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Hear This: ‘Beethoven’ Mixes Music And Theater At The Mount

Photo: Jacqueline Chambord

By Jeremy D. Goodwin

Though we may tend to think of it nowadays in terms of visuals, theater is an art form that’s always been very concerned with listening. In Shakespeare’s day, audiences went to “hear” a play, not see one. There’s a reason theater artists refer to sub-units of a scene as “beats.”

So, the pairing of music with onstage drama is a natural fit. But in the hands of the Ensemble for the Romantic Century, the live music does more than enhance the emotional rhythms onstage. It is both a form of storytelling, and the subject of the story.

“Beethoven Love Elegies” is the troupe’s latest blend of history, music and biography, all in service of a story that means to enhance our understanding of a great artist from the past, and the context of that artist’s work. It depicts a young Beethoven making the scene in Vienna, teaching music lessons and looking for a wife as he grew increasingly deafer. Recorded music is integrated into the action, though four onstage musicians also play fare like the “Moonlight” sonata (dedicated to a young music student with whom Beethoven fell in love), his “Ghost” piano trio, and assorted lieder on the topic of romance.

Eve Wolf: writer, pianist, company founder

“When I play music, I already time travel. I feel I’m in another era with that person,” says ECR founder, pianist, and frequent playwright Eve Wolf. “Because I also like music history, I reconstruct in my mind the whole milieu. And I want to give that to other people.”

Though the troupe frequently plays in New York, it made its Berkshires debut last summer at Shakespeare & Company. (Longtime S&Co. members Jonny Epstein and Ariel Block have performed with ECR.) The premiere of “Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart” in Lenox was a hit here, and the show went on to play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this year.  The theatrical/musical alchemists return to the region again this year, playing 12 performances of “Beethoven Love Elegies” at The Mount’s Stables Theatre.

Wolf, who attended the Red Fox summer camp in New Marborough as a child, went on to be a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and kept a house in Stockbridge for 20 years, says this combination of music and theater is just right for audiences in the Berkshires.

Deborah Grausman

The cast is led by Australian actor Kire Tosevski, a newcomer to Berkshire stages, but includes several familiar faces — including the actress and singer Deborah Grausman, who’s been seen onstage at S&Co. in “Master Class” and a staged reading of an adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility,” among various other projects; Doria Bramante, a veteran of S&Co.’s actor training program; Johnny Segalla, who appeared in youth productions at S&Co., Berkshire Theatre Group and Barrington Stage Company while growing up in Berkshire County; and the ever-dapper Colin Gold, who temporarily left the area last year to study at the prestigious London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art.

Don Sanders, the Ensemble’s resident director, is familiar with the 413 area code through his summer house in Belchertown. He says the story of Beethoven’s 20s and 30s is generally unfamiliar to audiences. “Here was this guy, almost like a young rock star,” Sanders says, “coming to the center of his kind of music — Vienna — and making it, both musically and romantically.”

But some of Beethoven’s personality, as depicted in screen stories of his life, will seem familiar. “His difficult personality, which is also very comic,” Sanders says, “is already on display. So is his attitude toward the aristocracy that he spends his time with.”

Wolf intends for this fresh look at Beethoven to be enlightening, with respect to both his personal story and the context of his music.

“I think it’s a side of Beethoven that people don’t know. They always think of him older and completely eccentric, with the wild hair. But this is Beethoven at 30, good looking, with lots of love interests. He’s searching for a wife and not finding one, but also writing his only opera, ‘Fidelio,’ in which he creates the perfect wife as a character.”

The whole piece is based on documentary evidence from Beethoven’s life — letters, diary entries, contemporary accounts. Wolf, who wrote it, says there’s no need to dress the story up with fictional devices.

“You don’t need fiction for Beethoven. The real stuff is already very interesting.”

