December 1, 2021

“DNNERWARE”: This work by R. Piccione is part of “Master Class Artists,” on view in the Lower Gallery at the Arts Council of Princeton December 4 through January 29. An artists’ reception will be held on Saturday, December 4 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton will present an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by artists from the Painting and Drawing Master Class instructed by Charles David Viera. This exhibition will be offered in the Lower Gallery December 4 through January 29, and the public is invited to an artists’ reception on Saturday, December 4 from 3 to 5 p.m.

“These students are from a special class that the Arts Council is now adding to their regular schedule of classes, and it’s for artists that still appreciate a structured class environment,” said Viera. “These artists have worked for three months to create a wonderful exhibition that includes a variety of representational and expressionistic paintings. The range of ideas and creativity that these artists represent makes for an impressive and exciting exhibition.”

“Master Class Artists” will feature works from Mercer and Hunterdon county artists K. Chasalow, M. Babich, M. Kalvar, L. Langsner, A. Meisel , L. Berlik, S. Bershad, P. Huttner, R. Piccione, and E.Lange

The Arts Council of Princeton  is located at 102 Witherspoon Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 924-8777 or visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.

IN THE MIDST OF HISTORY: Shown is the historic Colonial era Cranbury Inn. As owners and innkeepers Tom and Gay Ingegneri point out, “The Inn is really its own entity, with a history and stories to tell. We are just its stewards. It is a joy to own such an historic, well-loved entity. We think of it as a home away from home for our guests, and we are proud to be its stewards. We especially love to see the young people and students visit and become interested in its history.”

By Jean Stratton

A Colonial-era inn still fulfilling its purpose: serving customers high quality dinners, celebrating weddings, hosting banquets — and more. This is a rarity today, and all the more reason for it to be acknowledged and commemorated.

With changing tastes and customs, and altered community styles and landscapes, changes come along quickly, almost before we know it. The Cranbury Inn, located at 21 Main Street in Cranbury, has stood the test of time, and continues to offer its customers the highest standards of service and cuisine.

Its history is a story in itself.

In the mid-18th century, taverns were built in the Cranbury area to meet the needs of travelers passing through the region, often on their way from New York to Philadelphia, or in the opposite direction. What is now The Cranbury Inn has been functioning as a place to eat and drink since at least 1750. more

MAKING A SPLASH: Princeton University men’s water polo player Roko Pozaric fires the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman star Pozaric scored four goals to help 19th-ranked Princeton defeat No. 16 Fordham 17-8 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers, now 26-7, will face No. UCLA on December 2 in Los Angeles in the second opening-round game of the tournament with the victor advancing to the semis on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University men’s water polo team had some options when it set up its schedule this year.

The Tigers could have looked at their less experienced roster after a year off from competition and scheduled to build momentum against East Coast teams. Instead, they challenged themselves from the get-go against a parade of talented West Coast squads and the resulting reward is a trip to the second opening-round game of the NCAA tournament.

“To me, it was worth the risk,” said Princeton head coach Dustin Litvak.

“Otherwise we’d end up playing the same teams we always play every weekend. If that was going to be the reality, it was almost going to be better that we’d end up just practicing. If we ended up getting a ‘no’ on our two California trips, I was fine with just practicing through those weekends. Thankfully it worked out and we were able to go out there and play a lot of great teams at a lot of great pools.”

Last Saturday, things worked out very well for the Tigers as 10th-ranked Princeton pulled away from 16th-ranked Fordham for a 17-8 win in the first opening-round game of the NCAAs. It is the program’s first NCAA win since 2011. The Tigers will play at No. 1 UCLA in the second opening-round game of the NCAA tournament Thursday.

“We want to compete and we want to play with confidence,” said Litvak. “If we do that, we give ourselves a chance.” more

TRIPLE THREAT: Princeton University men’s basketball player Tosan Evboumwan dribbles to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, junior forward Evboumwan scored a career-high 19 points and added eight rebounds and five assists as Princeton defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 89-79. The Tigers, now 5-2, play at Hofstra on December 1 before hosting Drexel on December 4 and Bucknell on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Tosan Evboumwan was sidelined when the Princeton University men’s basketball team played at Monmouth last Wednesday, and he was missed.

