Corrections or additions?
This article by Elaine Strauss was prepared for the September 10,
2003 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
From the Matterhorn: A View of the Musical Season
Looking forward to the 2003-’04 classical music season
in central New Jersey at a time adjacent to my annual hiking trip
to the Swiss Alps invites comparisons. One of my standard stops is
Zermatt, the burgeoning vacation center at the foot of the Matterhorn.
The monolithic Matterhorn has been stable since the ice age. However,
Zermatt has grown out from its original center as new places to
increasingly obscure the calling-card views of the Matterhorn.
On a promontory 2,000 feet above the town stands the massive five-star
Riffelalp Hotel, open for less than a year; it is a self-contained
community with its own sport facilities, concert hall, and meeting
rooms, served by a private spur from the mountain railway. Still moot
is the question of whether it can be successfully integrated into
the life of the area.
Apparently settled in for the long-term on Zermatt’s main street are
the relatively new McDonald’s, the French creperie, the one-hour photo
processing shops, and various clothing boutiques. But gone is the
long-present seafood store with the dramatic posters displaying
varieties of ocean and freshwater fish.
Towering over the current music scene in our area, since it has found
its muscle, is central Jersey’s musical Matterhorn, the New Jersey
Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), with 21 concerts scheduled for the Trenton,
Princeton, New Brunswick corridor. Offering performances at seven
locations in the state, the NJSO finds its heft reflected in its grant
of more than $1.4 million from the $16 million finally granted to
the New Jersey State Council on the Arts — the council’s largest
Every drop of arts funding in New Jersey was put in jeopardy beginning
in February, 2003, when Governor James E. McGreevey proposed wiping
out all funding to the 35-year-old agency that received $18 million
last year. Before the end of July, a large-scale and determined
by arts advocates, led by Artpride New Jersey and much of it conducted
via E-mail, convinced the legislature to change its mind. It reduced
the 2004 appropriation by just $2 million, for a total of $16 million.
The bright side of this cliff-hanger was the way that the governor
and the legislature worked together to create the hotel/motel room
occupancy fee, a brand-new, permanent source of annual revenue for
the arts and history. The law not only sustains the budget but
increases the arts council’s appropriation to $22.6 million next year
Once again, the NJSO sponsors a two-and-a-half-week
January festival, as it has since 1998. Building on its 2003 theme
of American musical roots, the orchestra concentrates on the music
of Antonin Dvorak, the Czech composer who lived in America for three
years in the 1890s. Zdenek Macal, the NJSO’s Czech-born director
leads the orchestral programs of the festival.
As problematical for the NJSO as the Riffelalp Hotel for Zermatt,
is the integration into its forces of 30 17th and 18th century string
instruments acquired from Herbert and Evelyn Axelrod and the payment
of their $18 million purchase price. The NJSO orchestra holds the
largest collection in the world of instruments of their vintage.
there are not enough violins, violas, and cellos for all the NJSO
string players. Each string section has worked out its own system
for rotating the instruments, which will be fully used in NJSO
for the first time in the 2003-2004 season.
The effectiveness of sharing the valuable instruments is yet to be
seen. They are often compared to spirited horses, responsive to the
wishes of a master, but unmanageable by someone less skilled. NJSO
string players who have used the Axelrod instruments give them a mixed
review. Some players find an instant fit with an instrument. Others,
finding no immediate gratification, discover that it takes time to
get to know the instrument, and that the physical demands of managing
it are greater than the physical demands needed with a lesser
Just as expansion in Zermatt takes place away from the center of the
village, innovations in our area take place primarily outside
A prime place to look for new initiatives is New Brunswick, at both
Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts (MGSA), and the State Theater.
Mason Gross offers a new series in the form of master classes given
by artists whose names are household words among concertgoers. Cellist
Fred Sherry (October 14), clarinetist David Shifrin (December 1),
and cellist David Finckel (February 17) publicly show their
skills. The master class can be a rewarding art form when students,
supple on their instruments, respond instantaneously to the advice
of seasoned performers. Admission is free.
