‘A World of Music’ with local musicians

In support of children’s education throughout Africa and Indonesia, a sprinkling of Princeton musicians, poets and scholars will perform a provoking concert at Princeton High School. The talent will come to the stage fee of charge and 100 percent of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Room to Read. Room to Read is an international nonprofit promoting literacy, publishing books in students’ native languages and helping young women remain in school. Some of its chapter leaders and corporate sponsors are based here in Princeton.

On Sept. 11 at 3 p.m., a PHS auditorium will fill with eclectic sounds from around the globe. From the high school’s own all-female, student-led vocal ensemble, Cloud Nine, to headliner Neeraj Prem, an acclaimed sitarist from Toronto, the show will have no shortage of musical diversity.

Jenna Rose Venturi, Princeton’s stunning soprano, will commence the concert with the National Anthem. Venturi sings in five languages, participates in the Princeton Girl Choir and sings at many Princeton University sporting events. She also spent this summer studying music at the Eastman School of Music.

“She has one of those voices that you will undoubtedly be hearing at the opera,” said Sarah Branon, Room to Read Central New Jersey chapter leader and former English teacher at Stuart Country Day School. Cloud nine will  continue western sounds of the concert with A cappella tunes from “The American Songbook.”

Echoing from Eastern tradition will be a Carnatic ensemble called Nadam-Serenity in Sound. The group of young Princeton women will play music typical of Southern India, while the headliner, Prem, will play classical sounds from the north. According to Prem’s biography, he learned to play music as a disciple of Shujaat Kahn, known as one of this generation’s greatest classical musicians in Indian music. In the spirit of supporting youth, Prem will bring his son to accompany him.

Another cultural element to enliven the concert of world music will be a group performance titled “Words and Music from the Land of the Jaguar” by musician John Burkhalter, reader Berthalicia Harvey and poet Carlos Hernandez Peña. The music and poetry will weave together verse and incantations of the ancient Maya. Harvey, a scholar at PU, was an assistant to Social Anthropologist Trudi Blum, who spend decades studying Maya culture in Chiapas, Mexico. Harvey and Hernandez Peña will recite from books published by a consortium of Maya women called “Taller Leñateros,” while Burkhalter plays pre-Columbian Maya instruments such as the conch shell horn, turtle carapace, gourd rattles and the only known Maya flute comprised of apple green jade. Hernandez Peña will also recite one of his own poems.

Tickets for the concert may be purchased at the door or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-world-of-music-tickets-26877560507?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing. $20 for adults, $5 for children 14 and younger and $12 for teachers and students. For more information email Ranjana Rao at rtrrao@gmail.com.

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida