Corrections or additions?
This article by Elaine Strauss was prepared for the January 24,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Conducting by Musical Chairs
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra principal cellist Jonathan
Spitz puts himself and his performing skills on the line all the time,
U.S. 1 learned when we spoke with him two years ago.
Spitz, who grew up in Ridgewood and now lives in Bergenfield, is a
member of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the conductor-less orchestra
composed of virtuoso musicians. Founded in 1972 by cellist Julian
Fifer, the orchestra today boasts a 60-CD discography. Orpheus
with pianist Imogen Cooper at McCarter Theater on Tuesday, January
30, at 8 p.m. Cooper is featured in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17.
The program also features Aaron Copland’s "Three Latin American
Sketches," Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, and Anton Webern’s
Spitz remembers as a young child hearing his mother, a pianist,
recitals with a cellist "I first saw the instrument when I was
five," Spitz says, "and I couldn’t stop talking about it.
I was given a cello when I was seven, and was always real eager about
it. By the time I was 14, I knew that was where I had to go."
Spitz studied at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, the crucible of
instrumental performers. Except for a three-year hiatus, he has been
a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra since 1988. He made
his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in
1990 as winner of the Artists International Competition.
"I’ve always been open to anything that crosses my path that seems
interesting in ways not necessarily limited to the cello," Spitz
says. Married to Erica Kiesewetter, a freelance violinist active in
New York, they are parents of two children, one of them a serious
cello student. Yoga and golf are also part of his life.
Principal cellist of the NJSO since 1991, Spitz describes his duties,
first and foremost, as deciding on bowings. He is also concerned with
getting unanimity of phrasing within the cello section, and on
it effectively into the orchestra. "Sometimes the cellos accompany
a delicate wind passage, sometimes they take charge of the orchestra.
You must be responsive to what the orchestra is doing, and what the
conductor wants. The artistic guidance for a section is subservient
to the conductor’s needs, but it’s still a leadership role."
With Orpheus, the leadership changes from piece to piece. "Orpheus
is a great education because there’s no conductor," says Spitz.
"We each bring our vision of a piece to the orchestra, but you
have to move the rehearsal process along, and not just use rehearsal
as an ego trip. Orpheus has affected how I handle being principal
of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. The responsibilities are
You learn a certain combination of leadership and autonomy. My
in Orpheus reinforces the skills you need to keep a good sense of
time, but stay flexible."
Spitz also maintains flexible boundaries about the repertoire he
"The range of music I deal with," he says, "is the best
part of my life. It’s so big, it’s impossible to have any sense of
boredom or routine. The more that I do, the richer I feel
I love the standard orchestral repertoire, and my pleasure has
as I continue to play it. I love the chamber repertoire and the more
obscure works I play with Orpheus."
— Elaine Strauss
University Place, 609-258-2787. $37 & $40. Tuesday, January 30,
player. Call Big Joe at 509-499-2802.
help raise money for local charities. Registration and placement are
at the Allentown Presbyterian Church, Routes 539 and 524, on Friday,
January 26: children and teens from 6 to 7 p.m.; adults from 7:30
to 8:30 p.m. Also on Sunday, January 28, adults, teens and children
from 1 to 3 p.m. For information, visit www.ccchoir.com.
and backstage help from February 2 to 17. Speaking and non-speaking
parts, males and females 20s to 50s, will train stage hands. For
Call for Entries
About 1,000 participants in the fifth annual Run With Aimee 5K and
One Mile Ramble will receive shirts at the event scheduled for Sunday,
April 1, at Montgomery High School. Entries must be submitted to Run
With Aimee, c/o Schilke Construction, 301 Valley Road, Hillsborough,
08844. Website: www.runwithaimee.org. Deadline for entries is February
for craftsmen and artists for the juried show at Washington Crossing
State Park May 5 and 6. Proceeds will benefit the Women’s Heart
Three slides must accompany application. Deadline has been extended
to February 1. Applications are available at
or by calling 609-771-9600.
for its "Widowed, Divorced and Separated Weekend," February
2 to 4, in Elburon, NJ. Designed to help separated, widowed and
overcome pain and loneliness following loss of spouse, the event is
intense, self-reflective and spiritual. Beginning Experience is a
ministry that is open to people of all faiths. Call MaryAnn at
or Chuck at 732-364-9934.
basic acting techniques, fundamental improvisation, and creative
skills for students in fourth to eighth grades. Classes are Saturday
mornings, February 3 to March 24 , on the Douglass Campus. Cost: $100.
sponsoring "Power, Prayer, Praise," a day-long gospel music
workshop in celebration of Black History Month, at St. Ann’s Church,
Lawrenceville, on Saturday, February 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Led by
Clarence Boyer, professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, the program features a guided tour of the development of
gospel music from the 18th century to the present. In the performance
part of the workshop, Rodney Bradley of Our Lady of the Divine
Church, Trenton, and Roger Holland, of Calvary Baptist Church, Queens,
will teach traditional and contemporary gospel works. $10 fee. To
register, call Elli Ancrum, 609-394-3500.
martial arts training taught by Belinda Uckun, a black belt in Songahm
Taekwondo and a third degree black belt in American Karate. Kids
class on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.; and a teen and adult karate on
at 4:30 p.m. Register at 609-530-0979.
registration for their nursery school programs on Wednesday, January
31. Early drop-off, late-stay, lunch program, enrichment programs,
and Mommy & Me classes are also available. Pre-K classes meet Monday
through Fridays; three-year-olds meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
mornings; and two-and-a-half-year-olds meet Tuesday and Thursday
Call school director Fran Pearlson at 732-297-0295.
last August as an association of Garden State beer writers. Its
statement is "to promote quality craft beer brewed in New Jersey,
and to encourage its responsible consumption through education."
NJAB was organized by beer writers Gary Monterosso, Mark Haynie, Jim
Carlucci, Lew Bryson, and Kurt Epps. For more information go to:
for the 30th annual state pageant Friday, April 27 and continuing
through April 29 in Ocean City. Age divisions for the scholarship
event are junior: 12-15 and senior: 16-18. Deadline to enter if
15. Call 609-652-8216.
readers to join an art tour of Philadelphia, Friday, February 23.
Destinations include a tour of the Philadelphia Sketch Club by the
club president and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Lunch at
the Philadelphia Inn. Preregister, $66. Call 609-394-5310.
of children or adolescents with mental health issues. The support
groups are every 1st and 3rd Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the
Presbyterian Church, 1039 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville. Call
about "Conservation Trees" with information on how to plant
shade trees, how to prune them, and how to attract songbirds. For
the free booklet, send name and address to Conservation Trees,
Arbor Day Foundation, Nebraska City, NE 68410.
church groups, or individuals in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and
Washington D.C., to be considered for possible inclusion in "Best
of the Best from the Mid-Atlantic: Selected Recipes from Delaware,
New Jersey, Washington D.C." For information contact Barbara
editor, "Best of the Best State Cookbook Series," Quail Ridge
Press, 1-800-343-1583, www.quailridge.com.
seeks applicants over 18 years of age, with access to transportation
and a valid driver’s license. Background investigation including
and completion of a 40-hour training course beginning in January.
Contact Captain Kevin Pollard at 609-581-4035.
Domestic Violence Victim Response Team begins in spring 2001. Call
to participate in a committee designed to help improve the museum,
work with the community, and stay current with educational trends.
Corrections or additions?
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