MGSA appears to be exploding with performances this
season. Among the groups giving concerts are the Rutgers University
Orchestra, led in instrumental works, some with soloists, by its new
conductor, Kynan Johns (five programs); the Rutgers Philharmonia,
an ensemble of students and young community musicians (two programs);
the Rutgers Children’s Orchestra (one program); the Rutgers Symphony
Band; baroque ensembles; Helix, the contemporary music group; opera
workshops; and the Rutgers University Percussion Ensemble, led by
director She-e Wu.
The Percussion Ensemble stands out as an innovative group. During
the summer Wu, a small and energetic woman, directed them in a
outdoor program that commandeered as instruments lampposts and other
objects able to withstand the blows of a variety of drumsticks. It
is to be expected that they perform with equal imagination indoors
in the fall and winter.
New Brunswick’s State Theater, in addition to presenting its normal
quota of events for its 1,800-seat venue, spills over this season
into the nearby 300-seat Crossroads with an intriguing series of some
20 adventurous programs. Instrumental and vocal artists are drawn
from Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Turkey, and the United
States. Styles include traditional folk music, traditional
music, Afro-Caribbean pieces, blues, jazz, and ragtime.
Some of the State @ Crossroads groups are impossible to classify.
Outstanding among them is the prize-winning "eighth
a sextet composed of clarinet, flute, violin, cello, piano, and
The contemporary music performed by the group is fresh, lean and
even on first hearing.
Active as New Brunswick is with new presentations, innovation is not
absent in Princeton. The Institute for Advanced Study’s
program offers four concerts that rarely select music from before
1950 in its intimate Wolfensohn Hall. In addition, "Wet Ink,"
a selection of previews from an opera-in-progress by
Jon Magnussen, provides a pre-premiere view of an evolving work.
Musicals & Operas
Like the relatively new enterprises in Zermatt, operas
and musicals, once not much in evidence, increasingly find their way
into the programs of presenters. The most adventurous opera
this season is at Westminster Choir College of Rider University (WCC),
where Heinrich Marschner’s 1828 work, "Der Vampyr," plays
October 30 through November 2, encircling Halloween; and Mark Adamo’s
"Little Women," which premiered in 1998, runs April 29 to
Marschner, composer of 23 operas and singspiels, wrote "Der
when all of Europe was reading Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s
Its central character is Lord Ruthven, an aristocrat-vampire, who
destroys those in his circle.
Adamo’s’ "Little Women," based on the American classic by
Louisa May Alcott, is his first opera. The work is gradually finding
its way into the opera repertory. Originally scheduled to be presented
last year at WCC, the performance had to be canceled because of
Italian and French operas make up the remainder of the opera offerings
in central New Jersey. New Brunswick’s State Theater includes four
operas on its roster: Mozart’s "Don Giovanni (October 3),
"Lucia di Lamermoor" (November 1), Verdi’s "La Traviata"
(February 7), and Mascagni’s "Cavalleria Rusticana," along
with Leoncavallo’s "Pagliacci" (March 2). Boheme Opera
Bizet’s "Carmen" (October 24 and 26) and Rossini’s "Barber
of Seville" (April 23 and 25). Rutgers’ Mason Gross School offers
Gounod’s "Romeo and Juliet" (April 29).
Musicals are on the program at Princeton’s McCarter Theater and at
New Brunswick’s State Theater. The State provides eight:
(September 5-14), "The Music Man" (October 17-18).
Big Party" (October 19), "Kiss Me Kate" (January 16-17),
"Seussical, The Musical" (March 5-6), "The Sound of
(April 15), "Fame" (April 28), "Cats" (April 30-May
1), and "H.M.S. Pinafore" (May 8).
Of the three musicals at McCarter two are by Gilbert and Sullivan:
"Iolanthe" (January 31) and "H.M.S. Pinafore"
1). McCarter bills a "My Fair Lady," reconceived for just
10 performers, from May 4 to June 27.
Gone in central New Jersey, like the fish store in Zermatt, are winter
performances by the New York baroque group "Concert Royal."
However, other baroque fare is available: The season of Triomphe de
l’Amour takes place at Princeton’s Unitarian Church and the Dryden
Ensemble performs in Richardson Auditorium.