Princeton built a 46-39 halftime lead against the Hawks but faltered down the stretch, falling 76-64, lacking the inside presence and playmaking ability that the 6’9, 215-pound junior forward Evboumwan brings to the table.

Last Sunday,  Evboumwan, a native of Newcastle, England, returned to the lineup as the Tigers hosted Fairleigh Dickinson University and he certainly made a difference. Evboumwan tallied a career-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists as Princeton topped FDU 89-79.

“It is great to be back and playing with my teammates,” said Evboumwan.

“We got a win after the loss to Monmouth. It was tough to watch and not be out there. I am glad to be back.”

Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson was certainly glad to see Evboumwan back in action. more

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton University women’s basketball player Abby Meyers puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Sunday, senior guard Meyers scored a game-high 21 points to help Princeton defeat Maine 82-43. The Tigers, now 5-1, play at No. 22 Florida Gulf Coast on December 1 and at Fordham on December 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Abby Meyers knows that she has to be a go-to offensive player for the Princeton University women’s basketball team this winter.

After playing a supporting role to such stars as Bella Alarie and Carlie Littlefield in the past, it is time for Meyers to carry more of the scoring load.

“As a senior, I have gotten a lot of trust from my coaches and teammates, which I really value and appreciate,” said Meyers, who averaged 9.4 points a game in the 2017-18 and 6.3 points in 2019-20.

“I almost have the green light and that is something that not many people are lucky enough to have. I am working really hard on my game. My teammates are looking for me. In the end, we need the scorers to score. I really want to try and internalize that role, being a good scorer for our team. We need it.”

Last Sunday against visiting Maine, Meyers displayed her offensive game, tallying a game-high 21 points as the Tigers pulled away to an 82-43 win in improving to 5-1.

“Getting 100 shots a day is really key to keeping your shot good,” said Meyers, a 6’0 native of Potomac, Md., who is now averaging a team-best 17.7 points a game this season.

“It is just having fun with and not overthinking it. I think a lot of our players in the beginning started to overthink stuff because there is a year off. They pictured a lot of things, like I am going to do this, this, and this. It is just going in with no expectations and having a short term memory and playing the best that you can.” more

99 AND COUNTING: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors fires the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Connors scored the lone goal for 10th-ranked Princeton as it fell 3-1 to No. 4 Northeastern. The tally marked the 99th point for Connors in her college career. The Tigers, now 5-4-1 overall, play a two-game set at Providence on December 3 and 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton University women’s hockey team having not scored in its previous two games heading into its contest against Northeastern last Saturday, Maggie Connors and her teammates came out firing.

The 10th-ranked Tigers outshot the visiting No. 4 Huskies 15-6 in the first period.

“After last night’s game, we really regrouped,” said junior forward Connors, referring to a 2-0 loss to Northeastern last Friday.

“We wanted to come out strong and really push the pace, knowing that they are a very fast team, respect to them.”

Even though the game was knotted in a 0-0 tie after the first with Northeastern goalie Aerie Frankel coming up big to repel Princeton, the Tigers were confident they would break through.

“We stuck together, we knew that it was going to come if we keep putting pucks on net,” said Connors. “She is an amazing goalie, we had to keep pushing.”

After the Huskies took a 1-0 lead with 6:38 left in the second period, Connors got a puck in the back of the net in the waning moments of the frame, stealing the puck from Frankel and flipping it past her.

“I just wanted to forecheck, I knew I was the closest there,” said Connors, whose tally was her eighth goal of the year and the 99th point in her Princeton career. more

TACKLING MACHINE: Princeton University star linebacker Jeremiah Tyler corrals a ball carrier in action this fall. Last week, Tyler was named as a finalist for the 2021 Stats Perform Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Buck Buchanan Award. The Buck Buchanan Award is presented to the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year. The award, in its 27th season, is named for Buchanan, a legendary Hall of Fame defensive lineman who starred with the Kansas City Chiefs and played collegiately for Grambling State. Tyler produced a team-high 58 tackles this season, adding seven for a loss as Princeton went 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy League, to tie Dartmouth for the league title. The senior captain also had two sacks, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and six pass breakups. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Pito Walton has been around Hobey Baker Rink for around a decade.