Ensemble for the Romantic Center presents “Beethoven Love Elegies”
Through Aug. 3

The Stables Theatre at The Mount
Lenox, MA

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Posted by Jeremy D. Goodwin on 07/15/14 at 11:40 PM • Permalink

Bookmark This: No Muss, No Fuss Concerts In The Parks

By Rachel Louchen

There’s the Big One — Tanglewood — looming large over our summer afternoons and evenings of music. But there are also dozens of outdoor concerts taking place throughout our region this summer, with many cities and towns offering a wide variety of musical genres. It might be pure Americana played in the gazebo on the town square or jazz on the lawn at an historic property, but there’s one thing all these series have in common: they’re set against an outdoor backdrop made for music. Most of these events are free and suited for the whole family, so all you need is a chair or blanket and you’re ready to enjoy the sounds of summer.

Schedules may change and weather may affect performances, so it’s best to check before you head out.

Berkshire County

Bascom Lodge Music Series
Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays 
Dates and times vary.
Featuring a diverse mix of musical genres, including jazz, blues and rock and roll.
Atop Mount Greylock
Adams, MA

David Grover & Grover’s Gang
Saturdays in July & August at 10 a.m.
David Grover will perform songs that will delight children of all ages.
Main Street (behind Town Hall), Great Barrington, MA

Great Barrington Summer Bandstand
Fridays at 5:30 p.m.
Now – September 19
Local bands perform jazz, country, folk and soul.
Main Street (behind Town Hall), Great Barrington, MA

Photo by John Seakwood.

Music After Hours at The Mount
Fridays & Saturday from 5-8 p.m.
July 4—August 30
Traditional jazz from local and visiting artists.
The Mount Terrace, 2 Plunket Street, Lenox, MA

Concerts in Lilac Park
Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.
Now – August 27
Blues, country, jazz, big band and Boston University Tanglewood Institute Students
Lilac Park, Main Street, Lenox, MA

Concerts at Windsor Lake
Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.
Now – August 20
A mix of funk and bass-heavy rock-and-roll music. Bring your dancing shoes.
Intersection of Bradley Street and Kemp Avenue, North Adams, MA

Music at the Mansion
Bi-weekly on Fridays at 6 p.m.
Classic rock, 60’s folk and tunes geared towards children will be performed on the lawn.
North Adams Library
74 Church Street, North Adams, MA

Party in the Park
Live music, food vendors and a classic car display
Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.
July 10 – August 28
Noel Field, Route 8, North Adams, MA

Live on the Lake
Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.
July 9 – August 27
Kicks off with the Who tribute band, Who Are You, and continues with local rockin’ acts for the duration of series.
Burbank Park at Onota Lake, Lakeway Drive, Pittsfield, MA

Outdoor Summer Concerts at The Clark
Tuesdays at 6 p.m.
July 8 – August 26
Jazz, blues, folk, rock and high-energy violin are just a few of the styles that’ll be performed.
The Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, MA

Litchfield County

Photo by Joe Mabel.

Concert Series on the Green
Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m.
Now – July 30
Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
August 6 – 27
Jazz and blues featuring many local performers.
159 West Street, Litchfield, CT

Woodbridge Summer Concert Series
Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m.
July 1 – 29
Early rock and roll, dance band, Motown, swing, soul and a Creedance Clearwater Revival/John Fogerty Tribute Band
Gazebo on the Green
4 Meetinghouse Lane, Woodbridge, CT

Coe Park Summer Concert Series
Tuesdays and Fridays from 7-9 p.m.
Now – August 31
Classic rock, big band, Americana, country, contemporary classics, R&B and the Torrington Civic Symphony
Coe Memorial Park Civic Center, 101 Litchfield Street, Torrington, CT

Columbia County

Greenport Music at Sunset
Fridays at 7 p.m.
Now – August 29
Classic rock and country, plus Beatles and Patsy Cline cover bands
Greenport Town Park, 405 Joslen Boulevard, Hudson, NY

Dutchess County

Music In The Parks
Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Now – July 30
August 6 & 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Big band, jazz, classic rock and the West Point Military Academy Band 
Vanderbilt and Mills Mansions
75 Mills Mansion Drive (off Old Post Road), Staatsburg, NY
119 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park, NY

Music At The Lake
Sundays at 4 p.m.
July 13, August 3 and August 17
Swing, blues, R&B and rock plus food
Lions Club Pavillion
Lake Drive, Pine Plains, NY

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 06/21/14 at 11:52 PM • Permalink

Tanglewood Adds To Its Lineup And Music Is Only Part Of It

By Lisa Green

And the countdown begins: the first official event on the Tanglewood grounds under BSO auspices happens in just a week, marking the definitive start of the season, and bringing with it this year a host of new options, musical and otherwise. The 2014 season offers more events for families and kids, a selection of pre- and post-concert tastings and a long list of artists making their Tanglewood premieres.

