April 26, 2023

By Anne Levin

At its meeting on Monday evening, Princeton Council approved the 2023 municipal budget, which will lead to an increase for the average Princeton taxpayer of $279 for the year.

The budget calls for $72.47 million in spending, about $1.27 million more over the previous year. The increase comes from higher costs for things like health care and waste management, among other issues.

A work session on the Princeton Farmers Market revealed that, subject to Council approval, the market will return to Hinds Plaza in June. The weekly gathering of fresh food vendors, farmers, and customers, founded in 2009, was moved to such spots as Franklin Avenue and the Dinky train station lot during the pandemic.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

I sat me down to write a simple story which maybe in the end became a song

—Keith Reid (1946-2023), from “Pilgrim’s Progress”

The first “simple story” Keith Reid gave to the world took some strange and wonderful turns. According to Beyond the Pale, Procol Harum’s rich, many-leveled website, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has inspired as many as a thousand known cover versions while becoming, says the BBC, “the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK.”

And it all began when Keith Reid mailed the lyrics to singer/pianist Gary Brooker in an envelope addressed simply “Gary, 15 Fairfield Road, Eastwood, Essex” and postmarked South Lambeth. You can see the very envelope on the website, along with a photo of the Burmese Brown cat for whom the group was named.

Introduced by Scorsese

The song that has fascinated generations since it was released in the UK as a single on May 12, 1967 is not by any means Reid’s most impressive accomplishment. In his foreword to Henry Scott-Irvine’s group biography Procol Harum: The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade of Pale (Omnibus Press 2012), Martin Scorsese points out that the band “drew from so many deep wells – classical music, 19th Century literature, Rhythm and Blues, seaman’s logs, concertist poetry,” each tune becoming “a cross-cultural whirligig, a road trip through the pop subconscious.”  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra fused Mozart, Bruckner and the 21st century in a series of concerts this past weekend, including the premiere of a new work by Princeton University composer Steven Mackey. Led by Music Director Xian Zhang, the Orchestra combined Mackey’s large-scale symphonic work with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s spirited Symphony No. 25 and Anton Bruckner’s devout Te Deum. Joining the Orchestra in Friday night’s performance at Richardson Auditorium were a number of exceptional vocal soloists and the Princeton University Glee Club. more

FROM THE FILM TO THE STAGE: “Madagascar the Musical” brings familiar characters to the State Theatre New Jersey on Saturday, May 6.

State Theatre New Jersey presents Madagascar the Musical on Saturday, May 6 at 2 and 7 p.m. Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip-hop Hippo, and the plotting penguins as they bound out of the zoo and onto the stage in this live musical adventure. The family-friendly musical features new original music and a colorful cast of larger-than-life characters from the iconic film. Tickets range from $19-$79.   more

On Wednesday, May 3, Israeli singer, songwriter, and guitarist David Broza will perform a community-wide concert at The Jewish Center of Princeton in honor of the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Broza appeals to music lovers of all ages. His signature sound brings together the influence of Spanish flamenco, American folk, rock and roll, and poetry. Social justice and peace advocacy are embedded in Broza’s work. His 1977 hit song“Yihye Tov” remains an Israeli peace anthem.  more

JAZZING IT UP: Danny Tobias, trumpeter, leads his quartet as part of the upcoming Jazz Appreciation Festival in Plainsboro. (Photo by Redmile)

Three noted jazz musicians – James Popik, Danny Tobias, and Tom Tallisch – will take part in Plainsboro Township’s Jazz Appreciation Festival, which opens April 28. They will present a series of three concerts on Friday evenings at 7 p.m.

Guitarist and Grammy-nominated feature artist James Popik will kick off the series with an opening concert on on April 28, at Market Square Plaza in front of the Plainsboro Library, 9 Van Doren Street. His group, the JP4, includes John Henry Goldman on trumpet, Lawrence Haber on Bass, and Karttikeya Arul on drums, halo drums and percussion. They will play classic and modern jazz. more

A MUSICAL CLASSIC: Denise Carey of Newtown, Pa. plays Dolly Levi in the Yardley Players’ production of “Hello Dolly!” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre April 28-May 7. (Photo courtesy of Yardley Players)

Yardley Players celebrates the golden age of the American musical at Kelsey Theatre with Hello, Dolly! The show runs weekends from Friday, April 28 through Sunday, May 7 with matinee and evening performances. Kelsey Theatre is located at 1200 Old Trenton Road on the Mercer County Community College campus in West Windsor.  more

