Fully-staged opera in the Princeton area this summer ranges from a

work more than 200 years old to one that includes music written during

this year’s Memorial Day weekend. The venerable work is Mozart’s "Cosi

Fan Tutte," which premiered in 1790; the new material is a 90-second

addition to composer Michael Ching’s 1996 "Buoso’s Ghost."

Not yet 50, Ching is the younger of the two living creators of opera

whose work is presented in Princeton this summer. The other living

composer is Gian Carlo Menotti, who is 94. We talked to Ching because

there are some novel aspects about his entry in the summer’s opera

entertainment and because reaching him in Memphis, Tennessee, was

easier than tracking down Menotti, who lives in Scotland.

New Jersey Opera Theater presents both "Cosi" and "Ghost," along with

Puccini’s "Gianni Schicchi" and Donizetti’s "L’Elisir d’Amore" in an

all-comedy three-production season at McCarter’s Berlind Theater from

Friday, July 7, to Sunday, July 23. The one-act "Ghost" appears on a

double bill with Puccini’s one-act "Gianni Schicchi," to which it is a

sequel. "Gianni Schicchi" was originally a component of Puccini’s trio

of one-act operas known as "Il Trittico." Ching separated "Schicchi"

from the other two pieces in order to combine it with "Ghost." NJOT

singers will preview the four operas at Princeton Public Library on

Wednesday, June 21.

Supplementing its 15 full-length opera evenings this summer, NJOT

offers additional musical theater programs. "Mozart and Friends" takes

place Saturday, July 15, at 2, and "Puccini, Verdi and Friends takes

place on Saturday, Saturday, July 22, in the Berlind Theater. "Musical

Theater Under the Stars" takes place at Pettoranello Gardens, Friday,

June 30, and Saturday, July 1 at 8:30 p.m.

Tragedy – operawise – comes to the area with Puccini’s "Madama

Butterfly," offered by the Princeton Festival in three weekend

performances, Saturdays, June 24 and July 1, and Sunday, July 9 at the

Lawrenceville School. Artistic director Richard Tang-Yuk will present

a preview of the opera with principal singers performing selections on

Thursday, June 15, at Princeton Public Library.

On Saturday, July 1, the Festival also presents Gian Carlo Menotti’s

chamber opera, "The Old Maid and The Thief," a comedy, and the first

opera written specifically for radio. The performance on WWFM is open

to a live studio audience. In addition to opera the festival also

includes orchestral, chamber music, and jazz programs (see music story

on page 30).

And if you want to hear more budding opera stars: On Wednesdays, July

12 and 26; Fridays, July 14, 21, and 28; and Saturday, July 29, the

rising stars of the coOPERAtive program at Westminster, an opera

training program for singers 19 and older, present a free recital in

Bristol Chapel.

In advance of the NJOT performances, composer Ching comes to New

Jersey Tuesday and Wednesday, June 20 and 21, to help prepare "Buoso’s

Ghost" for its eighth performance. Michael Scarola directs the piece;

James Caraher conducts. Scarola and Caraher collaborated for the

Indianapolis performance of the work in 1999. "I don’t expect to have

to do much," says Ching in a telephone interview from his Tennessee

office, where he is artistic director of Opera Memphis. Followers of

the recently defunct New Jersey Opera Festival have seen Ching conduct

"Madama Butterfly" (1999), "Carmen" (2000), and "Turandot" (2001) for

that company. He will not be on hand for the Berlind Theater

performances of "Ghost." They conflict with his commitment to conduct

"The King and I" in Honolulu.

In "Gianni Schicchi," the opera to which "Buoso’s Ghost" is a sequel,

Buoso Donati has died, discreetly poisoned by his family. The family

is dismayed to find that he has left his wealth to a monastery, rather

than to them. They engage the scoundrel Gianni Schicchi to impersonate

the late Buoso and write a new will. Schicchi tricks the family by

rewriting the will so that he, and not the family, is the beneficiary.

Ching’s "Buoso’s Ghost" takes up the story seconds after Buoso’s

death, grafting a sequel onto the 1918 work. Indeed, the final bars of

"Schicchi" comprise the opening music of "Ghost." Composer Ching calls

the combination of one-act operas, which requires only a single stage

set, "elegant in its producibility." He points out that Puccini’s "Il

Trittico," the set of three operas of which "Schicchi" is one, is a

strong piece that is difficult to produce, except for the biggest

opera companies, because it requires three different stage sets. "I

treat the two one-acters as one opera in two acts," director Scarola

told U.S. 1 (February 22, 2006).

In "Buoso’s Ghost" the enraged relatives, who had poisoned Buoso,

attempt to avenge themselves. They accuse Schicci of the poisoning.

However, he has forged a suicide note, which he leaves on Buoso’s

body. As the relatives plan to murder Schicchi, he blows out the

candles, summons the ghost of Buoso, and scares the family from the

house.

"Practically the only negative criticism I got about the opera was

from people who felt it should be a little longer," Ching says. He

considered expanding the piece only modestly. "I didn’t want the

expansion to seem extraneous. I wanted it to be taut, with people

wishing for more, not looking at their watches.

"There was something I thought I could add to help the audience figure

out what happened. Fairly early in `Gianni Schicchi,’ the family

poisons Buoso, but it’s not played up. I devised a way to make the

poisoning obvious in `Buoso’s Ghost.’" The addition will be done for

the first time in the Princeton performance.