Other baroque programs include McCarter’s part two of a Bach Concerto
Festival with pianist Peter Serkin (October 28), Musica Antiqua
(November 17), and the complete Brandenburg Concerti performed by
the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (December 15). At
Auditorium, Artek, an original instrument ensemble devoted to Venetian
music is among the Princeton University concerts (March 11).
Choir College presents baroque music for organ and brass (December
The incomparable American Boychoir gives four concerts open to the
public in the immediate Princeton area: Choral Evensong at St.
Episcopal Church in Trenton (September 28), holiday concerts at the
Princeton University Chapel (December 21), and at Richardson
(December 21), and a church service and concert at Red Bank’s First
Presbyterian Church (March 7).
Princeton University Concerts season opens September
25 with the American String Quartet with David Jolly, horn, and
Tree, viola. The full season includes three concerts by the Richardson
Chamber Players, a lecture on the Beethoven string quartets by
and author Scott Burnham (October 22), a round-table discussion on
"What is Latin American About Latin American Music?" (March
31), followed the next day by a concert by the Cuarteto Latinoamerican
There is a generous four-concert jazz season with concerts by Anthony
D.J. Branker (November 8), the Bob Mintzer Big Band (February 6),
Bobby Sanabria (February 7), and Ray Vega (May 1).
Princeton Pro Musica
Princeton Pro Musica celebrates its 25th silver
season under director and founder Frances Fowler Slade beginning on
November 1 at Richardson Auditorium with Beethoven’s Symphony No.
9. Its well-loved "Messiah" performances will be December
20 at Richardson and December 21 at the Trenton War Memorial. Spring
concerts include a program of gospel music and spirituals on February
29 at Princeton High School and a reprise of Carl Orff’s Carmina
on May 2 at Richardson.
Solo instrumentalists in the combined season’s plans of all the groups
considered tend to be pianists (11 of them by a quick, and perhaps
inaccurate, count) and violinists (six of them). Only one solo cellist
appears. He is Jonathon Spitz, who solos in the NJSO’s Dvorak festival
The most exotic soloist of the season is Peter Odrekhivsky, who plays
in an accordion concerto with the Princeton Symphony (January 18).
Only slightly less exotic is the piccolo-trumpeter Wolfgang Bausch,
who plays a piece composed expressly for his difficult instrument
by Paul Sheffield. Sheffield joins Bausch at the piano. The PSO is
known for its adventuresome programming, and that motivation shows
throughout its five-concert season.
There are a number of repeaters in the 2003-’04 season. Pianist
Ohlsson solos with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Richardson
(October 24) and gives a recital at McCarter (May 17). Orpheus, the
conductor-less orchestra, plays at the State Theater (December 3)
and at McCarter (May 10). "H.M.S. Pinafore," performed by
the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, can be heard at McCarter
(February 1) and at the State Theater (May 8). The Irish fusion group
The Chieftains appear at the State Theater (March 10) and at McCarter
(March 11). Sergio and Odair Assad, classical guitarists, play in
the State @ Crossroads series (September 25) and solo, in the company
of violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, with the New Jersey Symphony
Orchestra in a new triple concerto (November 28).
To reduce concert-going to fit busy schedules a number of presenters
offer the option of selecting fewer programs than their entire season.
The groups offering choose-your-own series options are McCarter
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony (chamber music
Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, and New Brunswick’s State
Theater @ Crossroads series. We have a wealth of musical offerings
in our area, vastly more than could be squeezed into a mountain
NJSO in Princeton
Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, 800-ALLEGRO. Also including works
by Britten, White, and Haydn. Garrick Olhsson, piano. Jane Glover
conducts. $15 to $55. Friday, October 24, 8 p.m.
and Violin. Also Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Sergio and Odair Assad,
guitars. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin. Carlos Kalmar conducts.
$19 to $59. Friday, November 28, 8 p.m.
and Schumann. Jeffrey Kahane conducts. $15 to $55. Friday, January
2, 8 p.m.
Eroica Trio. Erika Nickrenz, piano. $25. Friday, January 16, 8
featuring Markus Groh, piano. Stefan Sanderling conducts. $21 to $79.
Friday, March 12, 8 p.m.