The cast of What We’ve Lost and What We’ve Learned perform during a dress rehearsal at the Wallace Theater on April 28, 2022. Photo by Larry Levanti

COME TO THE CABARET: Princeton University senior Cassandra James is among those performing in her “Mostly Sort of Happily Ever After” at Princeton University’s Lewis Arts complex April 30. (Photo by Larry Levanti)

Mostly Sort of Happily Ever After, a cabaret performance featuring and directed by Princeton University senior Cassandra James along with other student performers, will be presented April 30 at 2 and 8 p.m. in the Wallace Theater in the Lewis Arts complex on the campus. Admission is free. more

“FEMALE CARDINAL ON DOGWOOD”: The work of Karen Caldwell of Sunflower Glass Studio in Stockton is featured along the Covered Bridge Artisans Spring Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The Covered Bridge Artisans are hosting their Spring Studio Tour on April 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The Covered Bridge Artisans Studio Tour is a self-guided tour located in the Delaware River Valley of lower Hunterdon and Bucks counties. The studio tour takes place in eight professional artists’ studios in the Lambertville, Stockton, Sergeantsville, and New Hope, Pa., areas with 14 additional artists at the Sergeantsville Firehouse Events Center. All studios are located within 5 miles of Stockton. more

“ICELANDIC HORSE”: This photo by Mathew Renk is part of an exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC), on view April 28 through May 31 at Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury. An opening reception is on Sunday, April 30 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Gourgaud Gallery is hosting a photography exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC) April 28 through May 31. An opening reception is on Sunday, April 30 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The exhibit features original, framed photographs of various subjects and sizes taken by club members. Most photographs will be for sale at prices ranging from $99 to $450, with 20 percent of all sales benefiting the Cranbury Arts Council.  more

Ficus, 235 Nassau Street, presents “In Reflection: SiriOm Singh & C.a. Shofed” this spring in the upstairs dining gallery through June 4. An opening reception is on Sunday, April 30 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

SiriOm Singh

Colorful images seen in large bodies of water, man-made structures, and nature’s puddles illuminate in both artists’ work. Singh’s Impressionist Abstract-style paintings take viewers through a window and into his texture-rich and colorful scenes. Shofed’s modern photographs, printed on metal, have been described as “industrial meets nature.” His images capture moments in time and grasp our hearts.

Singh is a self-taught artist living and creating in Trenton. He is the co-owner of Cross Pollination art gallery in Lambertville, which shows his work and the work of his wife, fiber artist Ayala Shimelman. more

“LIFERS”: This painting by Beatrice Bork is featured in “Water Works,” her dual exhibit with Joe Kazimierczyk, on view May 4 through June 4 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on May 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville will present “Water Works,” a transformative journey through the element of water, May 4 through June 4. The exhibit features the watercolors of animal artist Beatrice Bork and the landscapes of award-winning oil painter Joe Kazimierczyk.

All are invited to meet the artists at the opening reception on May 6 from 5 to 8 p.m., and gain a deeper understanding of their creative processes, inspirations, and techniques.  more

April 19, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

I’m lost amidst a sea of wheat
where people speak but seldom meet

—Keith Reid (1946-2023)

Haruki Murakami’s Novelist as a Vocation (Knopf 2022) comes with a blurb from Patti Smith, who compares readers waiting for the novelist’s latest work to past generations lining up at record stores for new albums by the Beatles or Bob Dylan. As it happens, the Beatles are at the heart of Murakami’s chapter “On Originality” where he recalls a boyhood moment sitting in front of his “little transistor radio” listening to them for the first time (“Please Please Me”), thinking, “This is fantastic! I’ve never heard anything like this!”  It was as if “air of a kind I have never breathed before is pouring in, I feel a sense of profound well-being, a natural high. Liberated from the constraints of reality, it’s as if my feet have left the ground. This to me is how ‘originality’ should feel: pure and simple.” more

MUSICAL FAMILIES: “CMS Kids: Exploring Dvorák” is the final family program this season for Princeton University Concerts. Two sessions are curated for kids ages 3-6 and their families at the Lewis Center.