Also new is the east coast premiere of "Buoso’s Ghost" with a full

orchestra. An earlier New York performance used only piano as

instrumental support.

Ching’s writing of the opera was a by-product of a breakfast

conversation in Chicago when Memphis Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and

Chautauqua Opera were conducting joint auditions. "We were shooting

the breeze about the idea of sequels. We wondered what happened to

Alfredo and Giorgio after `La Traviata’ ends: Does Alfredo forgive

Giorgio for persuading Violetta to abandon him? What happens to Madame

Butterfly’s child? I was the only composer in the crowd, so I took on

the project of a sequel to `Gianni Schicchi,’" says Ching.

The libretto for "Ghost" was Ching’s own work. "I’m a student of

Carlisle Floyd," he says by way of explanation. Floyd, composer of

"Susannah," told U.S. 1 (April 26, 2006), "I would be much too cranky

with someone else as a librettist." Ching is less testy than Floyd

about working with a librettist and has had another person provide his

lyrics. However, having conducted and produced "Gianni Schicchi" and

knowing "Ghost" links up to that work, Ching thought he was

particularly well-qualified for the job.

Born in Honolulu in 1958, Ching started composing as a child and says

that he became serious about composing by the time he reached high

school. Before attending high school, he had already studied

composition formally at the Interlochen Music School in northern

Michigan, and had had private composition instruction.

Ching’s father, an accomplished amateur pianist, was a college

professor in theater and speech. "He played everything from Chopin to

Dave Brubeck transcriptions," Ching says. "He wanted to go into music

but his family discouraged him." There was music in the family,

however. Ching’s great uncle was one of the first Asians to play

violin in what became the Honolulu Symphony. Ching’s mother, a

homemaker, was from the Chicago area.

Ching started piano at about six. He studied flute, violin, and oboe,

mostly to learn to write music. Duke University’s undergraduate

scholarship in composition attracted him after high school. At Duke he

studied with Scottish composer Iain Hamilton and Robert Ward, composer

of "The Crucible." Graduating in 1980, his senior project was a

one-act opera retelling a vampire story set in New Orleans.

Immediately after graduating he worked at the Houston Opera Studio

with Carlisle Floyd. He has been involved with opera ever since as a

composer and administrator. After posts at Florida Grand Opera,

Virginia Opera, and Chautauqua, he joined Memphis Opera as artistic

director in 1992.

Ching’s wife is a professor of English at the University of Memphis.

The couple has a seven-year-old daughter.

As both an administrator and a composer Ching understands how the two

areas impinge on each other. He shared his insights with New Music

Box, the online music presence in a December, 2003, article. Today he

stands behind what he wrote at the time. "Being a composer and running

Opera Memphis is fraught with contradictory impulses. On the one hand,

one feels instinctively the desire to explore and support new

projects; on the other, survival seems to dictate a steady diet of

standard repertoire."

He is skeptical of excellent productions as an engine of creativity

for opera. "It’s strange to say, but I think the emphasis on high

quality productions has hurt the creation of new work. Back in the

19th century, production quality wasn’t as important, and I think that

helped more new work reach the stage. Over in Nashville, hundreds of

songs get written in order for a couple to become hits. A similar kind

of churn and creative investment would be much healthier for opera.

"Probably the best thing about running an opera company as a composer

is that I know hundreds of members of the audience and when I write, I

can write with a clear idea of who they are. It’s similar to writing

for a particular performer or ensemble – it has an impact on the way

you write."

So far, Ching has written six operas. His most recent work, "Corps of

Discovery," commissioned by the University of Missouri for the

commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark

expedition, is a full-length opera.The other five are one-act works.

"It’s a practical thing," he says. "I don’t think it’s a good idea to

do a big, long full-length opera that takes three or four years of

your life." Even with the work he did over Memorial Day Weekend,

"Buoso’s Ghost" cost him nowehere near that much time.

Summer Arts: Theater

by LucyAnn Dunlap

After the cancellation of last summer’s season because of difficulties

finding a place to perform, Princeton Rep is back in business with

what the company feels is their talisman play, Shakespeare’s "Twelfth

Night." The company, a mix of Equity and non-Equity actors under the

direction of Princeton Rep stalwart founder Victoria Liberatori, will

perform Thursdays through Sundays, July 20 through August 27, at

Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater, Community Park North in Princeton.

Founded in 1984 the company presented during its first years free

Shakespeare in Palmer Square, with each production drawing bigger and

bigger crowds. Their exceedingly popular production of "Twelfth Night"

caught the attention of Princeton Borough mayor Marvin Reed, who

suggested they move to the larger space at Pettoranello Gardens where

they brightened the summers until last year.

Happily, they’re back this summer with the same play that brought them

luck before. As a theater patron noted in a recent E-mail to the

company, "Thank you for working out your differences and returning to

Pettoranello Gardens. Whenever we the people are deprived of your

incredible program, we are the losers. You have introduced a whole new

generation to appreciate Shakespeare; that’s an incredible gift."

Liberatori will direct this "Twelfth Night," featuring some returning

actors (Nell Gwynn, "Much Ado About Nothing," 2004; and Donald Kimmel,

"King Lear," 2002,) as well as some new to the company. The play was

written by Shakespeare at the height of his career, well liked during

his time, and continues to be a popular choice for contemporary

producers.

Set in the Kingdom of Ilyria, it begins with Orsinio listening to

music and pining for love. Liberatori will build on this musical

introduction, adding original music as the plots progress. Yes, there

are mistaken identities, a girl disguised as a boy, misdelivered

letters, separated twins – the usual complications of Shakespeare’s

comedies. Viola loves Orsinio; Orsinio loves Olivia; and Olivia loves

Cesario. At the same time, the local "characters" – raucous Sir Toby,

silly Sir Andrew Aguecheek, feisty Maria, and dour Malvolio – interact

with merry and not-so-merry hijinks. In the end all ends well except

for poor old Malvolio.

Liberatori is noted for enlivening her productions, cutting where

useful, and making Shakespeare accessible to a wide family audience.

Bringing new blood to Princeton Rep, the young director Alexandra

Hoge, 32, joins Liberatori as co-producing artistic director. Hoge

first worked with the company during the 2004 season as an assistant

producer and an assistant director. With a fresh perspective, new

ideas, and theater connections, she says, "I can relate to younger

people. After all, I’m not that far away from their age group."

Hoge brings a wide range of experience, all the more impressive

because of her age. She was born in then-communist Romania but her

family was able to come to United States when Hoge was three years

old. "Getting out of Romania was difficult, rough going," she says in

a phone interview. Her father is a lawyer and her mother works in a

law firm, though she had wanted to be an opera singer – under the

communist regime, she was unable to follow that dream.

Hoge grew up with her family in the Washington, D.C., area. She seems

to have inherited her mother’s artistic bent. After graduating in 1997

from George Washington University with a bachelors in dramatic

literature, she worked in the D.C. area and a few places further

afield as a stage manager and directing small shows. "I didn’t know

that I wanted to go into directing until after I graduated from

college."

Following a "life-long dream" she went to Paris "to investigate the

theater scene." She took various theater classes at small ateliers

that taught private classes but was disappointed with the theater that

she saw there, other than work by British director Peter Brook and

Romanian director Gabor Tompa.

Returning from abroad, she embarked the Masters of Fine Arts program

at the Actors Studio Drama School, which until May, 2005, was

associated with the New School University (it is associated now with

Pace University.) Some readers may be familiar with the television

program "Inside the Actors Studio," the Bravo program hosted by James

Lipton. On the program Lipton interviews actors and directors with

probing as well as lighter questions – "What is your favorite curse

word?" – followed by a Q&A between the guest and the student audience

(it is a required course for first-year students – Hoge says her

favorites were Martin Sheen and Robert Redford). Hoge was awarded an

MFA in directing in 2005.

After some free-lance directing she found her way to Princeton Rep.

She says her new role to invigorate the company "is an opportunity to

work on an exciting project and gain valuable experience. I love

directing, and I’ve always been involved the artistic side of things,

but to be a really good director and theater artist, you need to

understand all aspects of the theater, especially the business side,

including promotion and fundraising. This is a great opportunity for

me to grow and understand."

Included in Hoge’s multitude of duties (she and Liberatori are the

only full-time staffers) is heading up the Repertory Apprentice

Program (RAP). Open by audition to young people ages 16 to 18 the

program offers classes taught by theater professionals, the

opportunity to work alongside the professional actors on the

production of "Twelfth Night," as well as to present an evening

all-student performance of Shakespeare scenes. The class slate

includes Movement for Actors, Empowering the Actor, and Stage Design,

as well as a two-day intensive movement workshop on "Viewpoints" and

Michael Chekhov technique. According to the Michael Chekhov

Association website, "the fundamental nature of the Chekhov approach

is to bring the psychology of the character into the body through

movement and gesture, creating an enriched and active inner life,

making the creation of a character an imaginative, organic, and

playful process."

Hoge is especially pleased to bring in from the Actors Studio

directing teacher Stuart Vaughan for a master class, an intensive

workshop on "The Method and the Classics." Over four days, students

will spend their mornings in a master class and their afternoons

rehearsing. This will be capped by a public performance on Friday,

June 30.

Vaughan will return on Saturday, July 29, to lead another master class

that will be open to actors other than those in the RAP program. A

director closely associated with the beginnings of Joseph Papp’s

Public Theater in New York, Vaughan directed a number of their

festival plays and has worked as a director at the Seattle Repertory

Theater, Repertory Theater New Orleans, and the New Globe Theater, and

was artistic director of New York’s Phoenix Theater. He has directed

over 40 New York productions, including 16 Shakespeares, and has

served as guest director for regional theaters from coast to coast.

When asked, "Why Princeton Rep?" Hoge answers, "I believe in their

mission."

Princeton Rep

Shakespeare Festival

Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater, 609-921-3682, www.princetonrep.org.

Twelfth Night. First night for Shakespeare’s musical comedy. Thursdays

to Sunday evenings. Free, donations invited. Thursday, July 20,

through Sunday, August 27.

PlayLab Series. Staged readings at an indoor location. Monday, August

7. Also, August 8, 9, 14, 15, and 16.

Master class. "The Method and the Classics" presented by Stuart

Vaughan, the founding artistic director of the New York Shakespeare

Festival and the Seattle Repertory Theater. He has directed more than

40 New York productions. Register. $100. Saturday, July 29.

Academy Theater

146 Route 130, Bordentown, 609-291-9000, www.theacademytheatre.com.

Footloose. Musical. $25. Friday, June 16, through Saturday, June 24.

