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A Jazzed Up First Week for the Princeton Festival

by Mary Galioto

The Princeton Festival kicks off its 11th season on June 6 and 7 with jazz, a cappella vocal jazz and a jazz piano quintet. The calendar for the first week of this three-week festival also includes free lectures, musical previews, and a hands-on Indian dance demonstration and workshop.

Two award-winning a cappella vocal jazz groups lead off the 2015 season, on Saturday June 6 at 8 pm, in Taplin Auditorium in the Fine Hall on the Princeton University campus. The Tribunes, a group of five guys who have paid their dues singing doo wop, R & B, and rock ‘n’ roll with some of the greats of the 1950s and 1960s, will bring their own sound in five part harmony to some of the great songs from those two decades. While the West Side 5 presents a more contemporary approach to a cappella vocal jazz. They are known for their unique sound that is characterized by original arrangements, complex harmonies, and outstanding musicianship.

New York-based pianist and composer, Falkner Evans, brings his jazz piano quintet to Clark Music Center at The Lawrenceville School on Sunday, June 7 at 4pm. Evans is well known in the jazz world for his attractive, listenable music full of subtle complexities.

“I want the music to be enjoyable on the first listen, but to open up to show its depths,” Evans said.

Joining him, as they have on recordings, are Marc Mommaas (saxophone), Kirk Knuffke (trumpet), Belden Bullock (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums).

Scenes from the Festival’s productions of Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro and the musical comedy The 25 Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will come to life in a free preview performance on Thursday June 4 at 7:30pm in Princeton Public Library. Singers are joined by the stage directors to discuss their productions in the making. The opera opens on June 13 for three performances, and Spelling Bee on June 12 for ten performances.

A free interactive workshop and demonstration of the classical Indian dance form of Kathak and tabla drum at the Clark Music Center, The Lawrenceville School at 4pm on Saturday June 6 will presage Pradhanica’s June 27th performance.

Mozart and Le Nozze di Figaro will be the subject of three free lectures in the week to come.

• On Tuesday, June 2 at 7pm in the Princeton Public Library, Catherine Sprague, historian, pianist and Mozart expert will discuss “Mozart 1784- 1786,” a vibrant period in Vienna that was the most productive of the composer’s life.

• On Thursday, June 4 at 7pm in the Lawrence Library, Marianne Grey, Princeton University Art Museum docent, will present “Figaro, a New Opera Hero,” with illustrations of the political and social change that underlay Mozart’s opera. The lecture is repeated on June 25 at 7:30pm in the Princeton Public Library.

• “A Marriage of Music and Mayhem: Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro” will be the subject of a lecture by Timothy Urban, Professor of Music at Rider University on Saturday, June 6 in West Windsor Library, and again on June 19 at 7:30pm at Princeton Public Library.

For more information and a link to ticket sales (handled by McCarter Theatre), visit www.princetonfestival.org. To purchase tickets by phone, call McCarter Theatre at 609-258-2787.

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