Princeton University Concerts (PUC) welcomes The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center back to Princeton for the final family program of the 2022-23 season on Saturday, May 20, at 1 and 3 p.m. “CMS Kids: Exploring Dvorák” is curated for kids ages 3-6 and their families. Performances will take place in the Lee Rehearsal Room at the Lewis Arts Complex.  more

CULTURE BRINGS TOLERANCE: Collegium Musicum NJ has titled its April 22 concert at Nassau Presbyterian Church “Culture for Understanding and Tolerance.” Pianist Larissa Korwin, left, and violinist Alexei Yavtuhovich are among the performers.

Collegium Musicum NJ begins its 2023 Classical Music Concert Series, “Culture for Understanding and Tolerance,” at Nassau Presbyterian Church on April 22 at 6 p.m.

“We strongly believe the 2023 Concert Series will enable our communities to better understand and enjoy each other’s unique national culture, traditions, and historical development through the performance of music along with presentations of other art forms,” reads a press release on the series.

Performances will be by chamber orchestra, soloists, and small chamber music groups. Each event will include a short lecture illustrating its musical connections to its history and cultures.

Tickets are available online through Eventbrite. Seating is limited, so advance registration is advised, at https://qrco.de/bdrkG7.

CUMBIA AND COMMUNITY: Some of the cast members of “La Gran Cumbia Espectacular!,” which continues this week at the Wallace Theater. (Photo by Abe Jacobs)

Kaelani Burja, a senior at Princeton University, has created “La Gran Cumbia Espectacular!,” a theatrical performance and celebration of an art form with African and Indigenous roots encompassing rhythm, dance, and music. The show continues Thursday and Friday, April 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. at the Wallace Theater, located at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus.

The art originated along Colombia’s Rio Magdalena. The show celebrates cumbia and community, through three styles of cumbia. The cast will teach audience members interested in participating how to dance cumbia, and share what it means to them in a “perfectly imperfect rollerskating/quinceanera/Selena/Zumba/horror/drag/pop/zombie community block party,” according to a press release.

Admission is free. Visit arts.princeton.edu for more information.

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) will celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month and the history of African American music in New Jersey with “Jazz in the Sourlands,” a series of special events on Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29.

On Friday, SSAAM will hold a concert and wine and cheese reception at the True Farmstead, a historically Black-owned property on Hollow Road in Skillman. Guests will be invited to the National Historic Register-listed Mt. Zion AME Church to view “From Fiddlers to Jazz Bands: African American Music of the Sourlands,” a new exhibit from SSAAM.

Historian Isabela Morales will open the exhibit with a presentation on the rich history of Black fiddle playing in New Jersey and the United States from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Special guest and SSAAM contributor, violinist Laticia Lewis, will perform selections from her repertoire, including traditional African American spirituals and jazz pieces. Lewis is a composer, performer, and educator. She is an award-winning author and historian of slavery who serves as SSAAM’s education and exhibit manager. more

FAIRY TALE: Roxey Ballet’s upcoming season of “Cinderella” includes a tea party and a sensory-friendly performance in addition to a regular show.

Cinderella, part of the Children’s Classic Stories repertoire of Roxey Ballet, will be represented this spring in two matinee performances at Villa Victoria Academy in Ewing, a sensory-friendly show at Mill Ballet in New Hope, Pa.; and “Cinderella’s Royal Tea Party” at Mill Ballet.

The tea party is first, on Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. Mill Ballet is at 46 North Sugan Road in New Hope, Pa. Guests will visit with Cinderella and her friends while having tea and sweets. The Fairy Godmother will also make a guest appearance for a story time and dance class. Tickets are available at roxeyballet.org/teaparty. more

“MARO DĒLO TOUR POSTER”: This image by Thomas C. DeLorenzo will be on display at this year’s “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” on view April 23-30 at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

Putting a cap on photography month at Phillips’ Mill, the “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show” will be open to the community April 23 -30. Now in its third year, the Mill Photo Committee members’ fine art photography images will grace the walls of the historic mill following the 30th Anniversary celebration of the juried “Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition,” which closes on April 21.    more

SUPPLIES FOR ARTIE: Jim Baxter, right, founder of Baxter Construction, with HomeFront’s ArtSpace and Sewing Space Director Ruthann Traylor, has announced an art supply drive for Artie, a mobile addition to HomeFront’s ArtSpace program that will bring creative experiences to under-resourced children living throughout Mercer County.