Actors’ NET

635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, 215-295-3694,

www.actorsnetbucks.org.

Man of La Mancha. Musical about Don Quixote. $20. Thursday, June 15,

through Sunday, June 25.

Bristol Riverside Theater

120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100, www.brtstage.org.

For Sentimental Reasons. A tribute to Nat King Cole conceived,

written, and directed by Edward Keith Baker. $34 to $42. Wednesday,

June 14, through Sunday, June 18.

Bucks County Playhouse

70 South Main Street, New Hope, 215-862-2041,

www.buckscountyplayhouse.com.

Urinetown. Musical. $20. Wednesday, June 14, through Sunday, June 18.

The Graduate. $20. Wednesday, June 21, through Sunday, June 25..

Miss Saigon. Musical. $20. Wednesday, June 28, through, Sunday, July

9.

Aida. Musical. $20. Wednesday, July 12, through Sunday, July 23.

Ragtime. Musical. $20. Wednesday, July 26, through Sunday, August 6.

The Music Man. Musical. $20. Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday,

August 20.

The Full Monty. Musical. $20. Wednesday, August 23, through Sunday,

September 3.

Kelsey Theater

Mercer County College, 609-584-9444, www.kelseyatmccc.org.

What Causes Homosexuality? One-act plays include "Mr. Charles,

Currently of Palm Beach" by Paul Rudnick, and "The Altruists" by Nicky

Silver. Fourth annual AIDS benefit. Silent auction, cocktail

reception. Proceeds to Open Arms Foundation, Graffiti Productions, and

the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship. $40. Friday and Saturday, June

23 and 24.

The Comedy of Errors. Shakespeare `70 presents a comedy about a

shipwreck, lost jewelry, mistaken identity, and two sets of twins.

$12. Friday, June 30, through Sunday, July 9.

The Music Man. Yardley Players presents a hometown family musical

about the formation of a boys band by a swindler. $16. Friday, July

14, through Sunday, July 23.

Grease! Stars in the Park presents a musical about the early days of

rock and roll. $16. Friday, July 28, through Sunday, August 6..

Mount-Burke Theater

Peddie School, Hightstown, 609-490-7550, www.peddie.org/capps.

The Odyssey. Mary Zimmerman’s production directed by Princeton

resident Rick Joyce. Bruce Clough of Hightstown performs the title

role. $12. Friday, July 7, through Sunday, July 16..

New Play Premiere

Hamilton Murray Theater, 609-258-7062, www.princetonsummertheater.org.

Miss Connections, a new contemporary comedy set in Princeton, written

by Princeton resident Marvin Harold Cheiten. Directed by Dan

Berkowitz. $10. Thursday through Sunday, August 17 to 20.

Off-Broadstreet Theater

5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, 609-466-2766,

www.off-broadstreet.com.

Out of Order. Ray Cooney’s British farce about a junior minister and a

secretary for the opposition. $25.25. Weekends rhrough Saturday, July

1.

Nunsensations! Dan Goggin’s newest Nunsense musical. $25.25 to $27.

Friday, July 14, through Saturday, August 26..

Open Air Theater

Washington Crossing State Park, 609-737-1826, www.oatnj.org.

The Last Five Years. Musical. $8 to $10. Thursday, June 15, through

Saturday, June 14.

The Tempest. Drama. $8 to $10. Thursday, June 29, through Saturday,

July 1..

My Fair Lady. Musical classic presented by Actors’ Net. $8 to $10.

Thursday, July 20, through Saturday, July 29..

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra. Weber Theater Company

presents a musical revue of Sinatra’s rise to stardom featuring more

than 56 of his favorite songs. $8 to $10. Thursday, August 3, through

August 12..

Radio Gals. Hedgerow Theater Company presents a family musical about

five wacky women in the 1920s. $8 to $10. Thursday, August 17, through

Saturday, August 26..

Passage Theater

Mill Hill Playhouse, Front and Montgomery streets, Trenton,

609-392-0766, www.passagetheatre.org.

A Stone Carver. Comic family drama by award-winning author William

Mastrosimone and Passage’s resident playwright. When an elderly stone

carver refuses to leave his home to make way for a new highway exit

ramp, his son, the politician, visits. $25. Thursday, June 15, through

Sunday, June 18.

Plays-in-the-Park

Capestro Theater, Roosevelt Park, Route 1 South, Edison, 732-548-2884,

www.playsinthepark.com.

The Scarlet Pimpernel. Frank Wildhorn’s musical set during the French

Revolution. Bring a chair. $5 adults; $4 seniors; children free.

Tuesday, June 27, through Saturday, July 8..

Seussical the Musical. Ahren’s and Flaherty’s musical based on the

works of Dr. Seuss. Bring a chair. $5 adults; $4 seniors; children

free. Wednesday, July 19, through Saturday, July 29..

Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on poems of T.S. Eliot.

Bring a chair. $5 adults; $4 seniors; children free. Wednesday, August

9, through Saturday, August 19..

Princeton Public Library

65 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-9529, www.princetonlibrary.org.

All the World’s a Stage. Scenes from Shakespeare by students of

Shakespeare summer camp directed by Julia Poulos and Mary Greenberg.

Free. Saturday, July 8.

