February 21, 2024

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton University Glee Club, currently under the direction of Gabriel Crouch, has maintained a long history of collaborations with vocal artists and ensembles who come to Princeton to coach the chorus members and perform with the Glee Club in a joint concert. This past week, as part of its 10th anniversary “Glee Club Presents” series, the chorus invited to campus the professional American Spiritual Ensemble, which has sustained a mission of keeping the American Negro spiritual alive for more than 25 years. Founded and led by Everett McCorvey, the Spiritual Ensemble seeks to preserve what McCorvey called “folksongs of the Negro slaves” which were not only a source of comfort, hope, and faith throughout centuries, but also a clandestine form of communication. more

TACKLING THE CLASSICS: Scenes from “Swan Lake” and “The Sleeping Beauty” are “tutu ballets” on the program at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Harald Schrader)

Classic Beauty: An All-Tchaikovsky program featuring excerpts from Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, will be danced by American Repertory Ballet (ARB) at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, March 8-10.

“I have steadily watched every individual dancer continue to evolve and elevate their ballet technique, while simultaneously finding further texture and depth in their interpretation of iconic roles in the classical idiom,” said Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel. “This program offers both the ARB dancers and audiences a chance to enjoy renowned music and today’s classical ballet, with a skillful approach and truly expressive characterizations.” more

TRIPLE THE TALENT: The trio Time for Three (TF3) are on the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s program March 9 and 10 at Richardson Auditorium. (Photo by Shervin Lainez)

The trio Time For Three (TF3) will appear with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) at performances on Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 10 at 4 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.

They will perform Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts’ Contact, written specifically for the ensemble in 2022 and featured on the trio’s award-winning album Letters for the Future. Also on the program are Bulgarian composer Marin Goleminov’s The Fire Dancer: Suite from the Ballet, inspired by an ancient Bulgarian spirit ritual, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Selections from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64, his ballet based on the Shakespeare classic. more

BROADWAY SONGS: Members of the Princeton Playhouse Choir in performance. The group will be at McCarter Theatre Center on February 24 at 7 p.m. (Photo by Resonance Vision)

“From Wind to Wonder!,” a concert by the Princeton Playhouse Ensembles of Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, on February 24 at 7 p.m., will unite music theater storytelling, performance, composition, arranging, direction, and choreography featuring the work and leadership of current students and alumni.

Taking place at the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, the Playhouse Ensembles will be joined by several Broadway performers and musicians, including the genre-bending ensemble Third Reprise, Andrew Barth Feldman, Mykal Kilgore, and Kuhoo Verma. The concert program includes new student-written compositions alongside selections from the musicals Waitress, Wicked, In the Heights, West Side Story, Dear Evan Hansen, Sunday in the Park with George, Seussical, and more.  more

COMMUNITY CONCERT: A world premiere is among the pieces at the upcoming performance by the Westminster Community Orchestra, in the Cullen Center on the Westminster campus.

The Westminster Community Orchestra (WCO), conducted by Ruth Ochs, will present a concert titled “Miniatures” on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. in Hillman Hall, in the Cullen Center, on the Westminster campus, Walnut Lane.

The program will feature the world premiere of Kathleen Scheide’s “Pluck” with The Guitars of Westminster Conservatory, Mark Johnstone, director. The concert will also include Westminster Conservatory students Cherie Xu, clarinet; Alison Varra, mezzo-soprano; and Julianna Wong and Tanvi Patil, sopranos.  more

“CHRISTINA FERNANDEZ: MULTIPLE EXPOSURES”: The artist’s contact sheet for her 1999 “Untitled Multiple Exposures” series is featured in her photography exhibition on view at Art on Hulfish through April 28  (Courtesy of Christina Fernandez)

Photographs by renowned Los Angeles–based artist Christina Fernandez exploring migration, labor, and gender are on view at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art on Hulfish gallery in an exhibition that reveals the multiple senses of “exposure” at play in the artist’s work.

“Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures,” on view through April 28, brings together photographs from across the artist’s 30-year career, illuminating the formal and conceptual threads connecting her most important bodies of work.   more

HISTORIC MILL: The Phillips’ Mill Community Association in New Hope, Pa., has been a home to artists since 1929. It will host an inaugural Members Art Show and Sale on the weekends of March 16-17 and March 23-24.

Phillips’ Mill Community Association in New Hope, Pa., is celebrating 95 years with a new Mill Members Art Show and Sale. The depth of the Mill members’ artistic talent will be on display for two weekends, March 16-17 and March 23-24, from 12-4 p.m. at the historic mill. This inaugural non-juried show is a salute to the visual arts creativity of Mill members and the member founders of Phillips’ Mill Community Association in 1929. more

February 14, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

…when love finally calls the tune, it almost always comes from the least expected direction — from the bohemian, the excluded, the marginalized and least powerful folks, and the most hidden places.