Growing up in nearby Peapack, Walton played in youth hockey games at the historic rink. Going on to star at the Lawrenceville School, Walton was in the stands to watch Princeton University games.

Now as a junior defenseman for Princeton, Walton relishes the chance play on a daily basis in the storied building.

“It was a real privilege to come here and it is a dream come true,” said Walton.

“I came here to games when I was at Lawrenceville. When I was a kid, I played mite games here.”

Last Saturday, Walton was all over Baker Rink, helping Princeton produce a superb defensive effort as it battled RIT to a scoreless stalemate through regulation before losing 1-0 in overtime and moving to 3-5-1 overall.

“We definitely put an emphasis on our d-zone, making sure that we focused,” said Walton, reflecting on the contest which came on the heels of a 5-4 loss to RIT on Friday evening.

“We are just focused on staying connected in the d-zone and making sure that we are communicating, knowing that we are really a positionally-sound team. When pucks are turned over, we are going to pounce on them and get it going the other way.” more

HAN SOLO: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Han Shin gets ready to fire the puck up the ice in a game last winter. Sophomore defenseman Shin figures to be a key performer for PDS this winter. The Panthers, who open their 2021-22 season by falling 3-2 to Pope John, play the Hun School on December 1 at the Ice Land Rink and then host St. Augustine on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The 2021-22 season will mark the dawn of a new era for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

While the storied program has established itself as a traditional power, winning state Prep and county titles and posting some memorable victories over Mid-Atlantic Hockey League foes like Lawrenceville and Hun, it is branching out this winter to join the Gordon Conference and compete in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state Non-Public tournament for the first time.

PDS head coach Scott Bertoli is fired up about the program’s new path.

“I feel like the expectation and hope that it will be a normal, uninterrupted season — it lends itself right from the get-go to get really excited about being back on the ice,” said Bertoli, who guided his team to a 4-1-1 record last year in an abbreviated season.

“Every game we are going to play this year is a league game or a conference game. That is exciting.”

The Gordon Conference which includes such formidable foes as Delbarton, Don Bosco, Bergen Catholic, and Seton Hall Prep, among
others, will provide some stern tests for the Panthers.

“Personally I think it is awesome, it is a perfect fit for us,” said Bertoli, whose team fell 3-2 to Pope John in its Gordon debut last Monday. more

BREAKING THE ICE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Nick Dimatos skates in a 2019 game. Post-graduate defenseman and co-captain Dimatos will be leading the blue line unit for the Raiders this winter. Last weekend, Hun started its season by going 3-1 in the Shady Side Academy Thanksgiving Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa. In upcoming action, the Raiders host Princeton Day School on December 1 and St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) on December 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Things were pretty bleak last winter for the Hun School boys’ hockey team as it only got to play three games due to COVID-19 concerns.

“There was a lot of anticipation for last year; you have these little windows where you can be pretty competitive and I think last year seemed like the pinnacle of one,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

“Everybody was very excited to play and then we didn’t; the air came out.”

Understandably, the Hun squad was very excited to start the 2021-22 season by heading to Pittsburgh, Pa., last weekend to compete in the Shady Side Academy Thanksgiving Classic where it played more games in three days than it did all season, going 3-1 at the event.

“Once we got on the ice here this season, the excitement was very high,” said McNally.

“People started looking around, saying wait a minute, we are going to be pretty good. The whole point of doing this tournament was to feel like we were hitting the ground rolling in December instead of it taking a couple weeks for you to get going. That is what we got out of it.”

After losing 5-2 to host Shady Side last Friday to open the season, Hun rebounded with a 7-2 win over the Blyth Academy (Ontario). more

ON GUARD: Hun School boys’ basketball player Dan Vessey, right, guards a foe in a 2019 game. Senior guard Vessey is looking to have a big final campaign at Hun. The Raiders were scheduled to tip off their 2021-22 season by hosting St. Benedict’s on November 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

A year ago, the Hun School boys’ basketball team started its preseason training outdoors on the school’s tennis courts as it wasn’t allowed to practice in the gym due to COVID-19 concerns.

