Top 10 NJ Arts Events of week: Lunar New Year Celebration, Light of Day, moe., Pilobolus more

NJS lunar new year celebration


New Jersey Symphony music director Xian Zhang.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Jan. 26.


The New Jersey Symphony presents its annual family-friendly Lunar New Year Celebration, marking the start of the Year of the Rabbit, January 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC, with a pre-concert Gala dinner (visit at 4:30 p.m.

NJS’s music director Xian Zhang and its assistant conductor, Tong Chen, will lead the orchestra, which will be joined by pianists Chelsea Guo and Min Kwon, violinist Nancy Zhou, The Peking University Alumni Chorus, The Starry Arts Group Children’s Chorus, and the Edison Chinese School Lion Dance Team.

The program will include the world premiere of James Ra’s Fantasia on Sae Taryeong; “Sae Taryeong” is a Korean folk song inspired by the sounds of birds. Other works to be performed include Li Huanzhi’s Spring Festival Overture; Zhao Jiping’s Violin Concerto No. 1; Chen Qigang‘s Er Huang; Bizet’s “Choeur des gamins” from Carmen; the traditional Di Li, Di Li (arr. Liu); Li Shutong Farewell at Long Pavilion (arr. Hersh); and Sartori’s Con te partirò (arr. Hersh).


The Light of Day WinterFest concludes with its annual “Songwriters in the Round” show at the Outpost in the Burbs, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m., with Willie Nile, James Maddock, Guy Davis, Jill Hennessy, Jeffrey Gaines, Williams Honor, Danielia Cotton, Jake Thistle, Jon Caspi, Adam Ezra and Rick Winowski, plus Joe D’Urso both performing and serving as host. The show will be at the First Congregational Church in Montclair.

Chuck Garvey, the moe. guitarist who suffered a stroke in late 2021, made an appearance at the jam band’s recent New Year’s Eve show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, and will be back with the group on their winter tour, which include an 8 p.m. Jan. 21 concert at The Wellmont Theater in Montclair.


The innovative dance troupe Pilobolus is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a tour titled The Big Five Oh! and featuring both new and classic pieces. The tour comes to the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m.; and The Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, March 12 at 7 p.m. (watch video below)

In addition to the New Jersey Symphony’s Lunar New Year Celebration (see above), NJPAC in Newark will offer Lunar New Year Celebrations by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, combining traditional and contemporary dance, Jan. 21-22 at 2 p.m. at its Victoria Theater.



Grammy-winning children’s music artist Dan Zanes and his wife, singer Claudia Zanes, will perform at a concert and food drive at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. In lieu of tickets, attendees are being asked to bring one non-perishable food item to be donated to the Arm in Arm organization’s Valentines for Food program, or to make a monetary donation.


The Capitol Steps, a Washington, D.C.-based group that specialized in politically satirical songs and skits, ended a nearly 40-year run in 2019. But some of its members are continuing, in the same vein, in a group called DC’s Reflecting Fools, which performs at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m.

According to promotional material, “Audiences will continue to see cast members from past seasons of the Capitol Steps performing all the beloved bits, the show-ending and mind-boggling backward talking spoonerisms, break-neck costume changes, over-the-top impressions, and all-new song parodies reflecting the day’s news.”


NJPAC screens the documentary “American River: Journey Down the Passaic” on Jan. 20.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center will screen “American River,” a documentary by Chatham director Scott Morris at its Prudential Hall, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. The film is about a four-day kayak trip down the Passaic River inspired by Mary Bruno’s 2012 book, “An American River: From Paradise to Superfund, Afloat on New Jersey’s Passaic,” and retraces the journey she writes about in the book, with her.

According to a press release, “the documentary charts not just their travels but how the Passaic shaped New Jersey’s history (and) improbably touches on real estate development, the Great Falls of Paterson, the career of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the allure of a classic Jersey diner, the history of crew racing and the impact of community organizing.”

The screening will be followed by a talk-back session with Morris, Bruno and kayaker Carl Alderson, who served as Bruno’s guide in both the book and the movie.




• “MLK Celebration: The Birth of An Activist,” a free program being presented by Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts at the Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m., will feature a variety of performances centered around the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work as a Civil Rights leader, including Herbie Hancock’s “I Have a Dream,” featuring the Rutgers Chamber Jazz Ensemble, with excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; staged scenes about the life of Rosa Parks; a short dance film honoring King with choreography and a performance by Kyle Marshall; and more.

“The Greatest Gift” will be the subject of a “StorySLAM” at Cinema505 in Montclair, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. According to Montclair Film, which is presenting the event, “When the new year rings in, we often find joy, peace, and love in the gifts we didn’t know we needed. Join us for stories of gifts that made an impact.”


“Ancestral Call,” works by Danielle Scott at Gallery Aferro, Newark. (Through Jan. 21)

“RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film, 1978-2008,” works by rock photographer Jay Blakesberg at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Feb. 5)

“Popcorn Falls” at New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch. (Through Feb. 12)

“Derrick Belcham: The You Voice” at MANA Contemporary, Jersey City. (Through Feb. 12)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through June 25)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30, 2024)


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