Have no fear, though, if you were counting on the regularly scheduled stalwarts. James Taylor is back (but already sold out); Tanglewood On Parade, the John Williams/Boston Pops Film Night, the Festival of Contemporary Music, performances by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and open rehearsals are all on the schedule. Plan ahead or play it by ear; there’s always a place for a last-minute picnic on the Lawn.

Here’s what’s new.

Andris Nelsons Let’s start with the most obvious, and perhaps the most anticipated: the BSO’s new conductor. Felled by an accident last summer, his Tanglewood debut was postponed until this season. For Nelsons’ first festival appearances as BSO Music Director Designate, he will conduct four concerts in July.

Highwood Manor House Open for Dinner and Brunch Not prone to picnic? This year Tanglewood opens the Highwood Manor House to the public for pre-concert fine dining, with a pre-fixe buffet dinner on Friday and Saturday ($65 per person) or Sunday brunch buffet ($45). Cocktails, bottled wine and a la carte desserts will also be available. For reservations, call (413) 637-4486.

Date Night Tanglewood turns concierge as it plans a date for you and your honey. It includes a pre-concert dinner for two at Highwood and two premium tickets in the Shed ($150), or two lawn tickets and two lawn chairs and the pre-concert dinner at Highwood ($100). If it’s a first date and you need to get the conversation rolling, the package includes a tour of the grounds. Date Nights are scheduled for July 18, July 25 and August 8 (all Friday evenings).

Tanglewood Family Day Not to be confused with the Tanglewood Family Fun Fest (June 27) or Tanglewood on Parade (August 5), Family Day on July 27 will offer activities for the whole family throughout the afternoon, leading up to the 2:30 p.m. BSO concert. Expect arts and crafts, face painting, musical demonstrations, and a gift bag for all the kids (who, by the way, are free, so only the grownups need to buy tickets). 

Tanglewood Chocolate Dessert Brunch Music may be the food of love — that’s just a metaphor — but chocolate is the real thing. On Sunday, August 3, you can exit the Shed and follow your nose to the dessert “brunch” featuring decadent chocolate creations. A lawn ticket, which includes a ticket to the brunch, is $40. Shed patrons can purchase brunch tickets separately for $25.

Microbrewery Beer Tasting They don’t miss a trend, these Tanglewood people. The tasting under the tent will offer samples of beers from microbreweries around the region. Appetizers and snacks will be included, as will one lawn ticket for the concert that night, which falls on Friday, August 15.

Artists new to Tanglewood 2014 sees the festival and BSO premieres of conductors William Eddins and Rob Fisher; soprano Marjorie Owens, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop, tenor Issachah Savage and many others. Other soloists and ensembles new to Tanglewood include trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, the Chamber Ensemble from the Boston Lyric Orchestra, violinist Leonides Kavakos and pianist Nikolai Lugansky.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/17/14 at 08:53 AM • Permalink

30(ish) Tix Not To Miss

Let it be said — now is the winter of our discontent finally taking a hike, and letting us plan in earnest for the glorious summer. Somehow it doesn’t seem right to pick out opening-night outfits for summer theater when you haven’t put the snow shovel away yet. But with spring rains replacing winter snowstorms, it finally seems apt to look forward to the summer season in the Rural Intelligence region. With so much to pick from, our annual summer preview is always an exercise in restraint; this list of 30(ish) could easily swell much larger. This year we’ve broken it down into three categories of the performing arts that help define this region — theater, dance and music. Dig in and enjoy.  —Jeremy D. Goodwin


Kiss Me, Kate at Barrington Stage Company
You might say Barrington Stage’s big, main-stage musical last year was a success; On the Town filled houses, was toasted by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and will reconvene with its key personnel for a Broadway run this fall. After that burst of Leonard Bernstein, Julieanne Boyd turns to the music of Cole Porter and kicks off her company’s 20th season with a romp through Kiss Me, Kate. This is bound to get the summer theater season going in earnest.
Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, Pittsfield, MA, June 11 — July 12

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare & Company
Shakespeare & Company was founded in 1978 with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and later said goodbye to The Mount in 2001 with a production said to be one of the great Berkshire theater moments of recent decades. But a 30th anniversary production in 2007 felt a little “off-brand.” So in his sixth season as artistic director, Tony Simotes — who played Puck in that foundational production in 1978 — will look to restore order to things with a New Orleans-inspired take on the main stage.
Tina Packer Playhouse, Lenox, MA, June 21 — August 30

Madagascar at Chester Theatre Company
This intriguing, time-shifting mystery kicks off Chester’s 25th season with the story of a young man’s inscrutable disappearance. The cast features two actresses who’ve been at Chester before but each had memorable turns lately at Barrington Stage Company — local transplant Debra Jo Rupp, who triumphed so mightily in the solo Dr. Ruth All the Way, and Kim Stauffer, who starred as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Chester Town Hall, Chester, MA, June 25 — July 6

Julius Caesar at Shakespeare & Company
Though she made her name directing Shakespeare in Lenox — and she remains an in-demand guest director around the world — Tina Packer hasn’t helmed one of his plays on her home turf since 2008. These days she typically turns her attention to the few dusty corners of the canon she has yet to visit, so it’ll be a double treat when she directs an all-business cast of seven in a “Bare Bard” production of the ever-popular Julius Caesar at the company’s intimate second stage this summer.
Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, MA, June 27 — August 30


A Little Night Music
at Berkshire Theatre Group
An unlikely mix of Stephen Sondheim, Ingmar Bergman and the titular echo of Mozart, A Little Night Music has charmed since its initial bow on Broadway in 1973. For Berkshire Theatre Group’s fourth summer musical on the big stage at the Colonial Theatre, Berkshire-born operatic talent Maureen O’Flynn will get the chance to show her musical-theater chops. BTG seems to sense a rising star in young director Ethan Heard, who appears poised for what could be his breakout production.
The Colonial, Pittsfield, MA, June 30 — July 19



Love in the Wars at Bard SummerScape
Irish writer John Banville is nothing if not prolific — his literary fiction has netted him a bevy of awards (including the Booker Prize and Franz Kafka Prize), but he finds time to slum as author of a series of crime novels under the name Benjamin Black. Now he turns to classical/mythological themes with a stage adaptation of Penthesilea, Heinrich von Kleist’s 1808 play about an Amazonian queen with the hots for Achilles. The resulting work, called Love in the Wars, makes its world premiere at Bard SummerScape.
Fisher Center (Theater 2) at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, July 10 — 20

The Golem of Havana at Barrington Stage Company
Barrington Stage Company’s musical theater lab — the domain of William Finn, whose most recent Broadway production came this past season with Little Miss Sunshine — scored last year with Southern Comfort, one of the highlights of the Berkshire season. This year’s world premiere musical, The Golem of Havana, depicts the unexpected juxtaposition of a Hungarian-Jewish family in Havana on the eve of Castro’s revolution.
St. Germain Stage, Pittsfield, MA, July 16 — August 12

Fool For Love at Williamstown Theatre Festival
We’ve come to expect our summer movie-star fix from Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the company delivers again with the return of Williamstown veteran and enigmatic film star Sam Rockwell. 2012 Tony Award winner Nina Arianda is on board as well, in a work about two former lovers holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
Nikos Stage, Williamstown, MA, July 23 — August 2