NJSO at State Theater
State Theater, Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 800-ALLEGRO. Mozart’s
Piano Concerto No. 24 and Stravinsky’s "Petrouchka." Stewart
Goodyear, piano. Marco Parisotto conducts. $17 to $69. Thursday,
October 2, 8 p.m.
Overture. Cornelius Eberhardt conducts. $17 to $69. Thursday,
13, 8 p.m.
Concerto featuring Jonathan Spitz, cello. Zdenek Macal conducts. $17
to $69. Thursday, January 8, 8 p.m.
Concerto and Symphony No. 8 with Gil Shaham, violin. Zdenek Macal
conducts. $21 to $79. Sunday, January 18, 3 p.m.
Brahms’ Violin Concerto. Leonidas Kavakos, violin. Bernhard Klee
$17 to $69. Sunday, February 1, 3 p.m.
Haydn, and Elgar. Lawrence Foster conducts. $21 to $79. Sunday,
March 21, 3 p.m.
Opera Singers in excerpts from Strauss’ "Salome." George
conducts. $17 to $69. Thursday, May 13, 8 p.m.
NJSO in Trenton
Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Trenton, 800-ALLEGRO.
"Romance for Violin in E." Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts.
September 12, 8 p.m.
Night’s Dream and other Shakespeare-inspired pieces. Nicholas McGegan
conducts. $17 to $69. Saturday, October 11, 8 p.m.
Yakov Kreizberg conducts. $17 to $69. Friday, November 21, 8
concert led by K. Geoffrey Fairweather. $15 to $64. Saturday,
13, 8 p.m.
Concerto. Jonathan Spitz, cello. Zdenek Macal conducts. $17 to $69.
Saturday, January 10, 8 p.m.
the New World." Tzimon Barto, piano. Zdenek Macal conducts. $21
to $79. Friday, January 23, 8 p.m.
in a romantic program of vocal jazz. $15 to $64. Friday, February
13, 8 p.m.
theme of Paganini." Kristjan Jarvi conducts. $17 to $69.
February 28, 8 p.m.
"Beatlemania." $15 to $64. Friday, March 26, 8 p.m.
by Bach, Bruch, and Brahms. Gilbert Varga conducts. $21 to $79.
April 16, 8 p.m.
to $64. Friday, April 30, 8 p.m.
Singers in excerpts from Strauss’ "Salome." $17 to $69.
May 15, 8 p.m.
Rodgers, Berlin, and many more. $15 to $64. Friday, May 21, 8
NJSO in WW-P
West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, Plainsboro, 800-ALLEGRO.
Family concert with music by Bernstein, Dvorak, Hindemith, and
$14 to $19. Sunday, November 2, 2 p.m.
February 15, 2 p.m.
Puppets. $14 to $19. Sunday, May 2.
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
series $50 to $165.
season with a program featuring guest soloist Wolfgang Basch on
trumpet. Program features works by Raff, Schoenfield, and Berlioz.
21, 4 p.m.
violin, in works by Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. November
9, 4 p.m.
holiday favorites, special guests, and the annual sing-along. Guest
performers include New Jersey Tap Ensemble and the Princeton High
School chorus. $24 adult; $12 child. December 14, 4 p.m.
Odrekhivsky, accordion, in Koprowski’s "Accordion Concerto,"
with works by Schumann, Bach, and Poulenc. January 18, 4 p.m.
piano, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, with a concerto
by Heinichen and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. March 14, 4 p.m.
by guest soloist Vladimir Ovchinnikov, piano, in Rachmaninoff’s Piano
Concerto No. 2, with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, "From the New
April 25, 4 p.m.
PSO at State Theater
graced the opera stages of New York and beyond join the orchestra
in presenting a festive program of Puccini, Mozart, Lehar, and Strauss
opera and light opera favorites. Mark Laycock, music director. $25
to $55. December 31, 8 p.m.
PSO in Montgomery
Arts, Skillman, 609-497-0020. Concerts at 4 p.m. $20. October 19,
November 23, December 7, January 11, February 8, March 7, April 11.
Princeton University Concerts
the American String Quartet with David Jolley, horn, and Michael Tree,
viola, in a program of works by Haydn, Mozart, and Brahms. September
25, 8 p.m.
