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“Music Department”

192732_10150123172839626_501629625_6134099_6315723_oA big weekend ahead for the arts at Princeton!  Give yourself a couple hours to relax after an epically long (and snowy…sigh) first week back:

  • In the mood for a (literally) epic evening of opera? Theo Popov ’11′s senior thesis with the Music department, called Nero Artifex, is an original chamber opera based on the life of the famous Roman emperor.  Written entirely in Latin by seniors Mariah Min and Veronica Shi (it has subtitles projected onstage), it’s shaping up to be an extremely exciting production, and has involved over fifty student actors, designers, musicians, and backstage hands. Thursday and Friday only, 8pm in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall. Admission is free.
  • If family dramedy’s more your thing, check out Emma Watt ’13′s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, a semiautobiographical play by Neil Simon about growing up Jewish in Brooklyn in the 1930s.  Not intrigued yet?  The play’s scenes about growing up (think two teenage boys desperate to see their cute girl cousin naked) are priceless.  Thursday-Saturday at 8pm in Theatre Intime; the show will also play next weekend. Tickets $8 at the door, student events eligible.
  • Nuns, mistaken identities, a psychotic wife named Bananas, sixties costumes that look straight out of Mad Men…John Guare’s House of Blue Leaves, featuring Brad Baron ’11 as his senior acting thesis for the Theater department, has all that and more.  This weekend and next; Friday and Saturday at 8pm in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center.  Tickets $10, student events eligible.

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Until recently, there was in my mind no conceivable relationship between Hebrew stenography and funk. Then The Books came along and everything changed.

The Books are reading the books!

Hey check it out The Books are reading the books!

The Books are an experimental musical duo, and on Tuesday afternoon they delivered a hilarious and hyper-intellectual presentation as part of the Music Department’s Composition Colloquium Series. This is their second appearance at Princeton in the past year — they played a hypnotizing set at Terrace last fall — but this time around there was less “let’s play our music” and more “let’s talk about how we make our music.”

These guys are critical darlings of the indie world: unsurprisingly, they were greeted by a room chock full of flannel, stubble, and horn-rimmed glasses, largely of grad student origin. And when I refer to The Books as experimental I mean that very seriously. Together they gather bits of found sound and assemble minimalist “sound collages” — a process that cellist Paul de Jong called a “harvest, a social-cultural farming.” (Gotta love the hyphenated abstractions — no wonder so many grad students showed up for this talk.) His partner in crime, guitarist/vocalist Nick Zammuto, rattled off tons of vaguely scientific, consistently gorgeous metaphors for their composition process. But first you need to hear it to understand what he’s talking about. They write pop songs at heart, but they might challenge your standard definition of pop song, unless your standard definition of pop song includes “bits of old Black Panther recordings edited and manipulated beyond all recognition.” But they’re good, trust me! Give ‘em a listen after the jump.

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