Princeton Festival: enriching community through the arts

Established in 2005, the Princeton Festival aims to promote the enrichment of the arts in the Princeton community, with events such as operas, choral concerts, and others. Having received the Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in 2013, it is a renowned arts festival in New Jersey. The program also tries to educate people in the arts, and holds free lecture sessions introducing each of its events prior to their occurrence.

“They’re designed to enhance the public understanding of some of the works that we’re presenting,” said Dr. Richard Tang Yuk, artistic director of the festival.

The festival is held June 3rd to June 25th. The location for each event varies, but exact information for lecture sessions and performances can be found at the festival’s website,


Disney in Concert: Around The World

Set to be shown for the first time on June 9 at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, this is a children-friendly event, combining film with music. As The Princeton Festival Pops Orchestra plays songs from fan-favorite Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, scenes from these movies will be broadcasted on a big screen for the audience.

“This is the first time that we’re presenting the Pops Orchestra in concert and we thought that if we put it to a Disney theme, it might appeal to families,” said Yuk.

All Princeton High School students will also be able to get 50% off tickets using their student ID. (Note that this special offer only applies if tickets are purchased in-person and not online).


Jazz- Peter Martin Trio

The Peter Martin Trio consists of Peter Martin, Kendrick Scott, and Reuben Rogers, who are each well-known in the jazz community. Martin, for instance, arranged Grammy-winning music for George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck?, and Scott and Rogers have both gone on tour with award-winning musicians Herbie Hancock and Diane Reeves, respectively. The jazz group hails from Philadelphia, and because of its local appeal, was chosen as the jazz act of this year.

“Peter Martin is pretty well known in this area … we really wanted [the trio] to come and be a local act. It’s good for us and good for them, since if folks like what they see, it really opens up a new audience for them,” said Princeton Festival staff member Nicole Benvenuti.

The trio’s performance on June 17 at McCarter Theatre will mark the first time that they have performed in New Jersey.


Dance- BalletX

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graphic by Avery Hom

Philadelphia’s BalletX is a group that encourages breaking the traditional barriers of ballet, while maintaining the key stylistic elements of the art form. While all of the dancers have trained in classical ballet, they often join BalletX to experiment with their own individualistic, and usually modern takes, on the dance. Founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, the dance company performs contemporary ballet, with sequences such as “The Last Glass,” which blends a background of indie rock music, with ballet-inspired dance.

“Once we got [a] response from the audience to see what they liked, we found they liked contemporary dance more than they did traditional. We’re kind of pushing the edges out further and further,” said Benvenuti.


Opera- Fidelio

Although not a popular opera in most art festivals, Fidelio is the only opera that Ludwig Beethoven ever wrote.

“Since it’s not as well-known of an opera, it really gives us a chance to put our own twist to it, and make it our own,” said Benvenuti.

The work combines a tale of romanticism and heroism with the bigger picture of tackling humanitarian ideals. The music, filled with deep-rooted emotion and power, follows the tale of a Spanish nobleman seeking to overthrow a tyrant, only to be condemned, and is later saved by his love. Accomplished opera singer Marcy Stonikas plays the titular role of Leonore, who has disguised herself as a man, Fidelio. Stonikas is an accomplished opera singer, having been praised by The Washington Times, as well as starring in the Turandot as the titular character with Atlantic Opera and Opera Naples.  


Musical Theater: Man of La Mancha

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graphic by Avery Hom

Based on famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Man de La Mancha is an acclaimed American musical, having won five Tony awards. The plotline follows the heart-rending story of an old dying man, who dreams of making the world a better place. It is described as a play-within-a-play because there is both the story of Cervante, who is trying to escape execution, and that of the character which he creates: the titular Don Quixote. The Princeton Festival likes to have opera acts and musical theater acts that share similarities year-to-year, and this is no exception.

“They both deal with human aspiration, and the belief in the goodness of humanity in general, and the anger of justice, which eventually triumphs over evil,” said Yuk.

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