Princeton

Summer Theater

Hamilton Murray Theater, 609-258-7062, www.princetonsummertheater.org.

Wait Until Dark. Frederick Knott’s drama. $14 to $16. Thursday, June

15, through Sunday, June 25.

Black Comedy. Peter Shaffer’s farce. $14 to $16. Thursday, June 29,

through Sunday, July 9.

Little Shop of Horrors. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical about a

mysterious plant. $14 to $16. Thursday, July 13,

Betrayal. Harold Pinter’s love story told in reverse of how an affair

affects the lives of three friends. $14 to $16. Thursday, August 3,

through Sunday, August 13.

Villagers Theater

475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, 732-873-2210, www.villagerstheatre.com.

The Sound of Music. Classic Hammerstein musical set in World War II

features "My Favorite Things," "Edelweiss," and "Climb Every

Mountain." $18. Friday, June 16, through Sunday, June 25.

And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. Comedy by Paul Zindel features the

three Reardon sisters and their neighbors. $12. Friday, July 7,

through Saturday, July 22.

Summer Art: The Dog Days

by Cassidy Enoch-Rex

On a visit to the small New England village of Kent, Connecticut, last

year Christie Robb saw "ARTdogs of Kent," a series of outdoor

sculptures of ceramic dogs, painted and decorated by artists. She knew

right away the concept would work well in Princeton. "The concept fits

perfectly in Princeton because of its strong support of the arts and

its bustling downtown," says Robb, who is co-chair with Jody Erdman of

the first annual Princeton Dog Walk. A collection of 50 uniquely

altered canine sculptures, which were "unleashed" at a private event

for artists and sponsors in May, are now on view throughout downtown

Princeton shopfronts. The statues, decorated by students, artists, and

personalities such as sculptor J. Seward Johnson, author Joyce Carol

Oates, and designer/ architect Michael Graves, will be sold at auction

on Saturday, September 16, at the D&R Greenway Land Trust on Rosedale

Road. Proceeds will benefit the cardiac and pulmonary care program at

the University Medical Center at Princeton.

Robb, an artist herself, says, "we really wanted this show to create a

positive buzz throughout the community. The whole community will

benefit from the dogs, just as the whole community benefits from the

hospital." A book with photos of all 50 dogs is also being planned.

The dogs began as identical, life-size, 30-inch-tall, eight-pound

ceramic bisque "blanks" that resemble a well-behaved Labrador, created

by Eric Samuelson of Litenin Ceramics in Gaylordsville, CT, the same

ceramist who created the dogs for the Kent project. Last fall

co-chairs Robb and Erdman sent proposal letters to 100 artists. Says

Erdman: "After receiving a wide variety of proposals, we chose a

selection of artists, who would cover different ages and many

different art disciplines." This also included sending dogs to 10

schools and arts organizations. The dogs were sent to the artists and

organizations from January through April with a May 1 deadline and

simple instructions: Have fun. The resulting creations vary widely in

style; they came back painted, clothed, and, in some cases, altered

from their docile, seated position.

"The beauty of the show is seeing how 50 people treated the same dog

model," Robb says. "Some of the artists had so much fun with this

that they don’t want to give up their dogs. They plan to bid on them

at auction."

"I terraformed the dog," says Robert Cannon, a full-time artist living

in Princeton. "I have my method of working, which dictates what I do –

I knew right away how it would come out." Though he received a degree

in architecture from Yale University in the early ’90s, Cannon is now

an artist working primarily as a sculptor whose work is heavily

influenced by the "melding of technology and the landscape." Cannon

altered the original structure of the dog, cutting it apart and

reassembling it with the cavities and seams filled with earth and

living plants, both literally and figuratively animating the sculpture

in a remarkable way.

Cannon’s artistic interests are very much fueled by his experiences

growing up in New Jersey, "where images of second growth forests, vast

man made reservoirs, overgrown farms, rusted out factories, and

flooded quarries all amid super-highways and biotech industrial

plants, pressed heavily on me. We live in a state that has seen the

rise and fall of several eras and American history, and that history

is written large in the landscape. Reading the landscape is key to

understanding who we are and what lies ahead. This is what motivates

my work," says Cannon in a phone interview.

`Barking Dog" is a creation by full-time parent, part-time artist

Cindy Besselaar. Besselaar considers herself a collage artist working

with photographic papers and is most currently working on large-scale

botanical assemblages on particle board and canvas. Besselaar studied

textile design at FIT and decorative painting at Parsons in New York

in the early 1990s before starting her own decorative painting

business. She put all of her experience together in creating "Barking

Dog," a process which involved photographing trees in Greenway Meadows

Park, manipulating the images of tree bark on a computer, and then

applying them to the surface of the dog, resulting in a richly

colorful, abstracted surface. Besselaar says the project "was a great

opportunity to be able to apply my own artistic technique to something

unique and different – I know a lot of people had fun doing it."

J. Seward Johnson Jr. is best-known for his lifelike, figurative

bronze sculptures set in public spaces, which often cause passers-by

to perform a double-take in order to determine whether or not the

figures are real. For the Princeton Dog Walk Johnson created "Fetch,"

a black dog holding a white basket labeled "biohazard," filled with

dirty gauze pads and rubber gloves. Though the basket contents are

"rather repulsive," says Johnson, he considers the overall gestalt of

the piece to be tongue-in-cheek as "the dog holds the basket in the

most benign way, as if he’s just doing his job."