Cedars at Berkshire Theatre Group
The beguiling Keira Naughton has become a familiar sight on Berkshire stages, but she’ll switch things up by directing her Tony Award-winning father James in this world premiere solo comedy. (The Naughton family theme at BTG continues later in the season with the arrival of James Naughton’s son Greg to direct A Hatful of Rain on the same stage.)
Fitzpatrick Main Stage, Stockbridge, MA
July 23 — August 9



LA Party and An Evening With William Shatner Asterisk at Mass Live Arts
Mass Live Arts made a good impression with its inaugural season last summer, serving up nervy theater troupes like Radiohole and Half Straddle, followed by post-show outdoor hangouts with local beer and local(ly sourced) burgers. This year’s run of three weekends culminates with a two-fer from Phil Soltanoff including LA Party, his multimedia, conceptual staging of a short story about a “fanatical vegan” going on a bender.
Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, MA, July 24, 25, 26


The Visit at Williamstown Theatre Festival
Broadway legend Chita Rivera — she was the original Anita in a little show you may have heard of called West Side Story — is on the short list of actresses who’ve won multiple Tonys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. She must see something special in The Visit, a musical she’s returned to repeatedly since stepping in for a grieving Angela Lansbury for the show’s initial run in 2001. Perhaps it’s the inimitable work of lyricist Fred Ebb and book-writer Terrence McNally; her star turn in their Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1992 netted her the second of her two Tonys.
Main Stage, Williamstown, MA, July 31 — August 17


Retro Spectacle at Berkshire Fringe
Sara Katzoff, Great Barrington native and co-founding artistic director of Berkshire Fringe, coined the term “fringe-stitution” to describe her scrappy, irrepressible company as it heads towards its tenth summer of boundary-breaking work. From tour-de-force monologues to conceptual, group confections of devised-theater, Berkshire Fringe has reflected many of the forward-thinking onstage trends in recent years — and its invigorating opening party and performance is always a bright spot in the summer calendar. For this landmark anniversary year, it heads north for the first time to Pittsfield, where it will perform at the former Notre Dame church.
Shire City Sanctuary, Pittsfield, MA, August 2 at 6 p.m.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid at TriArts Sharon Playhouse
Chances are good your young child or grandchild knows the music from the Disney movie by heart. But you don’t have to be a kid to appreciate the stage spectacle, which has the makings of a great (almost) back-to-school outing for your little prince or princess.
TriArts Sharon Playhouse, Sharon, CT, August 13 — 24




ECLIPSE with Jonah Bokaer & Anthony McCall at Basilica Hudson
We love getting the chance to see the latest experimental work by wunderkind dancer/choreographer Jonah Bokaer, whether in his regular visits to Jacob’s Pillow or intimate urban-swank happenings in Hudson like this one, a multimedia collaboration (of course) with visual artist Anthony McCall, who specializes in film and projection. If you didn’t see this piece at BAM — or even if you did — this should be a dancingly delicious opening to the Basilica’s season.
Basilica Hudson, Hudson, NY, April 25 & 26

David Neumann: Solo Works at Mass MoCA
This manically creative dancer knows how to hold an audience’s attention, as he’ll do in this survey of solo works in the Hunter Center. He’s been described as “effervescent, delightfully odd, and frequently funny.” We’ll take some of each, please.
Hunter Center, North Adams, MA, April 26 at 8 p.m.

Oliva Contemporary Dance Project at Kaatsbaan Studio Theatre
This company from New York via Italy makes its reach for international recognition with a style it describes as abstract and surreal, while still highlighting the traditional foundations of contemporary dance. It premieres a new show as recipient of one of Kaatsbaan’s two annual residencies.
Kaatsbaan Studio Theatre, Tivoli, NY, May 10 at 7:30 p.m.