As Hun got ready to tip-off its 2021-22 campaign by playing powerhouse St. Benedict’s on November 30, the Raider players were savoring the chance to be going through their paces inside the Shipley Pavilion.

“I think any way you cut it, we are so much further along than we were last year,” said Hun head coach Jon Stone who guided the Raiders to an 8-2 record in their abbreviated 2021 campaign.

“It is the thrill of playing every day, it has been great, the guys are really excited, as am I.”

Senior guard Jack Scott, who is headed to Princeton University next year to follow in the footsteps of his father, Joe Scott, a former hoops star and coach for the Tigers, is primed for a great season.

“Jack formally committed to the process at Princeton; he had a really big summer,” said Stone.

“It is a little bit of everything, he sees the floor really well, he is a really good passer. He has continued to grow, he is 6’5 now so just his size as a guard is a tremendous asset at both ends of the floor. Offensively, he has the ability to finish around the rim. Defensively, he can guard bigger players and guards.” more

WASHINGTON CROSSING: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Leila Washington brings the ball upcourt in a game last season. Sophomore guard Washington figures to emerge as a star for Stuart this winter. The Tartans were slated to start their 2021-22 campaign by hosting Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on November 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last few seasons, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team featured a formidable inside-outside punch.

With the pair of Ariel Jenkins and Laila Fair dominating in the paint and guards Nia Melvin and Aleah James starring on the perimeter, Stuart won three state Prep B titles from 2018-20 and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament final in 2020 for the first time in program history.

With that quartet having graduated and Jenkins playing at Georgetown, Fair at St. Joseph’s, James at LIU, and Melvin opting not to play at the college level despite a number of offers, the Tartans will have a radically different look this winter.

“Everyone is excited, we have a lot of new faces,” said Stuart head coach Justin Leith, who guided Stuart to a 7-6 record last winter in an abbreviated season.
“W
e have either inexperience or freshmen. It has been fun though as a coach, you are coaching different things, going back to more basic stuff. Even in a short amount of time, I am seeing them reaping the benefits of repetition. They are starting to get an understanding of the game which is exciting.”

As a result of the graduation losses, the Tartans will be employing an up-tempo style featuring interchangeable parts.

“We are tiny, we don’t have a backcourt or a frontcourt, we are just guards,” said Leith, who also lost valuable performers Catherine Martin and Molly Lagay to graduation. more

November 24, 2021

Members of the Princeton University football team celebrate after they defeated Penn 34-14 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia last Saturday to clinch a share of the Ivy League title. The Tigers ended up 9-1 overall and 6-1 Ivy to tie Dartmouth (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy) for the crown. It marked the fourth Ivy title in the last eight seasons for the program. For more details on the game, see page 32. (Photo by Mitchell Shields, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) at their November 15 meeting voted unanimously to recommend the creation of the Prospect Avenue Historic District as Princeton’s 21st historic district. The recommendation will go to the Princeton Planning Board and Princeton Council for approval in the coming months.

The proposed district, which includes 17 current and former undergraduate eating clubs, two residences, a monumental wall and gateway, and an apartment building, would extend from Washington Road to Murray Place. It would not include the academic buildings on the corner of Washington Road.

“The historic district designation would bring a very important level of protection to Prospect Avenue,” said Clifford Zink, a historic preservation consultant and author of The Princeton Eating Clubs. Properties included in a local historic district require review by the Princeton HPC for any alterations or additions visible from the street.

“The value of this district designation is not to freeze Prospect Avenue at some particular period, but rather to appropriately manage changes in the future so that they respect the historic significance of the street,” Zink added. “You want to manage the changes appropriately so that any changes respect history.”