Johnson says that the experience of making "Fetch" was a personal

throw-back of 40 years to when he first started sculpting. Though he

has been a successful artist for many years, surrounded by the latest

tools and technology, Johnson had very little formal training. He took

one sculpture class but quit before completing it and simply procured

himself a studio and began to make sculpture. He made "Fetch" at his

home in Florida, where he has none of his sculpting tools and had to

be creative with what he had available – no small feat considering he

had to cut and reposition the head to tilt upward and hold a basket.

"It was a good challenge. It was fun. It was like starting over

again," he says.

Full-time artist Eva Mantel created "Mascot" in which she "covered the

dog with heiroglyphic-looking animals, meant to have an archaic look –

as if it was something from a museum." In fact the surface is collaged

with images from studies that Mantel created in museums looking at

other images of dogs in archeology.

Mantel was "born and bred" in Princeton. Her parents ran an

educational publishing company but her father was also a filmmaker and

documentarian, and her mother recorded poetry and other spoken word

performances back in the ’50s including some by the legendary Dylan

Thomas. Mantel earned a degree in English (while also taking art

classes) at Penn in 1985 and earned a masters in fine art from the

School of Visual Art in New York in 1988. She creates works on paper,

video, and installation pieces.

Though she contemplates culture more broadly in most of her other

work, in "Mascot" she says she is also exploring ownership. "I wanted

it to be all dogs to all cultures. I tried to make it multicultural,

so much so, that there would be so many `owners’ that it would be

confusing," she says. "Mascot," humorously and cleverly, wears a

dog-tag inscribed "call me."

Princeton Dog Walk, 50 ceramic dogs painted and decorated by artists,

students, and organizations. On display throughout downtown Princeton

storefronts through Labor Day. Selection of dogs on display September

7 to 15 at Princeton Day School, Colross Admission Building. Auction

Saturday, September 16, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Rosedale Road,

Princeton. $50. 609-497-4069 or visit www.princetonhcs.org/auxiliary.

Summer Arts: Music

by Elaine Strauss

In more than half dozen chamber music concerts this summer, the

Princeton area has an opportunity to hear a spectrum of ensembles. The

purveyors of this bounty are Princeton University Summer Concerts

(four concerts, overwhelmingly classical, each with a different

ensemble in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton campus), the

Princeton Festival (two concerts: one jazz, one classical at the

Lawrenceville School); Westminster Choir College of Rider University

(two concerts: one jazz, one early music in Westminster’s Bristol

Chapel in Princeton), and Grounds for Sculpture (a folk-oriented

performance by the Susquehanna Ensemble, with the somewhat unusual

instrumentation of flute, oboe, viola, and cello, in Hamilton.)

Violinist Peter Winograd stands out by appearing in two concerts. On

Tuesday, June 20, he plays with the American String Quartet, his

regular chamber music ensemble, under the auspices of the Princeton

University Summer Concerts in Richardson Auditorium. And on Sunday,

July 2, he appears for the first time with Concordia Chamber Players,

in an event sponsored by the Princeton Festival in the Lawrenceville

School’s Kirby Arts Center.

The American String Quartet concert, which includes music by Mozart,

Haydn, and Brahms, is the most musically conservative of the four

events sponsored by the Princeton Summer Concerts. Members of the

quartet, besides Winograd, are Laurie Carney, violin; Daniel

Avshalomov, viola; and Wolfram Koessel, cello. "We offered them

several programs, including Shostakovich and Bartok, and this was what

they chose," Winograd says, in a telephone interview from his West

Nyack, New York, home.

During this centenary year of Shostakovich’s birth, an anniversary

marked in general by restraint, a Shostakovich quartet appears in the

Borealis Quartet program of the Princeton Summer series on Thursday,

July 6, and also in the Princeton Festival’s Concordia Chamber

Players’ (Lawrenceville School) program on Sunday, July 2. The

Lawrenceville program also includes works by Rachmaninoff,

Shostakovich, and Schubert.

Additional performers in what Winograd calls the "mix and match"

Concordia ensemble are his wife Catarina Szepes, violin; Daniel

Pannier, viola; Mark Kosower, cello; Michelle Djokic, cello; and Blair

McMillen, piano. Cellist Djokic, drawing on her web of connections in

the New York-Philadelphia chamber music corridor, founded the

loosely-organized Concordia Chamber Players in 1997. The home base of

the group is New Hope’s acoustically attractive 500-seat Stephen Buck

Theater.

Since Winograd appears both with his regular quartet in Princeton and

with the ad hoc group in Lawrenceville, we asked him about the

difference between playing in an established ensemble and playing on a

mix and match basis. "There are a bunch of us who play in formed

chamber groups who do this type of playing, and we have the same

reactions. It’s easier for something to come together when it’s your

own group. You can easily achieve polish and unanimity of purpose. It

can be exciting to strive for highest level of music in a formed

group. But when we play with other experienced players who know the

repertoire well, there’s an incredible spontaneity and excitement

about putting a piece together in a matter of days, rather than

months. It’s the best of both worlds when you can participate in both

kinds of groups."