Trisha Brown Dance Company at Bard SummerScape
As its title indicates, Proscenium Works 1979-2011 provides a wide view of the work of this innovative choreographer across more than two decades of postmodern dance-making, amid the pomp and sniffles of her still-busy company’s three-year “farewell” tour of her key works.
Fisher Center (Sosnoff Theater) at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, June 27 & 28

Dorrance Dance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
Tap sensation Michelle Dorrance was utterly charming last summer in her genial acceptance of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award and a subsequent performance that included a spell of the tastemaker improvising onstage, her musical dance steps speaking volumes in a darkened Ted Shawn Theatre. She’s in residence as director of the Pillow’s student tap program this summer, offering audiences the world premiere of a collaborative new piece on two consecutive weekends.
Doris Duke Theatre, Becket, MA, July 16 — 27

Ballet 2014 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
There’s a particular thrill in catching a visiting troupe like the Hong Kong Ballet exhibit its distinctive group approach at Jacob’s Pillow, but there’s also something to be said for a high-protein variety pack of top-line American stars pushing their personal limits. For Ballet 2014, a hand-picked assemblage of principal dancers and soloists from New York City Ballet will offer a sort of variety pack of virtuosity, spanning newer works to Fancy Free, the Jerome Robbins/Leonard Bernstein collaboration that gave birth to On the Town
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA, July 16 — 20

Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
Dance legend Mark Morris is a perennial crowd-pleaser, and a very familiar face in the Berkshires after years of collaboration with Jacob’s Pillow and Tanglewood. He’s the subject of five days of programming at the Pillow this summer, including musical seminars and a concert, lectures, and main stage performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group of a program ranging from the epochal Festival Dance to Crosswalk, one of the troupe’s newest works. The Pillow calls the Morris-centric week a “festival within a festival.”
Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, MA, July 23 — 27


Paul Taylor Dance Company at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
We’re thrilled that the Paul Taylor Dance Company not only continues to keep an annual engagement at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, but uses these shows to offer New England debuts of new work. Four performances across three days will include the first regional look at 2014 dance Marathon Cadenzas, as well as other pieces from throughout Taylor’s estimable career. The executive director of the Taylor troupe says: “Our performances at the Mahaiwe have become one of the most anticipated events of our year.” Same here.
The Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA, July 24, 25, 26

doug elkins choreography, etc. at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
Choreographer Doug Elkins has a knack for wrapping his conceptual works in a crowd-pleasing package. Dance fans already familiar with his Fräulein Maria, a re-imagining of The Sound of Music, will want to see the two newer works he’s bringing to Jacob’s Pillow this summer, including Mo(or)town/Redux, an exploration of Shakespeare’s Othello to the beat of a Motown soundtrack.
Dorris Duke Theatre, Becket, MA, August 13 — 17

TAKE Dance Company at PS21
We love when art is situated with setting; more so when it’s particularly evocative of the imaginations of the community. For this special program, TAKE’s founding artistic director Takehiro Ueyama will dance a memory piece of his own composition, matched with the premiere of a new piece he’ll choreograph with co-director Jill Echo based on memories and impressions of Chatham submitted in advance. Now that’s some good crowdsourcing. 
PS21, Chatham, NY, August 27 & 28



The Autumn Defense at Helsinki Hudson
This is an off year for Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, but we still have a chance to exercise something that’s been underlined each year: a healthy appreciation for its members’ other projects. Autumn Defense, helmed by bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, is a particular favorite.
Club Helsinki, Hudson, NY, June 5 at 8 p.m.

Emerson String Quartet at Music Mountain
Approaching its 40th year, Emerson String Quartet is long established as a leading heavyweight in the chamber music world. Yet there’s particular interest in seeing them these days, to hear the inflections of new(ish) cello ace Paul Watkins. Though the Emerson makes regular visits to Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, there’s the special chance to see the group this summer at the even cozier environs of Music Mountain. The group is the highlight of the opening gala of Music Mountains’ 85th season.
Music Mountain, Falls Village, CT, June 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Roger McGuinn at Infinity Hall
The former Byrds frontman is on something of a never-ending tour in which he splits the difference between work and retirement, driving around the country in an RV sightseeing with his wife Camilla and keeping a steady schedule of shows besides. They’re a bit of an old-fashioned sort; the couple doesn’t fly, and when they visit Europe they get there by ocean liner. McGuinn’s mixture of adapted folk tunes, ‘60s and ‘70s chestnuts, and more recent material is similarly vintage.
Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT, June 14 at 8 p.m.