The HPC resolution recommending the Prospect Avenue Historic District emphasizes the “unique and character-defining streetscape comprised of stately structures in residential appearance,” the embodiment of “many aspects of significant American and local history,” primarily involving “the eating clubs of Princeton University and the people who fostered, belonged to, worked for, associated with and even opposed them over seventeen decades since the 1850s even to the present day.” more

By Anne Levin

With the cancellation of last Saturday’s community meeting on permit parking, a work session on the subject, originally scheduled for Princeton Council’s Tuesday, November 22 meeting, was removed from the agenda.

Council President Leticia Fraga addressed the situation in remarks at the beginning of the meeting, citing “a campaign of misinformation” recently aired by the group SensibleStreets.org that challenges the goals of the Permit Parking Task Force, on which Fraga serves along with Council members Michelle Pirone Lambros and David Cohen.

The task force was “really blindsided just before the community meeting,” she said. “We felt we truly could not go on until we were able to respond to what’s being put out there, that is truly a lot of misinformation.”

Fraga said the task force is regrouping. “Expect to be hearing from us,” she said. “We have been, for almost three years, soliciting feedback and hearing from the community. Ultimately our goal has been to improve the quality of life for many of our residents whose parking needs are not being met. That’s our ultimate goal. It’s still our goal, and we will continue with those efforts. But we felt at first we needed to respond to basically the alternative facts that are being put out there, that are alarming many of our residents who will benefit from the proposed changes we are presenting to Council.”

The cancellation of the work session made for an unusually short meeting, during which some routine business was conducted. Council introduced six ordinances, one of which had to do with affordable housing, and another with the affordable housing overlay that reduces off-street parking requirements for developments in different areas of the town. The governing body also introduced ordinances having to do with the sanitary sewer system and the sewer storm system, plus the vacating of an unused municipal sanitary sewer easement at 100 and 101 Thanet Road. more

OFF TO A FAST START: Fifteen 3- and 4-year-olds are part of Princeton Public Schools’ (PPS) sixth free preschool classroom, which opened this fall at the Crimmins Learning Center at Princeton Community Village — a collaborative initiative of PPS, Princeton Community Housing, and the Princeton Family YMCA. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Family YMCA)

By Donald Gilpin

Fifteen children, ages 3 and 4, are attending a new free preschool classroom this fall at Princeton Community Village.

Princeton Family YMCA CEO Kate Bech commented on the partnership of Princeton Public Schools (PPS), Princeton Community Housing (PCH), and the YMCA that launched the preschool in September.  “It was a classic example of ‘It takes a village,’” she said. “Princeton can be a bit siloed, but this is a great example of what happens when we’re all working together to come up with solutions that work.”

She pointed out that 13 or 14 of the 15 preschool students are residents in affordable housing, from families with low income. “This program is essential to them, and it’s great to get them in this early, for their learning and for the long-term trajectory of their education.”

PPS’ sixth free preschool class, the new Crimmins Learning Center classroom at Princeton Community Village is using the same space where the YMCA has operated the Princeton Young Achievers after-school program since 2011.  The preschool runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the after-school program operates until 6 p.m. every day.  more

SAVING THE SOURLANDS: The destructive emerald ash borer is no match for the volunteers and staff from the Sourland Conservancy, who planted 10,000 trees over the past year to restore the forest and reduce the impact of ash decline caused by the insects.

By Anne Levin

In an unprecedented effort, a massive tree-planting project has helped save the Sourlands from the devastating effects of the invasive insect known as the emerald ash borer. This past year, a mix of volunteers and staff from nonprofits, land trusts, counties, and municipalities, as well as private residents, have managed to get 10,000 new trees into the ground at the 90-square-mile Sourland region.

“We’ve never done anything to this scale before,” said Carolyn Klaube, stewardship director of the small, nonprofit Sourland Conservancy. “But when we realized how many trees were dying because of the emerald ash borer, we knew we had to do something.”

The New Jersey Forest service alerted the Conservancy in March 2020 that, due to the insects, the region could lose more than 1 million trees within the next few years. That number represents approximately one of every five trees throughout the region, according to a press release.