There is some unpredictability, however, to playing outside a

musician’s regular ensemble. "When someone asks you to play with a mix

and match group, you never know what type of dynamic there will be,"

Winograd says. "You may see eye to eye about a particular piece and

disagree a lot about another. People may be arguing the entire time

about tempo. Sometimes they don’t take to each others’ musical

personality. When players differ musically, there’s tension because

one style goes against the other, and it’s difficult to achieve

homogeneity or unanimity. If someone who plays Mozart very

romantically is paired with someone who sees it strictly classically,

one is not going to convince the other in two rehearsals." There is a

practical upside, though, to combining oil and water attitudes in a

mix and match group. "Often," Winograd says, "there’s not enough time

to develop tensions."

Having been married to fellow Lawrenceville performer Catarina Szepes

for 10 years, Winograd has had ample opportunity to develop tensions

with her musical style. But mutual stress is not one of the pair’s

activities. "For some couples, playing together is a slippery slope,"

Winograd says. "You have to criticize and disagree." No problem here.

"We met at a chamber music festival in Taos, New Mexico, in the `90s,

and since then we’ve looked for opportunities to play together. We’ve

always kept our sense of humor, and enjoyed collaborating. It brings

out the best in both of us."

Born in Berlin, Szepes trained at the Karlsruhe Hochschule for Music

before coming to the United States. Besides the Taos music festival,

she has participated in Vermont’s Marlboro Festival.

Winograd was born into a musical family in New York City in 1960 and

began his musical studies with his parents. His father, Arthur

Winograd, is the founding cellist of the Juilliard Quartet. His

mother, who died in the late 1980s, was a professional pianist. His

older sister is a psychotherapist in Chatham. "She started piano but

didn’t take to it," Winograd says. "Even so, because of her early

background, when she comes to concerts she gets it. That’s what you

want in a concertgoer." Winograd gave his first solo public

performance at age 11, and at 17 was accepted as a scholarship student

by Juilliard’s noteworthy pedagogue, Dorothy DeLay.

Winograd’s father, now retired, lives in Lincoln Park. "I’ve picked

him up and brought him to concerts when we played in Princeton," son

Peter says. "He loves to go over pieces after the concert and discuss

musical details."

He says he "was not conscious that growing up in a musical family was

unusual. But I was conscious that I was doing a lot of things that

other kids on the block were not doing. I played piano trios with my

parents from the time I could handle the violin parts. I must have

been about 10. My father was conductor of the Hartford Orchestra and

would have members of the orchestra come to our house and play. There

were big parties. At the end of the playing, there was lots of food.

Those weekends were just part of life for me. I knew that other people

were not interested in classical music."

In 1990, the same year he became a member of the Manhattan School of

Music faculty, Winograd became a member of the American Quartet.

Founded in 1974, when its original members were students at Juilliard,

its personnel studied with members of the Juilliard Quartet. The

Quartet has been in residence at the Aspen Music Festival since 1974

and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York since 1984. Over a

period of four years beginning in 2001, they brought to Princeton’s

Richardson Auditorium a series of concerts called "4-5-6," which

presented, in addition to selected string quartets, the complete

quintets and sextets of Mozart and Brahms.

Two of the current American Quartet musicians, violinist Laurie Carney

and violist Daniel Avshalomov, are original members of the ensemble.

The original cellist left in 2002. Current cellist Wolfram Koessel

came on board earlier this year. Winograd expects that the present

configuration of personnel will be stable.

"Since a quartet has only has four members, changing one player has a

dramatic effect on the group." Winograd says. The quartet approaches

making a personnel change with caution. Winograd, whose tenure at the

American has encompassed two changes, describes the process of

choosing a new player. "We get the names of about 10 people and tell

them the repertoire we want to play. Then we read through the pieces.

The first time, we just play and talk. Then we call back some of the

people, play different repertoire, and go through a rehearsal process.

When we think that everything is working, we make an offer."

Winograd’s first lessons outside his home were in the teaching

tradition developed by the Japanese pedagogue, Shinichi Suzuki. He

started Suzuki violin at age four and remained with the method, which

stresses group instruction and finesses the need to learn to read

music, for three years.

Winograd is enthusiastic about the Suzuki method as an avenue to

violin teaching for young children. "It’s a great way for young

children to become comfortable holding the instrument and learning the

basic motions. If they start at 10, they can’t hold the violin. At

four, they can do anything."

The Winograds have seen to it that their children, seven-year-old

Sophia and five-year-old Nicholas, have been exposed to Suzuki music

instruction. Sophia studies violin; Nicholas, cello. "Studying music

is a lot of fun when it’s done right," Winograd says. "The kids come

to American Quartet concerts all the time. They’re good listeners.

They can sit through an entire program."

In the graying audiences for chamber music, children of that age stand

out. But, like their father, they may not realize that their family

activities are out of the ordinary.

Although Winograd and his wife live outside New York City, they are

within easy reach of Manhattan. Their West Nyack home is 30 minutes

from the Manhattan School of Music, where he teaches, and 40 minutes

from Lincoln Center. That’s handy for a musical family. The Winograd

children are both about to perform with their Suzuki classes in

Manhattan. With Suzuki’s philosophy confirming their parents’ habitual

activities, playing in public may be of no particular significance in

their daily lives.

Summer Arts: International Music Series

by Kevin L. Carter

There are some things that are somewhat mysterious about the man who

calls himself Patrick Mystery. Ask him where he’s from, and he’ll tell

you, "Everywhere."