Michael Pratt and Nathan Randall, present "Demi-Sec!", music
of Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc. October 12, 3 p.m.
features the Guarneri String Quartet in an all-Beethoven program.
October 23, 8 p.m.
of Haydn, Schubert, and Korngold. November 6, 8 p.m.
presents works of Schumann, Granados, Tchaikovsky, and others. January
15, 8 p.m.
Field, Schubert, Chopin, and Beethoven. February 19, 8 p.m.
Michael Pratt and Nathan Randall, presents "Ancient Voices,"
featuring works by George Crumb and others. February 29, 3 p.m.
and Death Revisited" featuring 17th-century instrumental and vocal
works of Monteverdi, Merula, Castello, and others. March 11, 8 p.m.
Revueltas, and Ginastera. April 1, 8 p.m.
America by the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Free. April 3, 10:30 a.m.
of Latin America," featuring works by Carlos Chavez, Alberto
Silvestre Revueltas. May 9, 3 p.m.
a program of works by Haydn, Mozart, and Brahms. May 12, 8 p.m.
by Princeton’s jazz faculty. November 8, 8 p.m.
works by Grammy Award winning saxophist Bob Mintzer. February 6, 7
Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble. February 7, 8 p.m.
and flugelhorn. May 1, 8 p.m.
$20 to $55.
with music direction by Joseph Pucciatti. Sung in French with English
supertitles. Pre-curtain talk in theater at 6:45 p.m. Friday, October
24 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, October 26, at 3 p.m. October 24, 8 p.m.
with English supertitles. Friday, April 23, at 8 p.m., and Sunday,
April 25, at 3 p.m.
the supernatural. October 3, 8 p.m.
Beethoven. Murray Perahia conducts. October 16, 8 p.m.
the bonds of politics and family in this Italian opera. November 1,
Vladimir Fedoseyev conducts. November 7, 8 p.m.
the conductor-less orchestra in a program of works by Mendelssohn
and Berlioz. December 3, 8 p.m.
Bartok featuring Helene Grimaud, piano. January 31, 8 p.m.
passion, jealousy, adultery, and revenge. March 12, 8 p.m.
31, 8 p.m.
May 6, 8 p.m.
Mason Gross School
New Brunswick, 732-932-7511.
on the 18th-century clarinet. Free. September 24, 12:30 p.m.
debut in a program featuring "Don Juan" by Strauss, Respighi’s
"Pines of Rome," and the Mendelssohn Piano Concert No. 1.
$25. October 3, 8 p.m.
features a performance of Dick Higgins’ "The Thousand
and "Haydn in the Forest" conducted by new music pioneer
Corner, with Paul Hoffmann on piano. Free. October 4, 8 p.m.
$10. October 10, 8 p.m.
by Beethoven, Haydn, and Rosetti. Free. October 11, 8 p.m.
October 12, 2 p.m.
14, 1 p.m.
17, 8 p.m.
and Tom Goldstein, percussion performing newly commissioned works
by Robert Morris and Riccardo Piacentini. Free. October 21, 8 p.m.
in Haydn, Symphony 88; Beethoven, Symphony No. 3; and Mozart, Piano
Concerto in D Minor. Grace Chung is soloist. $20. November 1, 8 p.m.
7, 8 p.m.
Scott Whitener. $10. November 15, 8 p.m.
16, 2 p.m.
21, 8 p.m.
December 1, 4 p.m.
performs. Free. December 4, 8 p.m.
Le Tombeau de Couperin; Kabalevsky, Violin Concerto; and Bartok,
for Orchestra. Kynan Johns conducts. $20. December 5, 8 p.m.
and young community musicians. $15. December 6, 8 p.m.
8, 8 p.m.
December 9, 8 p.m.
February 27, 8 p.m.
his debut session. $20. March 7, 2 p.m.
April 3, 8 p.m.
Choir . $20. April 17, 8 p.m.
April 18, 2 p.m.
his debut session. $20. April 23, 8 p.m.
April 27, 8 p.m.
April 28, 8 p.m.
30, 8 p.m.
composed of student and young community musicians. $15. May 1, 8 p.m.
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