It wasn’t just the emerald ash borer that caused havoc. In July, a tornado ripped through 230 acres of mature forest on Baldpate Mountain, already victim to the insects. Hurricanes Henri and Ida also left their mark, with flooding that “scoured streambeds and resulted in the loss of lives as well as serious damage to homes, farms, businesses, and natural areas throughout the region,” reads the release. “Trees help filter water, stabilize stream banks, and reduce stormwater runoff. The loss of 1 million trees is expected to exacerbate the effects of climate change, and could result in more serious flooding in the future.”

The Conservancy reached out and received help from the Mercer County Park Commission, Hopewell Valley Open Space, The Watershed Institute, D&R Greenway, and Montgomery Friends of Open Space, among other organizations. Students from the College of New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College, Princeton University, and Rutgers University pitched in. Seasonal interns were hired by the Conservancy for the first time, enlarging the staff by 30 percent. more

ON THE JOB: Shown at his current post at Snowden Lane and Abernathy Drive, Councilperson David Cohen recently decided to take on a shift as a crossing guard. The town is looking to fill 10 more vacancies that are currently being covered by police officers.

By Anne Levin

During the “announcements/reports” portion of the November 8 Princeton Council meeting, Council member David Cohen reported to his colleagues and the public that he had signed on as a crossing guard for the Princeton Police Department. His post, currently at Snowden Lane and Abernathy Drive, means one less police officer having to staff the town’s crossings and intersections as children make their way to and from local schools.

Cohen urged others to follow his lead and consider taking on the morning and afternoon shifts, which pay $15 for 30 minutes and $22 for 45 minutes. “It’s really a feel-good activity,” he said. “The kids and parents are really appreciative.”

Keeping the town staffed with crossing guards has been an ongoing challenge for the police department. Those who are hired have to be able to escort children across designated crossing zones, stop traffic efficiently in all weather conditions, be able to communicate with children and parents, report license plate number of vehicles that don’t slow down or stop where they should, report suspicious activity, report unsafe traffic conditions in school crossing zones, and more. more

ELECTRICITY FROM THE SUN: Solar panel installers from Exact Solar prepare to create a spark and light a candle from the sun’s energy, as Riverside School fourth graders and their teachers look on during a field trip where the students learned about solar panels, clean energy, and climate change. (Photo courtesy of Sustainable Princeton)

By Donald Gilpin

Riverside School fourth grade teacher Terry McGovern and local residents Ted and Jess Deutsch teamed up with solar panel installers from Exact Solar last Friday to provide McGovern’s 17 students with an encounter with a genuine global challenge and a learning experience they won’t soon forget.

“We were getting solar panels installed, and it was a great opportunity to educate the kids,” said Ted Deutsch, whose two children went to Riverside and who lives just across a field from the school. 

Deutsch contacted Riverside Principal Ebony Lattimer, who put him in touch with McGovern, who did not hesitate.  “Clean energy is of interest to children,” said McGovern. “They were eager to listen to something that is a real world issue. This was a hands-on experience. They learned about electricity and how solar panels work.”

The excitement of a field trip after 20 months of pandemic was also a significant attraction.  As one fourth grader noted, “Mr. McGovern, it’s been a long time since we’ve been on a field trip.”  more

By Stuart Michner

I’m a dark horse
Running on a dark race course…

—George Harrison (1943-2001)

According to Glyn Johns, engineer and producer of the Beatles’ famously fraught Get Back sessions, “If I was ever going to write a book about George, I would print out every lyric he ever wrote, and I guarantee you would find out exactly who he was. Beginning with ‘Don’t Bother Me,’ it’s all there, as plain as plain can be.”

In George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door (Overlook 2015), Graeme Thomson notes that “Don’t Bother Me” was “written out of sheer necessity” at a time when “the insatiable appetite of Beatlemania” was “really beginning to bite.” As someone who “would never be much inclined to float off and write about ‘newspaper taxis’ or ‘Maxwell’s silver hammer,’ “ and who was already “adept at writing about himself,” Harrison was “the first Beatle to write songs about being a Beatle.”

