questioner as he encounters many different characters and answers. Both Parsons’ tale and the images that narrate it evoke a childlike inquisitiveness which echoes classic storytelling traditions. Is there an answer to “THE Question?” Follow along to find out.

Parsons is a longtime businessman as well as an avocational photographer, having worked many years in investment management in the Princeton area. While studying history at Wake Forest as an undergrad, he was taken by the images illustrating historical tales, and his pursuit of his photography began in earnest in the 1970s when his parents gave him a camera. While he had no formal training, he was able to study with many master teachers, including Bob Denby, Ricardo Barros, and the late Sally Davidson. more