—Ted Gioia

On Valentine’s Day 2024 I’m thinking about the way love happens in a song that’s been synonymous with February 14 ever since I sang along with it as a teenager. Although “How Little We Know” comes from a relatively “hidden” songwriter, it was put on the map in 1956 by Frank Sinatra, one of the “least marginalized” and “most powerful” of performers. According to Ted Gioia’s Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University Press 2015), Sinatra brought a “new level of sophistication” to the romantic ballad by adding “layers of irony, sometimes outright cynicism, to the emotional immediacy of the torch singers,” which resulted in “a performance that delivered the inner meaning of the lyric while also offering an arch commentary on it.”  more

By Nancy Plum

The concert this past weekend by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine at McCarter Theatre was long overdue. The Orchestra was scheduled to perform at McCarter a year ago, but the ongoing conflict in that region, combined with travel and economic difficulties, shelved those plans. The Orchestra was finally able to embark on a United States tour this month, and the ensemble brought a rare musical experience to Matthews Theater Sunday afternoon. Led by Volodymyr Sirenko and featuring guest pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky, the Orchestra presented a program steeped in both the Romantic symphonic tradition and Ukrainian musical history.  more

“GHETTO GODS IN DIVINELAND”: Performances are underway for “Ghetto Gods in Divineland.” Written by Richard Bradford and Anthony Martinez-Briggs, and directed by Ozzie Jones, the play with music runs through February 25 at Passage Theatre. Above, from left, Gekiyla (Tasha Holmes), Papi Shh (Carlo Campbell), and Ameen (Davon Cochran) meet on the Lower Trenton Bridge — a tableau that recalls the Poor Righteous Teachers’ 1990 video for their song “Rock Dis Funky Joint.” (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Passage Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Ghetto Gods in Divineland. The play — a vibrant and poignant blend of drama, music, and dance — is a salute to the Poor Righteous Teachers (PRT), a hip-hop group whose members — Wise Intelligent, Culture Freedom, and the late Father Shaheed — were from Trenton.

A press release describes the show as an “experimental Afrofuturism play” that portrays “Trenton’s political and social issues through the lens of the ‘Divineland’ neighborhood — also known as the Mayor Donnelly Project Homes, where the members of PRT met and grew up. The play dramatizes the social trauma of Trenton’s Divineland using progressiveness, modern science, technology, and wisdom from the ancestors.”  more

BALLET AT ITS MOST CLASSICAL: Philadelphia Ballet’s version of the classic ballet “Giselle” comes to the Academy of Music February 29-March 10.

Philadelphia Ballet will stage the classic ballet Giselle, in a version by artistic director, Angel Corella, at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music from February 29 to March 10. Tickets for all performances start at $25.

A ballet masterpiece, Giselle is about love, betrayal and redemption.  more

PINK, PINK, AND MORE PINK: In “Pinkalicious The Musical,” coming to State Theatre New Jersey on March 10, a lover of all things pink goes a little too far. (Photo by Richard Termine)

State Theatre New Jersey presents Pinkalicious The Musical on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. After the show, a special meet and greet and photo opportunity with Pink and Peter will take place in the downstairs lobby. Tickets range from $15-$35.

In Pinkalicious The Musical, Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe — a dream come true for this pink-loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this predicament. more

VIRTUOSO: Celebrated violinist Itzhak Perlman is in recital February 24 at State Theatre New Jersey. (Photo by BYU Arts)

State Theatre New Jersey (STNJ) presents violinist Itzhak Perlman in recital on Saturday, February 24 at 8 p.m. This special performance is part of State Theatre’s annual Classical Season Celebration.

“We are thrilled to once again welcome Itzhak Perlman to anchor our Classical Season Celebration,” said Sarah Chaplin, State Theatre New Jersey president and CEO. “As a nonprofit presenting theater, this signature fundraiser provides essential support from our community for STNJ’s year-round classical presentations and arts education programs.” more

“BLOWING BUBBLES”: Annabelle Schu won the top award for Painting at the 11th annual “Youth Art Exhibition,” on view through Sunday, February 18 at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

Winners across five categories were announced at the 11th annual “Youth Art Exhibition” awards ceremony on January 27 at the historic Phillips’ Mill. Over 140 works of art from students attending 23 area high schools fill the walls of the mill through February 18.  more