However, there is no mystery about one thing – he is passionate about

everything he does, especially his sometime vocation: reggae singer.

He is especially passionate about the music’s original role in the

hands and voices of his heroes, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, who

combined a cool Caribbean vibe with fiery social commentary.

Patrick Mystery’s eponymous band will perform the last show, Thursday,

August 31, in a series of world music-related concerts at the

Princeton Shopping Center this summer. The shows are sponsored by the

Arts Council of Princeton. Among the performances, which will be held

on successive Thursday nights between 6 and 8 p.m., are groups playing

music from Greece, Latin America, Ireland, England, Germany, and

Spain.

The son of a general contractor and a homemaker, Patrick Mystery

(whose real name is Patrick Phillips) was born in Barbados. His first

musical influence was the music of the Anglican church. "I sang

soprano in the church choir. I was a pretty decent soprano," he says.

"My father was sort of religious. He thought the church was a good

place for us (three boys, three girls) to be." His first instrument

was the harmonica. "My mom purchased it for me when I was a kid, and I

blew that thing whenever I had the chance."

So Mystery spent his formative years playing and singing in the church

– and listening to reggae. It was the release of the Jamaican film,

"The Harder They Come," as well as the emergence of Marley outside of

his native Jamaica that inspired young Patrick to truly absorb the

messages of reggae. "It was really an awakening for me," he says. "It

was Marley’s `Natural Mystic’ that really stuck in my blood, as well

as Jimmy Cliff’s music, which was very much inspirational to me."

After moving to Brooklyn in 1978, Mystery picked up acoustic and

electric guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. The group, Patrick

Mystery, which has been performing since 1995, now has Andrea G on

lead guitar ("you’re not going to find many female lead guitarists in

reggae" says Mystery), Prince Hallam on rhythm guitar, Sherwin

Henperry on keyboards, Ras Jude on bass, and Gary Steele on drums. The

group’s namesake serves as lead vocalist.

"I try to keep an authentic feel in my music," Mystery says. "But it

is merely a feel for me. I do not try to copy anything – I feel the

music. Music is vibration. It is not what is written down on a piece

of paper. It is what you hear and what you feel."

Several of his tunes, most notably "Innocent Blood," bear the imprint

of Marley but Mystery’s style of writing comes more from his

experiences. "I am not a prolific writer but the songs I get come from

somewhere. The ideas flow, I try to put down a framework for them, and

pretty soon I have a song. I try to explain this to my musicians; I

try to put down what I feel and get them to listen to the songs."

Although he is Caribbean-born Mystery considers himself a citizen of

the world – hence his first response when asked about his origins.

"People tend to pigeonhole you when you come from a particular place,"

he says. "But I belong everywhere. There are no borders for me. I am a

person who fits in anywhere in the world."

The name "Mystery" fits the singer, he admits, but it didn’t

originally come as a result of any desire on his part to be

obfuscatory or vague about his life. Rather, it came because he was

and is a student of the ancient Egyptian Mystery System.

The Mystery System, he explains, was a system of education and

socialization taught in ancient Egyptian universities, which adherents

believe gave rise to Greek and Roman religion and cosmology and,

eventually, the basis of what became Western mathematics and science.

"My brother and I had studied the Mystery System, and we were sitting

around one day talking about how that would be a good name for a

band," he says. "The Mystery System is all about the cultivation of

knowledge and wisdom, and we thought we could bring some knowledge of

it to the members of the band. They started calling me Mr. Mystery,

and that evolved into Patrick Mystery."

Reggae music specifically and Caribbean music in general has been

modernized, lamentably, some believe, into a highly electronicized,

hip-hop and funk-inflected genre, characterized by shouted, rather

than sung, lyrics and a pervasive "bling-bling" ethos.

But the music played by this group always strives to show the same

social consciousness that Patrick Mystery’s heroes demonstrated. "My

music tends to be sociopolitical, to deal with world issues," he says.

"I am against the destruction of cultures and habitats by big

corporations and governments. There are many innocent people dying who

are not involved in the political or economic elites or do not have

any control over the global economy."

In his other life, Mystery works as a computer network administrator

for CBIZ Healthcare Solutions, a health care business service firm in

East Windsor, where he lives. He has long, cascading dreadlocks and a

full beard and acknowledges that his appearance isn’t that typical for

computer geeks in corporate America. For that matter, he says, his

appearance isn’t that typical for anyone in corporate America. "I feel

I belong everywhere. I do not box myself in. I fit in every situation,

and am comfortable with everyone. I believe we are all brothers, and

that belief comes out in my dealings with everyone."

He knows that in other corporate settings, people who wish to wear

locks or braids have sued – sometimes unsuccessfully – to have the

right to don hairstyles and clothing that fits their heritage. But

Mystery says he has never had problems getting along with anyone on

the job, even though, such as on a recent corporate trip to Cleveland,

he noticed that he was the only person there with dreads and a beard.

But his supervisors and coworkers are very much aware of his life as a

reggae singer – as well as his sometimes scathing critiques of the

status quo. His bosses, company president Sam Donio and his direct

supervisor, George Kelley, "support me steadfastly," says Mystery.

While Mystery’s songs sometimes attack the status quo, they are always

underpinned with a message of love and understanding. "I do not

believe anyone is alienated by me. If we can find common ground we can

find solutions to world issues."

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