Beck at Mass MoCA
Beck is the cut-and-mix auteur of dance-friendly Millennial irony, but he complements his neon-bright sound with the occasional understated masterpiece. It’s on the heels of the laid-back Morning Phase, a sort of sequel to much-adored 2002 effort Sea Change, that Beck visits North Adams for the most-anticipated pop concert of the season.
Joe’s Field, North Adams, MA, June 24 at 8:30 p.m.

James Taylor at Tanglewood
James Taylor’s summer visit to Tanglewood seemed like it had been on the calendar as firmly as Independence Day itself, before JT took last summer off from the road to work on a new album. Since his whole shtick is pretty familiar at this point, the X factor becomes the prospect of special guests. Will he cause another ruckus like the one he caused by calling in Taylor Swift in 2012? These shows are long since sold out, so if you don’t have tickets yet it’s time to start calling your friends and offering to take care of their picnics in exchange for tag-along privileges.
Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA, July 3 & 4

Vice Squad at Aston Magna Festival
The conceptual, curatorial programming of the Aston Magna Festival always provides rich food for thought. The early-music pros get a little risqué (such as it is) here, with works by J.S. Bach and others that celebrate some of our favorite bad habits.
Olin Hall at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, July 11 at 8 p.m.
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA, July 12 at 8 p.m.

Andris Nelsons at Tanglewood
Last year we looked forward to Andris Nelsons’ first concerts at Tanglewood following his announcement as music director designate of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but a last-minute injury sidelined him on the Continent. So it’s with full pomp and circumstance that he leads multiple programs this month, including an all-Dvořák performance (highlighting guest violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter) on July 11 and a gala performance the next night.
Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA, July 11 & 12

Bang on a Can Marathon with Glenn Kotche and Steve Reich at Mass MoCA
You can almost feel your mind opening and your tastes broadening when you pop in on one of the daily gallery performances during the summer residency of new-music tastemakers Bang on a Can at Mass MoCA. But the headlining concerts are no slouch either, as the Bang on a Can All-Stars and various friends assemble for hours of innovative music-making in the Hunter Center. This year, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche joins the fun for the always-fascinating Bang on a Can Marathon, also featuring an appearance by legendary composer (and avid baseball cap wearer) Steve Reich.
Hunter Center, North Adams, MA, August 2 at 4 p.m.

Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos at Tanglewood
Long established as summer traditions, the visits of part-time Berkshire neighbor Yo-Yo Ma to Tanglewood remain hot tickets, be it as featured soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (as he will be on August 10) or in a small-group configuration over at Ozawa. This intimate performance will feature each of its all-star members, through the works of Brahms — the Violin Sonata No. 1, the Cello Sonata No. 2, and a convergence of the three talents for the closing Piano Trio No. 1. This promises to be a highlight of Ozawa’s 20th anniversary season, and a sublime kickoff to one of those weekends at Tanglewood that remind us about what’s so special around here.
Seiji Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA, August 7 at 8 p.m.

The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
The bookers at the Mahaiwe have shown a sharp eye for jazz-fueled collaborations that could sail under the radar, but provide a big bounty for fans who are in the know. Last year’s Chris Thile/Brad Mehldau duo was a highlight of the whole year; this summer the theater has netted boundary-breaking jazz trio The Bad Plus, performing with guest saxophonist Joshua Redman, one of the leading horn men of his generation. Someday you’ll be telling people you were there — the only issue is whether you’ll be telling the truth.
The Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA, August 8 at 8 p.m.

Oz with Orchestra at Tanglewood
With its members dressed in open-necked black shirts, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performance of the score from West Side Story (along with a viewing of the film) was one of the most fun nights of the Tanglewood season last year. Looks like the beginning of a tradition, though the crew will be organized under the banner of the Boston Pops this year for a look at (and a listen to) The Wizard of Oz. The yellow brick road leads to Lenox, it seems.
Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA, August 22 at 8:30 p.m.