“BOOKWORKS AND BEYOND”: Princeton University Library will feature works by Ulises Carrión in the Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery at Firestone Library February 21 through June 13. (Photo by Brandon Johnson)

Princeton University Library (PUL) will present “Ulises Carrión: Bookworks and Beyond,” the spring exhibition in the Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery at Firestone Library, February 21 through June 13. It is curated by Sal Hamerman, metadata librarian for Special Collections at PUL, and Javier Rivero Ramos, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Art and Archaeology, who is now assistant curator at Art Bridges Foundation in Arkansas. more

“SPRAWL”: This work by Judi Tavill of Rumson was selected for the “2024 International Juried Exhibition,” on view through March 17 at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster. In addition, Tavill was selected for a solo exhibition at the center.

The Center for Contemporary Art’s “2024 International Juried Exhibition” is on view through March 17.

Juror Hunter O’Hanian selected 50 pieces from 902 entries from 312 artists from across the U.S. and Canada, China, Israel, and Italy. New Jersey artists selected for the exhibition are: Hilary Houston Bachelder (Princeton), Pamela Becker (Flemington), Bette Blank (Madison), Maryann Burton (Hasbrouck Heights), Mark Davies (Lebanon), Tracy DiTolla (Oakland), Sandy Furst (Basking Ridge), Wendy Hallstrom (Clinton), Jeffrey Hartman (North Bergen), Patti Jordan (Montclair), Sandra Kosinski (Long Beach Township), Jennifer Malone (Maplewood), Kristen Martin-Aarnio (Bayonne), David Orban (Trenton), Natalie Preston (Jersey City), Donna Ruane Rogers (Frenchtown), Judi Tavill (Rumson), Hui Tian (South Orange), Leah Tomaino (Randolph), and Bonnie Wilkenfeld (Mendham Township). more

COMMUNITY PUPPET SHOW: Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) Artist-in-Residence Kenneth Lewis Sr., right, has led local families in recent puppet-making workshops, which will culminate in a public performance on February 18 at 3 p.m. in the ACP’s Solley Theater.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will host a Community Puppet Show on Sunday, February 18 at 3 p.m. in their Solley Theater. Led by winter Artist-in-Residence Kenneth Lewis Sr., a local artist who has led puppet-making workshops for many years in our area, this collaborative production is designed, constructed, and scripted by Princeton community members of all ages. more

“WITH JOHN AND FLORENCE BROADWAY”: This acrylic on canvas painting by Onome Olutu is featured in “Transversing Nostalgia,” her dual exhibit with Chenelle René, on view through March 9 in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents “Transversing Nostalgia,” a dual exhibition by painters Onome Olotu and Chanelle René, on view in the ACP’s Taplin Gallery through March 9.

Working with personal and sourced archives, Olotu and René take a drive down memory lane, reminiscing intimate connections that allow the past to speak to the present and future.  more

February 7, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

People who listen to the Beatles love them — what about that?

—Richard Poirier in The Performing Self (1971)

Remarkable, unspeakable New York!

—Henry James, in The American Scene

My mood at the moment is best expressed in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, which I was reading when the Beatles landed at JFK on February 7, 1964:

“I enter upon this part of my story in the most pensive and melancholy frame of mind that ever sympathetic breast was touched with…. Every line I write, I feel an abatement of the quickness of my pulse, and of that careless alacrity with it, which every day of my life prompts me to say and write a thousand things I should not.”

Truer words were never not spoken. Did I really care about the Fab Four? I had no choice since my transistor radio was permanently tuned to Top 40 servings on WINS from Murray the K, the DJ who liked to call himself the Fifth Beatle. My idea of musical bliss in those days was a moment in Sonny Rollins Vol. 2 on Blue Note, the change of pianists that occurs in Thelonius Monk’s “Mysterioso,” after Rollins delivers one of his boldest statements and Monk makes way for Horace Silver as J.J. Johnson’s trombone booms overhead. Never did it occur to me that a bunch of funny looking characters from the U.K. could compete with that.

At the time of The Great Arrival, I was living in a small front room of a brownstone at 33 West 87th Street, with a poster of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles over my bed and one of Joan Miró’s The Farm on another wall above a portable stereo and a box of jazz LPs. My window looked across the street to No. 26, where Billie Holiday had been living at the time of her death in 1959. Lady Day’s “townhouse” sold for almost $14 million in 2022. In 1964 I was paying $120 a month. Most likely Billie had a couple of furnished rooms in 1959. She reportedly died with 70 cents to her name. It’s been four years since I felt like going into New York. The city I love is not the one where Billie Holiday’s townhouse sold for $14 million.  more

By Nancy Plum

The Westminster Community Orchestra performed a veritable potpourri of instrumental and vocal music this past weekend. Sunday afternoon’s concert in Richardson Auditorium had something for everyone, from operatic excerpts to a world premiere to traditional Chinese music. Led by conductor Ruth Ochs, the 55-member ensemble showcased several student winners of the Orchestra’s Concerto Competition, as well as one of Rider University’s choruses. Taking a pep rally approach to drawing the audience into the performance, Ochs brought an additionally festive atmosphere to the afternoon.