So there he was, at 20, the youngest member of a band dominated by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a compositional dynamo producing hit songs with titles like “Love Me Do,” “Please Please Me,” “Thank You Girl,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” and “From Me to You.” Laid up with a head cold while the Beatles were playing “a summer season in Bournemouth,” as he recounts in I Me Mine (Chronicle Books 1980, 2002), Harrison gamely sets about writing the first chapter of his own narrative, a subtext in song with a distinct point of view. While “Don’t Bother Me” is plotted around the standard she-left-me-on-my-own plotline, it comes across as a dispatch from the combat zone of Beatlemania by a singer with no interest in holding hands or making nice: “So go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me … don’t come near, just stay away.”  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra launched the second of its online fall performances last Wednesday night with a multi-media presentation of 19th-century music. Recorded last May at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and led by NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang, this concert focused on “A Woman’s Voice” in programmatic music, performance, and poetry. Although the Orchestra presented only three works, last Wednesday night’s performance was dense with text and backstories to the music, accompanied by poetry of local writers. Joining the Orchestra was one of opera’s great legends, soprano Renée Fleming.

French composer Georges Bizet’s four-movement suite L’Arlésienne (The Girl from Arles) originated as incidental music to a failed theatrical play.  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed the third movement “Adagietto,” scored for strings alone. Under Zhang’s direction, the strings of the Orchestra began the movement introspectively; with a smaller than usual ensemble of strings, the violins reached the heights of phrases well, with an especially lean melody from the first violins. The performance of this piece was preceded by a reading of the poem “Elizabeth, NJ” by New Jersey poet and artist Michelle Moncayo. 

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra introduced Richard Wagner’s romantic Siegfried Idyll with the poem “Convergence” by New Jersey native, poet and educator Jane Wong. Wagner, one of the towering composers of the 19th century, composed the one-movement Idyll as a “Symphonic Birthday Greeting” to his wife at the time. Zhang and the Orchestra began the piece with the same light touch heard in the Bizet work, with more strings and the addition of winds and brass. A solo line from flutist Bart Feller soared above the orchestral palette, complemented by pastoral solo playing from oboist Alexandra Knoll. Clarinetist Pascal Archer also provided expressive solo passages as the strings gracefully maneuvered repeated melodies and rhythmic patterns. A quartet of principal string players presented melodic lines well punctuated by solo horn player Christopher Komer, and conductor Zhang and concertmaster Eric Wyrick added a playful character to the music. Zhang brought the Idyll to a joyous close, aided by rich orchestration and playing of the German trumpets for which Wagner’s music is known.    more

“MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING”: Theatre Intime has staged a reimagined “Much Ado About Nothing,” presented November 12-21 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Directed by Katie Bushman, Shakespeare’s romantic comedy is transplanted to the era of World War I. Benedick (Solomon Bergquist, center left) and Beatrice (Cassy James, center right) have a bickersome courtship, which is jeopardized by an action taken by Claudio (Harit Raghunathan, left) at his wedding to Hero (Lauren Owens, second from left). Onlookers: Leonato (Hank Ingham, second from right) and Don Pedro (Alex Conboy, right). (Photo by Elliot Lee)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare has Balthasar, a musician, sing: “Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.” This world-weary comment, about the timelessness of dishonesty in relationships, would seem to offer directors latitude to reimagine the period in which this comedy is set.

Princeton University’s Theatre Intime has presented (from November 12-21) a production that takes advantage of this dramaturgical license. Director Katie Bushman transplants the play — first published in 1600 — to the end of the First World War.

This is clear as soon as the audience enters the theater. We hear popular songs of that period, including Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and, more thematically relevant, George M. Cohan’s “Over There.”

Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon (portrayed by Alex Conboy) returns home from winning a battle. With him are two of his soldiers: Claudio (Harit Raghunathan) and Benedick (Solomon Bergquist). The play is set at the home of a noble, Leonato (Hank Ingham); he invites the soldiers to stay for a month.  more

LIVE AND LIVE-STREAMED: Voices Chorale NJ performs its first in-person concert since the pandemic on December 17 at Trinity Church.

The first live and live-streamed concert of Voices Chorale NJ since December 2019 is scheduled for Friday, December 17 at 8 p.m. Featuring works based on the poetry of E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, and more, this concert includes holiday music along with sounds to soothe the soul after a long time apart.