Roomful of Teeth at MASS MoCA
Fresh from its Grammy win in February (and member Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer Prize in Music last year!), the innovative vocal group founded by Bradley Wells, the choral director at Williams College (among many other activities), presents a program of music by Sam Amidon. Don’t know him? He’s the quirky electro-folkie who was last seen in these parts playing a violin underneath Xu Bing’s Phoenix sculpture at last year’s Solid Sound Festival.
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, August 29 at 8 p.m.

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Posted by Jeremy D. Goodwin on 04/15/14 at 04:12 PM • Permalink

Folk Legend Peggy Seeger: Ballad Of The Righteous Woman

By Robert Burke Warren

When folk legend Peggy Seeger graces Hevreh of Southern Berkshire in Great Barrington on Tuesday, March 18, she’ll be playing and singing as she’s done for more than 60 years, but she’ll also be on a mission to restore dignity to female characters in song. Seeger is billing this appearance as an interactive musical lecture entitled “A Feminist View of the Image of Women in Anglo-American Traditional Songs.” Before each number, she’ll offer critical insight into women’s roles in old folk songs, and she’ll compare these songs to contemporary pieces in which women are portrayed with more empathy, hope and depth.

Seeger, the daughter of Ruth Crawford Seeger and half sister to the recently departed Pete, is a folk singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and activist who has made 23 solo recordings and participated in more than 100 others. Her career spans more than six decades of performing, travel and songwriting. Her appearance next week is a special event to benefit the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and WBCR-LP (Berkshire Community Radio).

From her home in Oxford, England, Seeger tells Rural Intelligence how her husband, playwright-actor-songwriter-activist Ewan MacColl (he wrote “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for her) sparked her feminism. “It was 1969,” she says, “and Ewan had written the script for a stage show, and he said, ‘Peggy, write a song about women.’ And this rather complicated song, ‘Gonna Be An Engineer,’ just popped out of my head. I never wanted to be an engineer, but it sang well. The song took off and became a feminist anthem. I didn’t know anything about feminism, but I suddenly found myself at these feminist do’s, and when I finished they said, ‘Sing something else,’ and I didn’t have anything except bland songs in which women were unclaimed property, or being sent away because they nagged their husbands, or they were complaining single mothers with babies in their arms.”

Ewan and Peggy, 1977

Seeger realized many of the timeless tunes she knew portrayed women as a disempowered gender. In the following decades, as she and MacColl raised a family in England, the couple concentrated on using music to affect social change, with Seeger’s focus falling ever more on women’s issues. “I started to catalog songs,” she says. “I built up categories, and I still sing them, but I always say something before: these are historical pieces, with women singing about their position in society.”

At the Hevreh, armed with a variety of instruments — banjo, guitar, concertina — Seeger will perform age-old songs in which women are chattel and/or victims of male sexual desire; she’ll offer mother-in-law-as-laughingstock songs, and “fallen woman” ballads in which women who try to escape their condition suffer. To offset the narrow perspective of the public domain material, Seeger says, “I’ll play tunes featuring all kinds of subjects that these folk songs do not cover at all. There’s ‘A Stitch In Time,’ by Mike Waterson, about a battered wife who sews her husband into a bed and batters him. And in one of my own songs, a woman goes off and becomes a sailor, and the ship captain falls in love with her and they live happily ever after.”

Seeger has high hopes for the lecture. “I want people to look at the role of women in all the songs we listen to,” she says. “The language that we use when we refer to sex. Women are often portrayed as objects, clotheshorses, as a gender that things happen to rather than one that makes things happen.”

While Seeger’s engagement is woman-centered, she emphasizes her desire for a desegregated audience. “The lecture is for men and women,” she says. “We don’t thank men for coming, it’s their job to come. Men are in this bind as well as women.”

Peggy Seeger
A Feminist View of the Image of Women in Anglo-American Traditional Songs
Tuesday, March 18, 4 p.m.
Hevreh of Southern Berkshire
270 State Road, Great Barrington, MA
$10.00; $5.00 for students


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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/10/14 at 10:56 AM • Permalink