The Community Orchestra displayed its own capabilities opening with Carl Maria von Weber’s “Overture” to his 1821 opera Der Freischütz. Considered the first German Romantic opera, Weber’s work was revolutionary in its folklore roots and unearthly portrayal of the supernatural. Ochs and the Orchestra began the work with a slow, dark, and mysterious introduction, as a quartet of horns set the Wolf’s Glen scene. The string sound was well balanced, with the second section of the “Overture” fully symphonic and martial. Clarinetists Russell Labe and Pamela Kotula provided graceful lines coloring the music well. more

TRIO: Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, violinist Isabelle Faust, and pianist Alexander Melnikov will perform at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on February 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Pianist Alexander Melnikov, violinist Isabelle Faust, and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras made their Princeton University Concerts (PUC) debut as a trio in 2020. They will return to PUC together again on Thursday, February 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium.

The trio will perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 2 in F Major, Op. 80, Elliott Carter’s final composition Epigrams for piano, violin and cello, and Johannes Brahms’ rarely heard Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8. more

Alison Bolshoi

Boheme Opera NJ stages Georges Bizet’s Carmen on March 15 at 8 p.m. and March 17 at 3 p.m. at Kendall Hall Performance Theater on the campus of The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road in Ewing.

Bizet’s tale of lust and vengeance is consistently in the top five operas performed around the world. Boheme Opera’s version has virtual sets by J. Matthew Root, and the Boheme Opera NJ Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of conductor and artistic director Joseph Pucciatti. Carmen also features members of the Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre and the Princeton Boychoir and Girlchoir. more

MULTI-TALENTED: Reggie Harris sings, writes songs, and tells stories at his Princeton appearance at Christ Congregation Church on February 16.

On Friday, February 16 at 8 p.m., the Princeton Folk Music Society presents singer-songwriter, storyteller, and song leader Reggie Harris at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane.

Harris is a fluid vocalist, arranger, and guitarist. For over 40 years and nine albums, he performed with his then wife in the Kim and Reggie Harris folk duo, singing of the quest for freedom and care for the environment. The duo were known for their scholarly research and knowledge of both the Underground Railroad and the modern civil rights movement. After their divorce in 2016, Harris found that continuing without the duo was a challenge, but “it was time to open myself to what I could do.” more

DOCUMENTARIES AND MORE: A still from “Between Earth and Sky,” a film by Andrew Nadkarni that was also shortlisted for the 2024 Academy Awards, is one of the works to be screened at the 43rd Annual Thomas Edison Film Festival’s in-person premiere at Princeton University on February 16, followed by a virtual discussion with the filmmakers on February 17.(Photo courtesy of Andrew Nadkarni)

The 43rd season of the renowned Thomas Edison Film Festival (TEFF) will premiere on February 16 at Princeton University’s James Stewart Film Theater with a screening, a virtual discussion with filmmakers, and films available to view on demand, presented in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts.

TEFF’s in-person premiere opens with a reception, screening of seven films, and a Q&A with festival artists including filmmaker James Hollenbaugh, poet and performer Bimpé Fageyinbo, lighting director Gabriel Kurzlop, filmmaker Chehade Boulos, and producer Julia Anderson. On February 17 a livestreamed discussion with the filmmakers will be hosted by Festival Director Jane Steuerwald, Festival Associate and Juror Henry Baker, and Margaret Parsons, curator, emerita, of the National Gallery of Art.  more

Boris Petrushansky

On March 3 at 4 p.m., Altamura Legacy Concerts (ALC) at Princeton United Methodist Church presents Russian pianist and Tchaikovsky Competition jury member Boris Petrushansky performing Mussorgsky’s  Pictures at an Exhibition, paired with Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6.

This concert marks the septuagenarian’s historic return to the U.S. in over two decades. Admission is $40, $10 for students, cash at the door or reserved seating. The church is located on Nassau Street at Vandeventer Avenue. The concert series opens its doors at 3:30 p.m. with a welcoming Coffee/Tea Bar in the venue organized by Illy At Earth’s End. Visit legacyartsinternationa.org for ticket information. more