Among the works on the program is Joan Szymko’s I Dream a World, based on Langston Hughes’ poem, imagining a world “where love will bless the earth and peace its paths adorn.” Sing Gently, composed by Eric Whitacre in March 2020, was written in a spirit to bring comfort to those who need it. Where Riches is Everlastingly is Bob Chilcott’s upbeat arrangement of a 16th century carol. Little Tree, based on a poem by E.E. Cummings, reflects the childlike wonder and excitement of dressing the Christmas tree, and Eight Days of Lights, by Judith Clurman, honors the Hanukkah celebration.

The concert is designed to explore diverse music that brings people together, as individuals with different beliefs, traditions, and tastes.

Singers and audience members will wear masks, and there is a streaming option for those who cannot join in person. Tickets are $15-$25. Visit voiceschoralenj.org.

Laquita Mitchell

Soprano and Westminster Choir College alumna Laquita Mitchell performs with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra at its Holiday POPS! concert on Tuesday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Matthews Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center.

Mitchell sings Giacomo Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi, Robert MacGimsey’s spiritual-inspired song “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” and an arrangement of “This Little Light of Mine.” Conducted by Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov, the program also includes dances from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Snow Maiden and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, plus Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves,” Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Blue Danube” waltz, and favorites including “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson.

“I’m excited to welcome Laquita Mitchell back to Princeton and have her be a part of our holiday celebration. Her performance will bring a poignancy to this year’s program as well as a note of hope to carry us through to the new year,” says Milanov.

Mitchell earned positive reviews for her début as Bess in Porgy and Bess with the San Francisco Opera. She reprised the role with opera companies and orchestras nationwide and with Grange Park Opera in the U.K. and the Lithuanian State Symphony. She recently performed the title role in Tom Cipullo’s Josephine with Opera Colorado, as well as The Promise of Living, a concert program she conceived. She appeared in New York Philharmonic’s Bandwagon concerts and the Kauffmann Music Center’s Musical Storefront series in spring 2021, and performed with the Columbus Symphony and Rhode Island Philharmonic. more

“LINE OF LIGHT”: This painting by Bill Jersey is part of “Sharing,” his exhibition with artists Laura Rutherford Renner, Heather Barros, and Larry Mitnick, on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville December 9 through January 22.

Artists Bill Jersey, Laura Rutherford Renner, Heather Barros, and Larry Mitnick  have announced the opening of their joint show, “Sharing,” on view  December 9 through January 22 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. The exhibit features  paintings by the four artists. An opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, December 11, from 1 to 3p.m.

“Sharing” invites viewers to pause, to see, to remember the beauty of the world that we share with you.

Residing in Hunterdon County,  Jersey says,  “I am surrounded by creeks, forests, fields, and hills — an abundance of scenes I want to capture or interpret on canvas. Over time, my paintings evolved from more realistic scenes of the natural world to more interpreted representations, using dramatic colors to evoke fresh perspectives. As a documentary filmmaker of many years, I learned to catch a moment in time and use it to tell a larger story. That is what I seek to capture in my paintings.” more

“GARDENS OLD AND NEW”: This work by Arsen Savadov and Georgii Senchenko is part of “Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985–1993,” on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University through March 13, 2022.

The exhibition “Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985–1993” explores the inventive new art styles by Ukrainian artists responding to a trying transitional period of perestroika (restructuring) during the collapse of the Soviet Union. On view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University through March 13, 2022, the exhibition highlights an explosion of styles, rediscovered histories, and newly found freedoms that blossomed against economic scarcity and ecological calamity, creating an effect of baroque excess.

Organized by guest research curator Olena Martynyuk, Ph.D. with assistance from Julia Tulovsky, Ph.D., the Zimmerli’s curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art, “Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993” is accompanied by a catalogue of the same title, co-published with Rutgers University Press.

An in-person exhibition reception is scheduled for February 26, 2022, with performances of Ukrainian musical pieces composed in the 1980s and early 1990s, recreating the cultural atmosphere of the time.  more