For nearly 40 years, Baxter Construction has been involved in community outreach — helping organizations large and small. Jim Baxter is deeply rooted in the place he calls home and as principal and founder of Baxter Construction, he is committed to giving back and being of service. 

When his storefront shop in Hopewell became available almost two years ago, Jim offered HomeFront a space for free to help make up for the financial hardship when the world shut down. It turned into an enormous success for HomeFront and created a wonderful partnership with additional opportunities to make a difference. And now, you can help make a difference to bring art enrichment to the underserved families in our community. more

“THE ART OF CALLIGRAPHY”: An exhibit of works by Michael Shiue, featuring a wide range of calligraphy styles is on view in the Technology Center and other second floor locations at Princeton Public Library through June 15.

Princeton Public Library has four exhibits on view on the second floor this spring.

Through May 15, the work of photographer Larry Parsons is on view. The exhibit, “THE Question: A Photographic Journey,” is on view in the Reading Room. Parsons is a longtime businessman and avocational photographer, having worked many years in investment management in the Princeton area. His work has been exhibited at many local shows and he has taught photography at the Princeton Adult School, Chautauqua Institution, and Grounds For Sculpture.  more

INSIDE THE ARTIST’S STUDIO: Visual artist Spriha Gupta, whose work is shown here, will be the featured speaker for the Inside the Artist’s Studio talk on April 21 at 7 p.m. at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center.

On Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m., artist Spriha Gupta will be the featured speaker for the Inside the Artist’s Studio talk series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center. Gupta, a member of the Princeton Makes artist cooperative, is a mixed-media artist strongly influenced by her Indian cultural roots. She is known for creating narratives with organic forms and textures.

Gupta, who has placed work internationally and frequently has work in solo and group shows, will share insights about her artistic practice and creative process.  more

April 12, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

Life is a wild polyphony

—Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) 

During the media’s recent “wild polyphony” on a theme of indictment, I tried a “Brahms/indictment” search online just for fun and came up with Maurice Brahms, founding owner of a discotheque called Infinity, which had a 100-foot-long dance floor surrounded by mirrors, colored neon rings, 54 spinning laser beams, and 70 neon sculptures. Once known as “the uncrowned king of New York night life,” Brahms was the subject of a 1980 federal grand jury investigation into possible tax fraud. So while a terminally fraudulent ex-president was being indicted and arraigned in a New York courtroom, I learned that Brahms had retained Donald Trump’s favorite fixer Roy Cohn, who also represented the owners of Studio 54, a target of the same investigation. Warned by Cohn through an intermediary that his family would be harmed if he fought the sentence, Brahms pled guilty and served two and a half years at Allenwood Federal Penitentiary.

I could have rolled the Google dice and come up with any number of professions for an American Brahms, in and out of the music business, but given the ongoing interest in Trump’s and the country’s current plight, it was worth the search to know that the great composer’s namesake was a player in New York’s 1970s club scene. It’s also worth adding that in his late teens Maurice’s son Eric promoted events at Manhattan nightclubs featuring, among a polyphony of other performers, Run DMC, LL Cool J, 2 Live Crew, Jazzy Jeff, Fresh Prince, and Fat Joe. more

FRENCH AND ENGLISH: Soprano Julianne Baird is among the performers at a concert by The Dryden Ensemble reflecting two of the ensemble’s passions, in two languages.

The Dryden Ensemble presents “Swan Songs” on Sunday, April 16 at 3 p.m. at Seminary Chapel, located on the campus of the Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street.

This concert celebrates nearly 29 years of creative programming by the ensemble’s artistic director, Jane McKinley. Designed as a theatrical entertainment, the program is divided into two acts: French and English, reflecting two of the ensemble’s passions. Actors Roberta Maxwell and Paul Hecht will offer dramatic readings from 17th-century letters and diaries by Élisabeth Charlotte (sister-in-law to Louis XIV), courtier Saint-Simon, Moliére, Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, Mary Burwell, and others. more

A NEW GENERATION: The Emerson String Quartet’s farewell tour includes a return to Princeton and features their proteges, the Calidore String Quartet. The Emerson ensemble is shown above; the Calidore below.

On Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m., The Emerson String Quartet will return to Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium one last time, performing a program of Shostakovich, Princeton native Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Mendelssohn. Their protégés, the Calidore String Quartet, will join them for an encore performance of Mendelssohn’s string octet. more