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

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, McCarter Theater, 91

University Place, 609-258-2787. $37 & $40. Tuesday, January 30,

8 p.m.


Herd of Blues is auditioning for a great blues guitar

player. Call Big Joe at 509-499-2802.

Community Christian Choirs are looking for singers to

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

Omicron Theater Productions has open auditions for actors

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 609-443-5598.

Call for Entries

Run With Aimee T-shirt design contest is seeking


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: Deadline for entries is February


Washington Crossing Craft Festival seeks applications

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.

Participate Please

Beginning Experience of Trenton is accepting registrants

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.

The Shoestring Players winter drama program for kids


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.

Call 732-932-9772.

The Office of Black Apostolate, Diocese of Trenton, is

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.

Innovative Dance Academy offers eight-week sessions in

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.

JCC of North & South Brunswick Nursery School has


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.

The New Jersey Association of Beerwriters (NJAB) was


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:

New Jersey National Teenager Pageant is accepting


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.

Friends of the New Jersey State Museum invite interested

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.

NAMI Mercer announces their free support groups for


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


The National Arbor Day Foundation has published a booklet

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.

Quail Ridge Press seeks cookbooks published by


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,

Volunteer Alert

Hamilton Township Domestic Violence Victim Response Team

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.

Training program for volunteers for the Lawrence Township

Domestic Violence Victim Response Team begins in spring 2001. Call


The Wonder Museum in East Windsor is seeking volunteers

to participate in a committee designed to help improve the museum,

work with the community, and stay current with educational trends.

Call 609-371-6150.

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